Expressing grave concern over the arrest of Bangladeshi national Md Rayhan Kabir by the Immigration Department, Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said the authorities must stop unlawfully harassing him.
Such drastic measures by the authorities are unwarranted as they have thus far failed to explain what offence Rayhan has committed, said a statement issued by LFL signed by Zaid Malek, coordinator of the LFL, reports UNB.
Meanwhile, Rayhans' lawyers failed to meet him on Monday as the authorities did not allow them to do so.
Clearly, the action by the authorities is a form of retaliation over the allegations of discrimination made by Rayhan in the Al Jazeera documentary.
"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," said the statement.
Rayhan was only venting his frustrations and concerns regarding the crackdown by the authorities on the migrant community during the Movement Control Order.
Similar complaints have been made by local activists and NGOs. There is no justifiable reason why the authorities must resort to such punitive measures against Rayhan for his statements, it further added.
"We reiterate that the revocation of Rayhan's permit is in breach of section 9(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 and his deportation for being undocumented thus cannot stand," the statement continued.
"The persecution of Rayhan sends a chilling message to migrants to not speak out or report abuse by the authorities, lest they suffer the same fate. We must not allow the authorities to act in flagrant disregard of the law. We urgently call on the government and the authorities to halt all actions against Rayhan," the statement elaborated.
Mohammad Rayhan Kabir was arrested in Malaysia for speaking out on discrimination faced by undocumented migrant workers at the hands of the authorities during the Covid-19 lockdown, in a documentary broadcast by Qatar-based Al Jazeera.
Rayhan specifically spoke about the experiences of his friends and a fellow Bangladeshi who was undocumented. Rayhan possessed a valid work permit – till it was revoked following the airing of the documentary.
Soon after his arrest, Director General of Immigration Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud stated that Rayhan will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever.
Rayhans' lawyers 'weren't allowed' to meet him
Two lawyers, Sumita Shaanthinni Kishna and Selvaraja Chinniah were at the immigration department in Putrajaya to meet Rayhan at 2pm on Monday.
They informed the Brac Migration Programme that they failed to meet Rayhan as authorities did not allow them to do so.
"However, the head of immigration was at the parliament and was not able to give the necessary permission to meet our client," said Sumita.
"We had sent them emails on July 25 and 26 seeking a visit to meet Rayhan. Immigration stated that they were only able to retrieve our emails today as they had had several hundred emails to go through," she continued.
"We have requested the immigration department expedite a response to our emails to enable us to meet our client as soon as possible," she said.
"We were also informed that Bangladesh embassy officials will meet Rayhan on Monday," she added.