India's Supreme Court has ordered the deportation of seven Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar.
The seven men, who have been detained since 2012 for illegally entering India, were scheduled to be deported on Thursday.
Prashan Bhushan, a lawyer for the seven men, filed a last-minute appeal with the court to halt their deportation, saying they would be subjected to persecution upon their return.
Amnesty International criticized the court decision, calling it a "dark day for human rights India."
"This decision negates India’s proud tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing serious human rights violations. It endangers the most persecuted population in the world and is bereft of any empathy,” Amnesty India's Aakar Patel said in a statement. "The Narendra Modi government must work with the UNHCR so as not to renege on basic human rights commitments.”
About 40,000 Rohingya have settled in India to escape persecution and violence in Myanmar, where they are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and are denied basic rights. India's Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge to a government order issued last year to return all Rohingya to Myanmar, citing national security concerns.
More than 700,000 members of the mostly Muslim Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh from Rakhine State since the largely Buddhist government of Myanmar began a widespread crackdown across the region in August 2017 in response to of series of attacks committed by Rohingya militants.
International observers have accused the Myanmar military of burning villages and committing mass rape, torture and murder. The U.N. has referred to the situation as a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.” A special U.N. fact-finding mission called for General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's army, and five other generals, to be tried for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.