Bangladesh CSOs Demand Release of Rayhan Kabir in Malaysia

Bangladeshi civil society organizations working on migration and development on Saturday demanded immediate release of a young migrant worker Rayhan Kabir who was arrested in Malaysia.

The leading 21 CSOs also expressed deep concern over the arrest of Rayhan Kabir as he was arrested on Friday for speaking in a documentary broadcasted by Al Jazeera, an international media outlet, about the discriminatory treatment of migrant workers in Malaysia.

Demanding his immediate release and protection in a joint statement issued on Saturday, the CSOs urged 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.

The investigative documentary titled ‘Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ was broadcasted on July 3 2020 as part of Al Jazeera’s “101 East” documentary series. It showed that the Malaysian government discriminated against migrants during the epidemic through the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“The evidences 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 agencies,” the statement said.

On July 11, the CSOs also issued a statement and called on the Malaysian law enforcement authorities to investigate such allegations and expressed concerns when the journalists of Al Jazeera were called to Malaysia Central Police Headquarter for questioning.

The Immigration Department of Malaysia also issued a search warrant for Rayhan Kabir (25) who was interviewed in the documentary. The local administration had issued a summon to seek his personal information and issued a notice in the newspapers. He was subsequently arrested on Friday. His handcuffed photos were shared in the media and Malaysian authority announced that Rayhan would be deported and banned from entering into Malaysia forever.

Rayhan has been staying in Malaysia legally before Malaysian authorities abruptly rejected his work permit for giving the interview. The statement pointed out that an interview to the media was not a crime and Rayhan Kabir did not commit any crime.

“We call upon Malaysian government and law enforcement agencies not to harass him.”

In this regard, the CSOs requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment and the Bangladesh High Commission of Malaysia to take appropriate measures to protect Rayhan and respect the rights and dignity of all migrants.

This joint statement was endorsed by BRAC, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendro (BNSK), IID Migration Policy Unit, WARBE Development Foundation, , Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK), Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (BOMSA), BASUG, INAFI Bangladesh, Karmojibi Nari, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS), Devcom, Human Rights Support Society (HRSS), Awaj Foundation, Rights Jessore, BILS, Bastob, Film for Peace Foundation, and Migration News.

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