21 NGOs demand release of Rayhan Kabir in Malaysia

Twenty-one NGOs working on migration and development have demanded release and protection of a young Bangladeshi Rayhan Kabir (25) in Malaysia arrested for speaking to Al Jazeera in a documentary.

In a joint statement, they also expressed “deep concern” over the arrest.

Rayhan Kabir spoke about the “discriminatory treatment” of migrant workers in Malaysia. He was arrested on Friday.

“We demand his immediate release and protection,” said the statement.

They also requested the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment in Dhaka and concerned international organisations to take necessary action in this regard.

The investigative documentary titled ‘Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ was broadcasted on July 3 as part of Al Jazeera’s “101 East” documentary series.

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 agencies.

His handcuffed photos were shared in the media and Malaysian authorities announced that Rayhan will 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 is not a crime and Rayhan Kabir did not commit any crime.

Rayhan Kabir's family and local people of Naryanganj where he hails from, stated that as a conscious person Rayhan always expressed his opinion on issue that he deems unfair.

“We call upon Malaysian government and law enforcement agencies not to harass him. In this regard, we request 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.”

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 singed the joint statement.