Myanmar’s immigration department said on June 17 that it would accept returning Myanmar nationals—even those who do not hold a valid passport—if they were able to prove their citizenship at the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
However Ko Wai Aung Thein, a returned migrant, claims that Malaysian police are intercepting Myanmar people on the way to the embassy, and detaining those without passports.
Naypyitaw’s repatriation offer and half-price flights follow a spate of violent attacks against Myanmar nationals in Kuala Lumpur that have left three dead and many more injured.
While the reason for the attacks is not formally known, it is thought that it has to do with the religious violence in Myanmar. Information released on the dead suggests they were Buddhists.
Aung Thein returned to Myanmar on June 22 after he and five colleagues working at the same factory were attacked in their sleep by a masked group, leaving him with knife wounds and a broken leg.
“There are many people left hiding because the danger of an attack could be anywhere,” he said from a bed in Victoria Hospital in Yangon.
Thet Naing Oo, the deputy director of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, told Mizzima that Myanmar citizens should alert the embassy in Malaysia if they believe there is significant fear they will be apprehended en route. Though he said he believes there is no reason for concern, claiming that the issue has already been discussed with Malaysian authorities.
“The Embassy will work together with the Malaysian Government to settle this issue,” he said. “The Embassy is taking care of it.”
According to Ko Wai Aung Thein, around 700 Myanmar citizens have gone to the embassy in KL to apply for the Certificate of Identity that can be used in lieu of a passport.
A list from the Immigration Department at Yangon International Airport showed that almost 3,400 Myanmar people returned from Malaysia in the first 15 days following May 29 when the violence began.
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