Why the rush to deport Kashgari?

Charles Santiago

The Malaysian government has failed a young Saudi, who was fleeing his country fearing persecution, by deporting him to possibly face execution in his home country. There is no other way to say this.

Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old journalist was en route to New Zealand to seek asylum, when he was detained in Malaysia following a request made by the Interpol.

The international police organization was aware that the Saudi king had issued an order to bring Kashgari “to justice” and the clerics are demanding that he be charged with apostasy for tweeting about Prophet Mohammad.

Apostasy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, 13,000 people have joined a Facebook page titled “The Saudi People Demand the Execution of Hamza Kashgari”.

Firstly, Interpol has transgressed its obligations to fundamental human rights, which include the right to free speech, by using the organization’s red notice system to get Kashgari to be detained in Kuala Lumpur.

While we would not get into the nitty gritty details as to whether Kashgari’s tweets were blasphemous, its not possible to ignore the decision of the ruling government which has acted with haste.

There is no extradition treaty between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Hence there was no necessity to quickly hand Kashgari over to the people who are calling for his head.

The deportation is unlawful as Kashgari’s lawyer, Muhammad Afiq Mohamad Nor, had obtained a court order to block the deportation.

And the crux of this issue lies in the fact that the young blogger was aiming to seek asylum. So the question that begs to be answered is why the UNHCR officers were not allowed access to Kashgari. This is a blatant violation of human rights.

It’s equally disturbing to note that Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein had said the Malaysian Jemaah Islamiah members need not have been shot dead by Indonesian authorities as they could have been rehabilitated, given that Malaysia portrays the image of a moderate Muslim nation.

But deporting Kashgari is anything but moderation, and therefore Malaysia should not have played a role in assisting Saudi Arabia.

But the government has done the exact opposite. It has, with complete disregard for human rights, sent a young man to face possible death in his home country.

If Kashgari is executed, Malaysia would have blood on its hands.