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Malaysia to expel Bangladeshi man over migrant comments

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The migrant had criticized the Malaysian government over its treatment of undocumented refugees in a documentary by news broadcaster Al-Jazeera. Malaysian authorities now want to deport him to Bangladesh.

Malaysian authorities said on Sunday they detained a Bangladeshi man over his involvement in a foreign documentary.

Mohamad Rayhan Kabir had been on the run since police launched a probe about the July 3 documentary by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera broadcaster.

Malaysia’s Immigration Department said that Kabir, 25, was arrested by its intelligence unit on Friday, and that it has revoked his work permit.

“This Bangladeshi national will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever,” immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a brief statement.

‘Dignity of migrants’

The documentary, titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown,” investigated the plight of undocumented immigrants at risk during the coronavirus pandemic in the Southeast Asian country.

According to media reports, Malaysian authorities arrested more than 2,000 migrant workers, including children and Rohingya refugees, amid the coronavirus pandemic and placed them under strict lockdowns.

Public opposition to migrant workers has also been growing in the country, with some people accusing them of spreading the coronavirus and being a burden on government resources.

Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper quoted Kabir as saying in a WhatsApp message shortly before his arrest that he did not commit any crime.

“I did not lie. I have only talked about discrimination against the migrants. I want the dignity of migrants and my country ensured. I believe all migrants and Bangladesh will stand with me,” Kabir said.

Malaysian police also interrogated Al-Jazeera’s staff and reporters and said they would submit their findings to prosecutors for further action. Authorities said Al-Jazeera did not apply for a license before shooting the documentary, but the broadcaster said it didn’t require one.

Al-Jazeera has urged Malaysian authorities to drop criminal investigation and respect its right to report freely without intimidation.

Curbs on free speech

Rights activists say that restrictions on media and freedom of speech have increased under new prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who came to power in March.

The attorney general is investigating popular online news portal Malaysiakini and its editor over comments posted by readers against the judiciary.

Recently, police also questioned an activist about a social media post about an alleged mistreatment of refugees at immigration detention centers.

Earlier, a journalist from the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post was grilled over her reporting on migrant arrests.

shs/rc (AP, Reuters) (DW)