Detention of Adilur Rahman Khan at KLIA, Malaysia.
Statement of Odhikar, 21 July 2017
At approximately 11:00 pm (Bangladesh time), on 19 July 2017, Adilur Rahman Khan Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Secretary of Odhikar, boarded a Malaysia Airlines flight, MH 113, to Kuala Lumpur to attend the Second General Assembly Meeting of the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), of which Odhikar is a member.
He arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at about 4:50 am (Malaysian time) on 20 July, with the meeting commencing later that same morning.
At the immigration desk, when he submitted his passport the immigration officer entered his name in the database and gave Adil a small piece of paper with two words written in Bahasa Malaya. Later the representatives of the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia told him the words meant ‘suspect’. The immigration officer also gave him his passport back and told him submit his passport to an officer in a nearby room for verification.
On submitting his passport to the second officer, Adil had to wait while the police made a phone call and waited for instructions. The police refused to answer his questions. At approximately 7:30 am he was told to follow another immigration police officer. As Adil was being escorted to the other end of the airport, he was able to e-mail a coordinator of ADPAN from his phone and in a sentence told her he was not going to be allowed out of the airport and was possibly going to be detained. He got an immediate reply from her, with the number of a Malaysian colleague of hers. He was able to talk and she told him she was informing the National Human Rights Commission immediately. He also told her to inform SUARAM (a local human rights organization) as well, as it was a member of the same international networks Odhikar was.
At the lock-up, Adil was told to remove his shoes and his belongings, cell phone and laptop were taken away. He was then locked in a large room that could only be opened by an electronic password. Approximately sixty people were in that room, a large number of whom were Bangladeshi. Others were from India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Palestine and Iran. There were a few from several from the African continent too.
After an hour there, he was taken out of the lock and told to hand over 350 Malaysian Ringgit or 100 US Dollars for food and given two biscuits, a bottle of water, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bar of soap. He was then sent back in. The only toilet facility in the lock up was filthy and insufficient for the number of people in the room.
At around noon, a police officer came and asked Adil whether he had informed anyone outside about this detention. Adil told him that while he was being taken to the lock up he managed to inform a friend, before his cell phone was taken away. The officer then loudly said: ‘why did you do it?’ After a while, another officer came and told Adil that friends from the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission wanted to know about his status and that his boss at the Immigration Department wanted to confirm that he was Adilur Rahman Khan and verify this to the Human Rights Commission. He took a picture of Adil on his cellphone.
The detention facility at the airport is privately run and one of its officials came and took Adil to a separate room that was approximately six by ten feet. There he was given a cup of tea and the lunch he paid for. He was locked in there till 6:00 pm and had to use the toilet in the main, large holding cell. At 6:00 pm, he was taken back to the first room he was kept waiting in (before the large detention cell), where two representatives from the Human Rights Commission were allowed to meet him. They asked him whether he had been told he was going to be detained. He said that the police did not tell him that. They told him that a lawyer had come to the airport to meet him, but was not allowed to do so. In the morning a team from the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission had come, but were not allowed either. Adil told the representatives of the National Human Rights Commission everything that had happened and handed over the paper given to him by the first immigration officer. As he was talking to them, a police officer came and took a picture of them.
After a thirty minute discussion, he was taken to the reception area of the detention facility. At 7:00 pm he was taken to the boarding gate and put on Malaysia Airlines flight MH112 back to Dhaka. His passport was not given to him, but to a crew member of the flight. On his arrive in Dhaka at 10:20pm (Dhaka Time), a Bangladeshi airport official escorted him to the immigration police office. He was there for approximately fifteen minutes. His passport was returned to him and he left the airport. He still does not know the actual reason for his detention and subsequent deportation. The matter is under investigation by the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission.
In the KLIA detention facility, Adil observed that those detainees who had no money for food, were satiating their hunger by drinking tap water; the officers were rude to the detainees and were even commenting ‘no money-no food’.He was told by the Bangladeshis there that their families did not know where they were; and that the officials were taking money in exchange for phone calls. Furthermore, many of the detainees claimed that they had valid visas issues by their local Malaysian Embassy, and yet they had been detained. For example, a young women who had travelled to Malaysia to be with her husband who was working there for over 11 years, was issued with a visa by the Malaysian Embassy in Dhaka, but she was detained as well and deported back to Dhaka with Adil.
On behalf of Odhikar and Adil, we would like to thank the National Human Rights Commission Malaysia, the Malaysian Bar, SUARAM, BERSIH 2.0; ADPAN, AHRC, Forum-Asia, ANFREL, AFAD, FIDH, OMCT and all their network members; Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Frontline Defenders, the RFK Human Rights, UN Human Rights-Asia; journalists and human rights defenders; and our dearest friends in the human rights community for their activism and unwavering support.
The Odhikar Team