Civil society organisations of Bangladesh have expressed their deep concerns over the Malaysian government's harassment of journalists and migrant workers following the broadcast of an investigative documentary.
The documentary – which shed light on the mistreatment of migrant workers in Malaysia – was published by the international media outlet Al Jazeera on July 3.
A joint statement, issued on Saturday by 21 organisations working on migration and development, read, "Summoning the journalists and the reported manhunt for the Bangladeshi migrant worker interviewed by Al Jazeera for the documentary, is a blatant attempt to muzzle the freedom of press and 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," it continued.
The investigative documentary titled "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown" was broadcasted as part of Al Jazeera's "101 East" documentary strand.
It shows that the Malaysian government is discriminating against migrants during the epidemic through the Movement Control Order (MCO). 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. The Malaysian government should investigate these incidents," read the statement.
It further stated, "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 the Malaysian police."
The Immigration Department of Malaysia has issued a search warrant for the young Bangladeshi migrant Raihan Kabir, 25 who was interviewed in the documentary.
The local administration has issued a summon to seek his personal information and issued a notice in the newspaper which is a matter of deep concern.
The statement read, "We want to make it clear that giving an interview to the media is not a crime, and Raihan Kabir did not commit any crime. He is staying there legally, although the Malaysian authority has launched a manhunt as if he is a big criminal."
"We have learned that several Bangladeshis are also being harassed during this unethical manhunt. We are concerned about the safety of this young Bangladeshi migrant," it continued.
It added, "In this regard, we request the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment and the Bangladesh High Commission of Malaysia to take appropriate measures to protect the rights and dignity of expatriates including the security of Raihan Kabir and other Bangladeshi migrants."
The joint statement was made by: the 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, and several other organisations.