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Bersih condemns Malaysian immigration’s detention of award-winning Bangladeshi activist

Adilur Rahman Khan

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Bersih 2.0 refers to the ongoing detention by Malaysian immigration authorities of renowned Bangladeshi human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan.

At approximately 4am today, Adilur was detained by Malaysian immigration authorities at Kuala Lumpur International Airport as he tried to enter the country to attend a conference on The Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific”, organised by the Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan), Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) and the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

Adilur is still in the custody of immigration authorities. Enquiries to the Department of Immigration on his detention have been referred to Bukit Aman Police Headquarters.

Adilur is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, a former deputy attorney general for Bangladesh and a founder of the human rights organisation Odhikar. He is also a recipient of the May 18 Foundation Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and the International Bar Association Human Rights Award. He has been a finalist for the Martin Ennals Awards for Human Rights Defenders and the Front Line Defenders Award.

As a fellow laureate of the May 18 Foundation Gwangju Award, Bersih 2.0 is extremely concerned about the treatment of an internationally renowned human rights defender at the hands of the Malaysian authorities.

We demand an explanation from the director general of the Department of Immigration and the Home Ministry on the reason for the police order to bar Adilur from entry into Malaysia and his subsequent ongoing detention for over 12 hours. We further call for Adilur’s immediate and unconditional release.

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This treatment of Adilur is an embarrassment to Malaysia on the world stage. Given his recognised dedication to the promotion of human rights and democracy, such an individual should be welcomed to share his experiences and knowledge, instead of being treated as a threat to national security.

The detention of Adilur now appears to be part of a trend of the Government to prevent discourse on human rights and democracy in Malaysia. Since 2015, several activists have been blocked from entering the country, including Indonesian human rights activist Mugiyanto Sipin, Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong and Singapore activist Han Hui Hui.

These actions must raise questions, domestically and internationally, on the Malaysian government’s commitment to the principles of human rights and why the government seems to fear the presence of international human rights defenders in Malaysia.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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