Bangladeshi filmmaker and screenwriter Anonno Mamun was arrested in Malaysia on charges of human trafficking on December 24. Malaysian police says he smuggled in 57 people under the pretext of a cultural event.
A 48-member-team, including popular singers like Asif Akbor, Akhi Alamgir, rock band Chirkutt, and actors Emon, Nirab, Shokh, Mishty, took part in an event in Kuala Lumpur on December 23 called Cinematic Bangladesh Nights. Anonno was among the key organizers of the event.
HM Rana, a musician who performed at the event, gave the Bangla Tribune a first-hand account of the events surrounding the arrest.
According to the Bangla Tribune report, some of the performers including Rana were housed at an apartment building while the majority was placed in hotels. On December 24, the day after the event, Rana contacted Rakib – one of Anonno’s assistants – and was asked to go up to the 19th floor from his suite on the 15th floor. When he arrived, Rana discovered around seven to eight people who were identified as undercover policemen by Miraz – another of Anonno’s assistants.
[caption id="attachment_236167" align="alignleft" width="300"] Anonno Mamun
Rana introduced himself and was asked to wait in a separate room with Rakib and Miraz. The police presence made him feel uneasy, in spite of the assistants trying to reassure him. Rakib also told him that if Anonno were to be arrested, his social media presence would continue because his wife had standing instructions to remain active on Facebook using Anonno’s account.
Day turned to night, and the situation remained at standstill until a man named Sayem said a pay-off of 10,000 Malaysian Ringgit would end the deadlock for Rana. Rakib and Miraz called Anonno, who told them to take care of themselves, and then hung up.
Tensions were beginning to run high, until Anonno arrived with a woman and a man around 1am. He introduced the man as Shiva who he claimed was a major crime boss in Malaysia. His assistants brightened up, saying they would be celebrating Christmas in no time.
Anonno was taken to another room for questioning. Rana said he heard noises of beatings and began to grow fearful. They called Anonno over the phone, who sounded like he was in high spirits as he said there was no reason for anyone to beat him up.
Around 2am, a police officer entered the room and asked for their passports. When Rakib and Miraz failed to produce their passports, they were berated for entering Malaysia without legal documents.
Rana showed the police his papers and was let go. As Rana was departing, he came across Anonno handcuffed along with 10-12 other people, including the pair who accompanied him to his rooms.
Anonno requested Rana to stay quiet about the events that transpired before he was taken away.
According to The Sun Daily, a total of 57 people were trafficked under guise of the event. Each paid around Tk2.5 lakh, an approximate total of Tk1.42 crore. Event host Debashish Biswas said the police told him and the other performers that all the illegal immigrants had paid off their fee.
Dang Wangi Assistant Commissioner of Police Shaharudin Abdullah said the arrests were carried out by a special team from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Unit.
The police chief said Anonno had been under the radar of the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs for quite some time.
Several of the performers at the event strongly condemned Anonno after his trafficking activities were revealed.
The Straits Times quoted Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia Md Shahidul Islam saying: "We have learnt about the incident and we are looking into the matter. This kind of incident in a foreign country is very embarrassing."