KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has called for authorities to halt all actions against Bangladeshi national Md Rayhan Kabir, claiming the foreigner had done nothing wrong to warrant such drastic measures taken against him.
Its coordinator Zaid Malek said that LFL, having scrutinised the contents of the controversial Al-Jazeera documentary in which Rayhan was featured in, found that his statements contained nothing ‘remotely in breach of the country’s laws’.
“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,” Zaid wrote.
The group condemned his arrest and impending deportation by the Immigration Department, saying such drastic measures were uncalled for considering how the authorities have yet to fully explain what offence the Bangladeshi national is guilty of.
LFL then claimed the revocation of Rayhan’s permit by the Immigration Department was done illegally, and was in breach of Section 9(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63.
Section 9(1)(c) of the Act relates to the powers of the Immigration Department’s Director General to prohibit entry, or cancel a pass or permit of a person if he is satisfied that the permit holder’s presence or entry into Malaysia would be prejudicial to public order, public security, public health, or morality in the country.
“Clearly, the action by the authorities is a form of retaliation over the allegations of discrimination made by Rayhan in the Al Jazeera documentary,” Zaid wrote.
LFL said that Rayhan was merely making his frustrations known about the crackdowns by authorities against the migrant community during the movement control order, complaints the group said were similar to what has been aired by local activists and non-governmental organisations.
This follows the arrest of Rayhan in Setapak last Friday, following a two-week manhunt for the Bangladeshi national, after his seemingly controversial comments in the documentary Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown which was aired on YouTube on July 3 by the Doha-based agency.
On Saturday the Immigration Department, in confirming his capture, said Rayhan would be deported and permanently barred from re-entering Malaysia.
Rayhan had been the target of a government manhunt after his criticisms against Putrajaya’s detention of undocumented migrant workers in the 25-minute-and-50-second video produced by Al Jazeera’s 101 East team.
He had in the production accused the authorities of racism against undocumented migrants, claiming that being an undocumented migrant in Malaysia is not a crime.
This led to the Home Ministry revoking Rayhan’s work permit in the country, while many Malaysians took to social media to express their anger against Rayhan.
At the same time, Bukit Aman also called in the 101 East news crew for questioning after both the police and the Attorney General’s Chambers were said to have found seditious elements in the documentary.