Locked up in KL: Rayhan said nothing that breaks law

Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia said it would do everything necessary for Rayhan Kabir, who was arrested by Malaysian immigration on Friday for speaking on mistreatment of migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.

Bangladesh High Commissioner Shahidul Islam said Rayhan had consular access yesterday at the immigration’s deportation centre when two Bangladeshi officials listened to what happened to him since the beginning and what he needs.

“We will do all that’s necessary for Rayhan, maintaining diplomatic norms,” he told The Daily Star by phone yesterday.

“We have very good relations with Malaysia. I had talks to the Malaysian authorities and will do what is the best,” the envoy said.

Asked if the high commission would provide legal assistance to Rayhan, whose work permit has been revoked by the Malaysian authorities, Shahidul said, “The question of legal assistance comes only when the case goes to the court. We are trying to address the issue diplomatically. There is nothing to be concerned.”

Meanwhile, lawyers for Rayhan yesterday failed to meet him.

The lawyers — Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna (Chambers of Sumitha) and Selvaraja Chinniah (Messrs CR Selva) — went to the Malaysia’s Department of Immigration at Putrajaya to meet Rayhan.

“But the head of immigration was at the parliament and was not able to give the necessary permission to meet our client,” Kishna told this newspaper.

She said they had emailed the immigration department on 25 and 26 July, seeking permission to visit Rayhan.

“The immigration stated that they were only able to retrieve our emails today [yesterday] as they had some 100 emails to go through,” Kishna said.

“We have requested that the immigration expedite their responses to our emails to enable us to meet our client as soon as possible,” she said.

Rayhan, 25, who went to Malaysia in 2014 and had been working after completing his bachelor’s degree, 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 irregular immigrant in Malaysia is not a crime.

The documentary said the undocumented migrants were at risk during the pandemic when over 2,000 migrant workers were arrested during raids in areas of Kuala Lumpur that were placed under tight virus lockdowns.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, Malaysia enforced movement control order to curb the virus infections.

Meanwhile, a Malaysia-based rights group yesterday criticised the arrest of Rayhan as well as plans to deport him and blacklist him from re-entering the country, calling these “drastic measures”.

In a statement, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said the actions against Rayhan were unwarranted as the immigration department had yet to explain his offence, reports Free Malaysia Today.

It also accused the authorities of retaliating against Rayhan’s allegations of discrimination.

“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,” it said, adding that Rayhan was only venting his frustrations and concerns over the crackdown on migrants.

The LFL said this was against section 9(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63, which meant that his deportation on grounds of being undocumented could not stand.

It also urged the authorities to stop all actions against Rayhan. 


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