After a long and agonizing wait, the parents of Bangladeshi expatriate youth Mohammad Rayhan Kabir, who caused a stir in Malaysia by speaking out on a crackdown on undocumented immigrants in an Al Jazeera documentary, finally received their son with tears of joy on Saturday.
After being deported by the Malaysian authorities Rayhan Kabir who served in Malaysian jail for 27 days, finally reached home in Shahi Masjid area of Narayanganj’s Bandar at 5:30 am early Saturday.
A very emotional scenario ensued when Rayhan’s mother held her son and burst into tears while she also expressed her gratitude to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for taking measures to bring him back.
Locals thronged Rayhan’s residence later in the morning to meet the boy, who didn’t refrain from telling the truth about what he felt was injustice committed by the immigration police of Malaysia against his Bangladeshi flatmate and friend, who was undocumented.
Rayhan himself was working on a valid work permit.
His father Shah Alam said “We are relieved after Rayhan’s return. He came empty handed; all his certificates of higher education are left behind in Malaysia but I have no remorse. My only wish was Rayhan’s safe return.”
“I will never send him abroad, our son will remain with us,” he said.
Rayhan’s mother Rashida Begum said he went to Malaysia in September, 2019 and was arrested on July 24.
“I have spent sleepless nights since Rayhan’s arrest,” she said. “Now he is home; he would do whatever he feels worthy. He will continue working for oppressed people.”
Shah Alam along with Shariful Hasan, Head of the Migration Programme at Brac, received Rayhan at Dhaka airport at 2am (Saturday morning.
Since Rayhan’s arrest by an intelligence unit of Malaysian Immigration Department, some three weeks after the documentary aired on the Qatar-based channel, Shah Alam said they received details on Rayhan’s whereabouts from Shariful Hasan.
Rayhan completed Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) from Government Tolaram College in 2014, went to Malaysia for higher education at TMT University of Kuala Lumpur in 2017. Later, he took a part time job at a private company to meet the expense of his education.
“I have said nothing offensive about the Malaysian government in the interview in the Al Jazeera documentary,” Rayhan said. “I just explained the sorrows and problems of expatriates. Police arrested me on wrong information so they failed to frame charges against me.”
Rayhan was arrested after Qatar based television channel aired a documentary- “Locked up in Malaysia lockdown” on Malaysia’s crackdown on immigrants amid covid-19 pandemic where Rayhan gave the interview on July 3.
Rayhan has been staying in Malaysia legally before Malaysian authorities abruptly rejected his work permit for giving the interview.
In Malaysia, Rayhan was put on 27-day remand in two phrases. He was brought to the airport for his departure in handcuffs. Another Bengali expatriate gave him a shirt as the only shirt he was wearing in those days was ruined.
“Mohammad Rayhan Kabir will be deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever,” Khairul Dzaimee Daud, director general, Malaysian Immigration, had said following his arrest. It reflected the mood among the Malaysian authorities. Whether he had committed any crime or not, Rayhan’s fate was clearly sealed.
Malaysian human rights advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty released a statement asserting that Rayhan “has not said anything even remotely in breach of the country’s laws.” Eventually the authorities said they wouldn’t be pressing charges.
Coming at a time when rights activists have voiced concerns over a clampdown on freedom of speech and media independence under new Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who took power in March, the incident clearly touched a raw nerve.
Malaysian police also grilled a group of reporters and staff from Al-Jazeera. Malaysian authorities claimed that Al-Jazeera failed to apply for a license before shooting the documentary, but the broadcaster said it didn’t need one.
Astro, satellite television provider, was recently fined by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for airing an Al-Jazeera documentary in 2015 over the 2006 murder of a Mongolian woman that allegedly contained “offensive content.” Source: UNB