Bangladeshi Rayhan Kabir didn’t say anything in breach of Malaysian laws
02:07 PM, July 27, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:27 PM, July 27, 2020

Lawyers for Rayhan Kabir say they haven’t seen him since arrest

Lawyers for Md Rayhan Kabir, the Bangladeshi who criticised Malaysia's treatment of migrants in an Al Jazeera documentary, say they have yet to meet their client since he was arrested, according to Malaysia's The Star.

"I was informed that my request has to go through the (Immigration Department) heads first before permission is given (to see him). An email was sent to Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud on Sunday (July 26)," said lawyer Selvaraja Chinniah.

"We have a responsibility to his parents to inform them of their son's condition," said Selvaraja outside the Immigration Department headquarters in Putrajaya on Monday (July 27).

Selvaraja, together with fellow lawyer Sumita Shaanthinni Kishna, exited the building around 2:40pm after spending about an hour inside.

They were engaged by Md Rayhan's parents to act as his lawyers.

Selvaraja added that the department assured him that they would respond to his request "as soon as possible".

Rayhan was arrested by a team of immigration officers from the Putrajaya office around 5:45pm in Setapak on Friday (July 24).

They had earlier sought the help of the public to track down Rayhan, reports The Star.

Rayhan is alleged to have made "false claims" about Malaysia's treatment of undocumented migrants in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic when he was interviewed in the Al Jazeera documentary.

Police have also started investigating the international television channel over the production.

'RAYHAN DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY IN BREACH OF MALAYSIAN LAWS'

Expressing grave concern over the arrest of Bangladeshi national Md Rayhan Kabir by the Immigration Department, a Malaysian rights group -- Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) -- has said the authorities must stop their unlawful harassment against him, reports UNB.

Such drastic measures by the authorities is unwarranted as they have thus far failed to explain what offence Rayhan has committed, said a statement issued by the rights body signed by Zaid Malek, coordinator of the LFL.

Clearly, the action by the authorities is a form of retaliation over the allegations of discrimination made by Rayhan in the Al Jazeera documentary, the statement said according to UNB.

"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 (Malaysia's) laws," said the statement.

Rayhan was only venting his frustrations and concerns regarding the crackdown by the authorities on the migrant community during the Movement Control Order. Similar complaints have been made by local activists and NGOs. There is no justifiable reason why the authorities must resort to such punitive measures against Rayhan for his statements, it further added.

"We reiterate that the revocation of Rayhan's permit is in breach of section 9 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 and his deportation for being undocumented thus cannot stand."

"The persecution of Rayhan sends a chilling message to migrants to not speak out or report abuse by the authorities, lest they suffer the same fate. We must not allow the authorities to act in flagrant disregard of the law. We urgently call on the government and the authorities to halt all actions against Rayhan," the statement by LFL read.

In the Al Jazeera documentary, Rayhan specifically spoke on the experiences of his friend and fellow Bangladeshi who was undocumented. He himself possessed a valid work permit, till it was revoked following the airing of the documentary. 

Soon after his arrest, the Director General of Immigration, Khairul Dzaimee Daud, stated that Rayhan will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever.

Bangladeshi authorities have thus far remained silent over the issue, and as yet there is no word on whether consular access will be sought for him by the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

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