A substantial number of undocumented Bangladeshi workers have been arrested in Malaysia in the nationwide crackdowns launched by the Malaysian immigration department On September 1 after the expiry of an amnesty.
At least 65 Bangladeshi workers, reportedly victims of trafficking, were rescued by the Malaysian police on September 5, according to Malaysian media reports.
Over 500 undocumented foreign workers, including Bangladeshis, were arrested in the crackdown on the first day on September 1, reported Malaysian newspaper The Star without specifying number of Bangladeshi workers.
Migrant rights organisations in Malaysia and Bangladesh said that most of the undocumented migrants were victims of human trafficking or exploitation of the employers and agents.
They demanded the Malaysian government to halt the crackdown and punish the errant employers and agents who cheated the migrant workers.
On September 5, Malaysian immigration police rescued 65 Bangladeshi workers, believed to be victims of human trafficking, from the dormitory of a foreign worker recruitment company in Bandar Baru Nilai and arrested two Malaysians.
Quoting Malaysian Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali, the country’s national news agency Bernama reported that in the drive, police seized 377 foreign passports of various countries, mainly from Bangladesh, and many more forged documents.
Malaysian immigration department seized the passports and 61 types of documents including contracts, payment vouchers and records pertaining to the company’s dealing with the home ministry, the report said.
Mustafar said that two suspected human traffickers were directors of the company and submitted false information to the home ministry for hiring foreign workers.
He said that cases were filed against the arrested under anti-human trafficking law and money laundering act.
Malaysia-based rights organisation North South Initiative executive director Adrian Pereira told New Age in a message that the government of Bangladesh must take seriously the welfare of its citizens in Malaysia.
‘Legal aid must be provided to ensure that the workers get justice as the corrupt recruitment system is punishing them,’ he said.
He added that several million migrant Bangladeshis had political voice.
Migrant rights campaigner and Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme chairman Shakirul Islam said, ‘We are really upset as our government is still silent over the issue of undocumented Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia.’
He said that the undocumented workers who were being detained in Malaysia were likely to be sent back home.
Awaj Foundation director for migration Anusur Rahman Khan said that steps should be taken by Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to extend the amnesty to legalise the undocumented workers in Malaysia.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, over 9.9 lakh Bangladeshi workers have gone to work in Malaysia.
Despite several attempts, Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur could not be reached for comments.