A day after arresting a 25-year-old Bangladeshi, Malaysian authorities have decided to deport him for criticising on television the country's treatment of undocumented migrants during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a documentary on Al Jazeera, the youth, named Rayhan Kabir, said Malaysian government discriminated against irregular foreign workers by arresting and jailing them.
Quoting Malaysia's Immigration Director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud, The Star Online reported that Rayhan will also be blacklisted so that he can never enter Malaysia again.
Al Jazeera aired the 25.50-minute-long documentary titled "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown" on July 3.
However, prior to the arrest of Rayhan, a video message was released, where he had urged the Bangladesh government to take initiative to bring him back.
Rayhan said in the video message, "Today is July 9 and I am making this video. When you will see the video, I will be arrested by then. It is a matter of great regret that I do not know in which law I will be arrested; why I will be arrested.
"I was not involved in any misdeed. Telling the truth is my crime. If I face any injustice, Bangladesh will be defeated. I seek the help of Bangladesh High Commission here for returning to my family."
"I said in the interview what I saw. The Malaysian government confirmed that any undocumented workers would not be arrested during the lockdown period. But I was saddened to see them handcuffed.
"Is it not an inhuman task to handcuff and arrest workers during the lockdown period? The united nation said that the world is a global village. There is no border of humanity. I didnot underestimate any nation. Malaysians thought that I had humiliated them. Not that, I just talked about the arrest," Rayhan explained his stance in the message.
He further said, "I do not know what will be my fate after my arrest. If I lose my life, that will be a sacrifice for one crore of Bangladeshi migrant workers. I expressed your distresseshere; I talked in your voice. If I face injustice, Bangladesh will be defeated."
Rayhan Kabir is from Narayanganj. His father Shah Alam works in a garment factory. He recently talked to Brac Migration Programme.
"I got the news at night. Someone sent me a picture of his arrest. My son used to protest against injustice. But he has never done any wrong. After graduating from Tolaram College in 2014, he left for Malaysia," Alam said.
He added in a choked voice, "My wife has fallen sick. I have heard through various sources that my son has been arrested for protesting against injustice. I believe my son has told the truth. I want the whole country stand beside him."
On July 7, the Immigration Department of Malaysia circulated a notice seeking public's help to detain Rayhan.
In the notice, the immigration department provided the name of Rayhan, his passport number and his last known address in Kuala Lumpur, urging the public to contact the department with any information they could provide to assist in the investigation.
Rights bodies demand immediate release
Some 21 Bangladeshi civil society organisations working on migration and development expressed deep concern over the arrest of Rayhan Kabir, read a joint statement on Saturday.
"We demand his immediate release and protection. We also request the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) in Dhaka and concerned international organizations to take necessary action in this regard," read the statement.
The statement pointed out that an interview with the media is not a crime.
"We call upon the Malaysian government and law enforcement agencies not to harass him," it added.
Among the civil society organistaions that have made the joint statement are Brac, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendro, IID Migration Policy Unit, WARBE Development Foundation, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme, Ain o Shalish Kendra, Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association and others.