Malaysia deports Bangladeshi man who criticised treatment of migrants in documentary

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has deported a Bangladeshi worker who criticised the government’s treatment of migrants in a documentary made by broadcaster Al Jazeera, the country’s director general of immigration confirmed on Saturday.

Mohammad Rayhan Kabir was deported to Bangladesh late on Friday, Khairul Dzaimee Daud told Reuters. He did not respond to further queries on why Rayhan was deported.

Accompanied by immigration officers, he was seen waving and giving a thumbs up to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Friday night, state media outlet Bernama reported.

Malaysia arrested 25-year-old Rayhan and blacklisted him from entering the country last month, after Al Jazeera’s July 3 documentary on Malaysia’s treatment of undocumented foreign workers during the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a backlash in the Southeast Asia nation.

At that time, Qatar-based Al Jazeera said it was disturbing Rayhan had been arrested “for choosing to speak up about some of the experiences of the voiceless and the vulnerable.”

Rights groups have accused the government of suppressing media freedom after authorities questioned Al Jazeera’s journalists, raided their office, and opened into alleged sedition, defamation and violation of a communications law.

Malaysia arrested hundreds of undocumented foreigners, including children and Rohingya refugees, after the country imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Malaysian officials said the arrests were necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, which human rights activists have condemned as inhumane.

Activists have also voiced concerns that the nearly six-month-old administration of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is stifling dissent amid a series of clampdowns, an accusation the government has denied.

Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Lincoln Feast.