Twenty-one civil society organisations working on migration and development today expressed deep concern over the Malaysian government's "harassment of journalists and migrant workers".
The harassment began following the broadcast of an investigative documentary by Al Jazeera about the mistreatment of migrant workers in Malaysia, the organisations said in a joint statement.
They said summoning journalists and the reported manhunt for a Bangladeshi migrant worker interviewed by Al Jazeera for the documentary "is a blatant attempt to muzzle the freedom of press and [is also] human rights abuse" by the Malaysian authorities.
"We call on the Malaysian government not to harass the journalists and expatriates, and instead investigate and take action against those who have been treating the migrants unjustly," read the statement.
The CSOs also urged the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia, the ministries of foreign affairs, the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment, along with international organisations in Dhaka, to take necessary action in this regard.
The investigative documentary titled "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown" was broadcast on July 3 as part of Al Jazeera's "101 East" documentary series.
It shows that the Malaysian government is discriminating against migrants during the Movement Control Order enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic, read the statement.
"We note with deep concern that six media workers of Al Jazeera were called to Malaysia Central Police Headquarters on July 10 for questioning. They are also being investigated for alleged defamation and sedition by Malaysian police. We stand by various international journalists' organisations who have also condemned this incident," the CSOs said.
Besides, Malaysian Immigration Department has issued a search warrant for young Bangladeshi migrant Raihan Kabir (25) who was interviewed in the documentary, they added.
The CSOs are -- Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, WARBE Development Foundation, Brac, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendro, IID Migration Policy Unit, Human Rights Support Society, Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association, BASUG, INAFI Bangladesh, Karmojibi Nari, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha, Devcom, IMA, Awaj Foundation, Rights Jashore, BILS, Bastob, Film for Peace Foundation, and Migration News.