Deporting a young Muslim writer to his death?

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 Jan -There was no necessity for the swift handover of Hamza Kashgari, the Saudi Arabian writer accused of blasphemy, to Saudi authorities, as there is no extradition treaty between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Klang, Charles Santiago said today in a statement that there was no immediate necessity to hand Kashgari over to the Saudi authorities.

“The young journalist was aiming to seek asylum. The BN government has completely disregarded human rights and sent a young man to face possible death in his home country.” Santiago said.

The government of Malaysia yesterday in a strikingly quick reaction, instantly complied with Saudi Arabia’s request to deport Kashgari, despite the fact that he is likely to be executed for his tweet.

23-year old Hamza Kashgari became a subject of persecution in his home country due to his tweets during the Mawlid (birthday) of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) which were deemed blasphemous by Saudi clerics, and caused a national outrage calling for him to be put to death.

“If Kashgari is executed, Malaysia would have blood on its hands,” Santiago warned.

Malaysia police apprehended Hamza at Interpol’s request as he was making his way out of Malaysia to seek asylum in New Zealand. Blasphemy is not a capital offence in Malaysia.

Santiago condemned Hamza’s deportation as making a mockery of Prime Minister Najib’s efforts at creating a “Global Movement of Moderates”.

“The Malaysian government has failed a young Saudi who was fleeing his country fearing persecution,” Santiago said.

According to Santiago, Interpol has infringed its obligations to fundamental human rights, which include the right to free speech, by using the organization’s red notice system to have Kashgari detained in Kuala Lumpur.

Human rights organisation Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) in a statement warned that deporting Hamza to Saudi Arabia would lead to his persecution, a sham trial and eventually, the death penalty. LFL says that Hamza should not be sacrificed in the name of diplomatic expediency. He should instead be given his right to claim asylum and be provided with full recourse under Malaysian law.

LFL believes that Hamza’s deportation contravenes international customary law that prohibits refoulement (deportation) of a person to a country where he will face further persecution.

Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Liew Chin Tong today stated that the millions that the Najib administration spent on public relations companies are meaningless if the government fails at upholding basic human rights as in the case of Kashgari. “Yesterday was a black day for Malaysia in the eyes of the world,” he remarked.

Liew referred to the recent British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) global apology over the FBC Media scandal which put Malaysia in the international spotlight for embarrassing reasons. Media company FBC produced eight documentaries for the BBC about Malaysia while failing to declare that it was paid £17 million by the Malaysian government for “global strategic communications”. – The Rocket

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