Criticising Malaysia’s handling of migrants: Rayhan placed on 14-day remand
Bangladeshi youth Rayhan Kabir was placed on a 14-day remand today, a day after the Malaysian Immigration Department arrested him, saying he would be deported to Bangladesh and blacklisted for criticising Putrajaya's handling of migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said Rayhan was remanded for 14 days to assist in the investigation, starting today, reported Malaysian news portal Tekdeeps.com.
"We will ensure the investigation is done as best as possible and then take appropriate action," the minister said at a press conference after officiating the Joint Council of the Malaysian Volunteer Department (RELA), according to the report.
Earlier today, two lawyers were appointed for Rayhan Kabir, after the agency confirmed in a brief statement that the Bangladeshi was arrested by its intelligence unit Friday afternoon in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, following a two-week manhunt.
"This Bangladeshi national will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever," said its director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud, reports Malay Mail.
Meanwhile, Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna (Chambers of Sumitha) and Selvaraja Chinniah (Messrs CR Selva) have been appointed lawyers for Md Rayhan Kabir.
"Pdrm [Royal Malaysian Police] and immigration have been informed [of lawyers' appointment] via email today. In our letter we have sought a date to meet our client. We will be at Bukit Aman [police headquarter] on Monday, 27 July 2020, at 2pm, to meet our client," Sumitha told The Daily Star.
"Sunday is a holiday. So, on Monday when we will meet Rayhan, we can know what charges are brought against Rayhan and then see how we proceed," she said.
Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, which has not made any statement since the manhunt by Malaysian police began more than two weeks back, today said it was waiting for a letter from Malaysian authorities before it acts.
The high commission will take steps regarding the arrest of Rayhan Kabir once the mission receives official letter over the incident from the Malaysian government, said Bangladesh mission's Labour Counsellor Zahirul Islam.
"We are dealing with the issue," Zahirul said and added: "Steps will be taken as per letter issued through the diplomatic channel."
Rayhan (25), who went to Malaysia in 2014 and had been working after completing his bachelor's, was the target of Malaysia's manhunt after his criticism against Putrajaya's detention of undocumented migrant workers in an Al Jazeera documentary titled "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown" was aired on July 3.
In the 26-minute video produced by Al Jazeera's 101 East team, he accused the authorities of racism against undocumented migrants, claiming that being an illegal immigrant in Malaysia is not a crime.
The documentary said the undocumented migrants were at risk during the coronavirus pandemic when more than 2,000 migrant workers were arrested during raids in areas of Kuala Lumpur that were placed under tight virus lockdowns.
After the broadcast of the documentary, Malaysian immigration issued a public announcement with Rayhan's photo and address asking people to help arrest him. He also faced barrage of hate speech on social media. Rayhan had to hide himself in fear of arrest and rights violation.
Meanwhile, police also called a number of Bangladeshis suspecting their links to Raynan in a situation where they were terrified, some Bangladeshis told this newspaper. His work permit was also revoked.
"I did not lie. I have only talked about discrimination against the migrants. I have not committed a crime. I want the dignity of migrants and my country ensured. I believe all migrants and Bangladesh will stand with me," Rayhan had told The Daily Star in a WhatsApp message shortly before his arrest on Friday.
AL JAZEERA 'DISTURBED' OVER RAYHAN'S ARREST
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera today said in a tweet post that it "finds it disturbing" that Rayhan has been arrested "for choosing to speak up about some of the experiences of the voiceless and the vulnerable".
"Rayhan Kabir, who featured in Al Jazeera's 101 East programme 'Locked Up in Malysia's Lockdown', was subjected to abusive online harassment, hate speech and became target of a manhunt. Authorities say he will be expelled from Malaysia," the news agency said in the tweet.
Al Jazeera finds it disturbing that Bangladeshi migrant worker Mohammad Rayhan Kabir has been arrested for choosing to speak up about some of the experiences of the voiceless and the vulnerable. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/bYXNCk4fwG
— Al Jazeera PR (@AlJazeera) July 25, 2020
"Al Jazeera reaffirms its support to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right- without fear of being criminalised," it added.
RIGHTS ACTIVISTS DEMAND RAYHAN'S RELEASE
Expressing deep concern over the arrest of Rayhan Kabir, twenty-one civil society organisations including Brac, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Ain O Salish Kendra in a joint statement demanded immediate release and protection of Rayhan Kabir in Malaysia.
"We demand his immediate release and protection," read the joint statement, adding that Rayhan Kabir did not commit any crime.
"The evidence shown in the documentary on Malaysia's crackdown on immigrants is reprehensible and deeply troubling. There have been similar allegations in the past against Malaysian law enforcement agencies," it said.
They requested the Bangladesh high commission in Malaysia, foreign and expatriates' welfare ministry and concerned international organisations to take necessary action to protect Rayhan's rights.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera Media Network has strongly rejected allegations made by Malaysian authorities over the documentary. Malaysian officials and national television criticised the report, claiming it was inaccurate, misleading and unfair.
Malaysian police announced an investigation of Al Jazeera staff over potential sedition, defamation and violation of the country's Communications and Multimedia Act.
In a statement, Al Jazeera said it stands by "the professionalism, quality and impartiality of its journalism", and warned of "serious concerns about developments that have occurred in Malaysia since the broadcast of the documentary".