(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): It is most shocking that the Malaysian Embassy in Bangladesh has refused to issue a visa for Bangladeshi human rights activist and lawyer, Nizamul Huq Nasim, to visit Malaysia to be an international observer at the trial of Irene Fernandez, Tenaganita director, who is facing trial for "maliciously publishing false news" in connection with a report she prepared that criticized conditions of detention centers for foreign migrant workers in Malaysia.
During the resumed trial of Irene Fernandex from yesterday till Oct. 17, 1997, Golam Ahad, a Bangladeshi with permanent resident status in Malaysia would be the 34th prosecution witness. Golam Ahad, besides having had a manpower agency in 1994-1995, has been a social worker. He had raised problems of Bangladeshi migrant workers to both the Bangladesh High Commission and to Malaysian authorities for action. He had also played a role in Tenaganitaís research on "Migration, Health and HV/AIDS" and assisted in bringing about the Memorandum on "Abuse, Torture and Dehumanised Treatment of Migrant Workers at Detention Centres". Irene Fernandezís charge for "maliciously publishing false news" under the Printing Presses and Publications Act stemmed from the latter memorandum.
It is for this reason that Ain O Salish Kendra, a human rights organisation based in Dhaka, wants to be present during this period of the trial and had chosen Nizamul to represent it as an International Observer for the trial.
Nizamul had been an International Observer twice during the trial in July 1996 and July 1997.
The denial of a visa to Nizamul to continue as International Observer in Irene Fernandezí trial will be an adverse reflection on the Malaysian judicial system and the trial of Irene Fernandez and I call on the Ministry of Home Affairs to direct the Malaysian Embassy in Bangladesh to issue Nizamul a visa entry into Malaysia immediately.
I will also be raising the issue of the denial of visa entry to Nizamul to be an international observer at the continnued trial of Irene Fernandez at the current meeting of Parliament.