Rights Group Slams Immigration Dept’s Circular Seeking Bangladeshi Man on Al-Jazeera Documentary

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Rights group Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) today slammed the government and its agencies for singling out a Bangladeshi man featured in a recent online documentary, saying such action will further stoke the outrage currently faced by the man.

The group, through its coordinator Zaid Malek, in a statement today condemned the government’s “disproportionate reactions” to the 25-minute Al-Jazeera documentary, adding how the worries expressed by the now-wanted Bangladeshi man was not without a reason.

Zaid said Immigration Department’s decision to release the Bangladeshi national’s full name, and last known address could even be construed as a ‘state-sanctioned witch hunt’ which they said could “bring untold harm to the man”.

“The Bangladeshi man, who was featured in the Al-Jazeera documentary, is now a victim to a slew of inflammatory and xenophobic attacks by a segment of the public for his criticism of the government’s mass arrest of migrants during the MCO (movement control order).

“We are appalled that the authorities chose to single out this individual, an action which would have the unfortunate result of further stoking the disproportionate outrage this man is currently facing.

Zaid pointed out how the Bangladeshi national had during the documentary expressed great concern for a friend detained at an Immigration Detention Centre, which he said was warranted considering how an Indian national had actually passed away after contracting Covid-19 while under detention here.

“Thus, the decision by the Immigration authorities to threaten criminal action against him or any other concerned migrants is an unacceptable response that flies on the face of the law and basic human decency,” he wrote.

He then pressed for authorities to cease any criminal action against the Bangladeshi national, saying a mere statement from relevant authorities to disprove or refute the claims brought upon by the foreigner or in the documentary would suffice.

“We also urge the government to take immediate steps to deescalate the rising xenophobic sentiments against migrants and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect.

“They must not be tolerant of any attacks on the migrant community, a group that has been significant in contributing to the growth of the nation,” he wrote.

Concerning the documentary itself, LFL claimed there was nothing contained within the production which were new findings, and definitely nothing to warrant any criminal investigations by authorities.

“Nothing highlighted in the documentary is, in fact, new; it merely echoes criticisms already brought forth by various NGOs and Suhakam regarding the mass arrest conducted during the movement control order (MCO),” Zaid wrote, referring to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

“If there truly was anything that was misreported, the government could simply release their own statements to refute any inaccuracies,” he added.

The documentary, titled Locked up in Malaysia’s lockdown, was released on June 3 had alleged that Malaysian authorities were mistreating undocumented migrant workers here and claimed mass arrests were made during the movement control order.

Ministers, the Immigration Department, and the police have all reacted to the documentary, with Defence minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob demanding an apology from the news agency.

The Immigration’s director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimdee Daud had then warned that foreigner nationals making negative statements about Malaysia could see their passes revoked, a day before his department released the Bangladeshi’s complete details seeking public assistance to locate him.

Police yesterday revealed that investigations into the documentary and all parties involved in its production had begun since June 10 and would be investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation, Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act. – MMO