A Malaysian court has granted a 13-day remand for Rayhan Kabir, the Bangladeshi youth arrested for talking to the media about the Malaysian government's treatment of migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic, after he was brought to a court yesterday morning.
Rayhan's lawyer Sumita Santini Kisna told The Daily Star that on Wednesday night they received information that Rayhan would be produced in court on Thursday.
Both of Rayhan's lawyers were present in court. But they did not see any representative from the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia.
Sumita said that police sought a remand of 14 days and opposed the court order of a 13-day remand -- till August 19 from today. Till now, no charges have been filed against Rayhan. Rayhan remains firm on his position that what he said was his personal view and his reaction to what he saw of persons being arrested during the pandemic, but he had no intention of hurting the feelings of Malaysians and the Malaysian authorities.
On Wednesday, Immigration Director-General Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said Rayhan Kabir will be deported once the Attorney General's Chambers has completed looking into the investigation papers of the case. He said the department was made to understand that the investigation papers regarding Rayhan's case had been handed to the AGC.
"Once the AGC is done, we will deport him back to Bangladesh. And he will never step foot in Malaysia again as he will be blacklisted," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Asked how long it would take to send Rayhan back to Bangladesh, Khairul said the immigration department was informed that the earliest flight available from Kuala Lumpur to Dhaka was at the end of August.
However, several Bangladeshis in Malaysia have informed this writer that there are multiple flights from Dhaka to Kuala Lumpur before August 31. Even so, he is being sent late. Lawyers have raised the issue in court.
On July 3, Al Jazeera published an investigative documentary titled "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown". The report raised the issue of the government's repressive treatment of migrant workers in Malaysia during the lockdown. In that report, along with the citizens of many other countries, Rayhan Kabir also gave an interview, which angered the Malaysian authorities.
An arrest warrant was issued against Rayhan Kabir and he was arrested by Malaysian police on the evening of July 24.
Before the arrest, Rayhan Kabir sent a WhatsApp message, in which he said, "I did not commit any crime. I did not lie. I have only talked about discrimination against the migrants. I want the dignity of migrants and my country ensured. I believe all migrants and Bangladesh will stand with me."
Different international and Bangladeshi organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned the arrest and demanded Rayhan's immediate release.
Expressing grave concern over the arrest of the Bangladeshi national by the immigration department, Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty said that the authorities must stop their unlawful harassment of him.
A statement issued by LFL, signed by Zaid Malek, its coordinator, said, "We have scrutinised the statement made by Rayhan in the documentary and firmly restate that he has not said anything even remotely in breach of the country's laws."
[The writer is a freelance journalist]