21 OCTOBER 2011
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) held a watching brief today at the Sessions Court for the decision of the 29 detainees who were arrested for participating in a rally against the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 1st August 2009 in Kuala Lumpur.
The judge Ainol Shahrin in her judgment today acquitted and discharged the charges against 13 detainees who were charged under the Societies Act for assisting in the distribution of t-shirts for an ‘unlawful society’ known as ‘Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA’. Meanwhile, the remaining 16 will enter their defense at the Sessions Court on 1st and 2nd December 2011.
On 3rd August 2009, 16 people who allegedly participated in the rally were charged under Section 143 of the Penal Code for illegal assembly and alternatively, they were charged with illegal assembly under the Police Act 1967. Another 13 were charged under the Societies Act for assisting in the distribution of t-shirts for an ‘unlawful society’ known as the ‘Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA’.
SUARAM is dissatisfied with the decision against the 16 individuals who are required to give their defense in December although the trial of this case has clearly shown that the prosecution was unable to bring evidence against all of them. The 16 individuals were arrested before the assembly began on the assumption that they would participate in the assembly. Despite that, they continue to be charged for participating in an unlawful assembly under Section 27 (5)(a) of the Police Act.
Every citizen of Malaysia has the right to assemble and as stated by SUHAKAM, any peaceful assembly does not require a permit and the organizers merely have to inform the police. GMI, the rally organizers had informed the police that this rally will take place and requested cooperation from the police to protect the safety of the participants. Instead of protecting the rights and safety of the participants, the police arrested participants.
SUARAM is disappointed with the decision of the court today and we demand that the court delivers justice by acquitting the 16 individuals from the charges in line with international human rights instruments.
In addition, SUARAM calls on the Najib administration to drop the charges against the 16 individuals in light of the announcement that the ISA will be repealed. If Prime Minister Najib Razak truly has the intention to repeal the ISA, then all those who were arrested and charged in relation to the anti-ISA rally in 2009 should be freed. It is time that Prime Minister Najib Razak leads the nation towards a truly democratic society by taking the step towards removing all barriers against the right to freedom of assembly.
On the day of the anti-ISA rally, 1 August 2009, as early as 3.40am, 14 members of the Parti Islam Malaysia (PAS) security team, Unit Amal, were arrested. Even a few hours before the time of the assembly, police searched and started arresting individuals who were wearing or carrying anti-ISA shirts at Central Market, Sogo, Masjid Jamek and Masjid Negara. In total, 589 people were arrested on the day of the rally, including 44 children and 40 women. 498 people were released on the same day and 91 were held at Bukit Jalil Police Station.
Those charged with illegal assembly were Nordin Mohamad, Hayati Abdul Samad, Salmah Ismail, Norlaila Othman, Nashita Mohd Noor, Rashini, Hasbullah Pit, Wan Muhamad Jazlan, Mohd Pitri Mohd Yassin, Syaza Muaz Shaharudin, Mohd Sukri Mohd Sirat, Mohamd Sukeri Muhammad, Mohd Sallehuddin Yusof, Zulfasli Kama Kutty, Mohd Fazly Mohd Ismail, and Norazam Sakib.
They were said to have gathered where they were picked up, between 9am and 1.30pm, in the vicinity of Masjid Negara and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. The offence is punishable with a six-month jail term and a fine.
The 13 deemed to have assisted the protesters were Muhamad Sholihin, Ahmad Abd Wahab Abd Rahman, Abu Ubaidah Jalaluddin, Shahrul Iman M Salleh, Kamarul Nadhir Kadini, Mohd Ikhwan Ikram, Shamsul Anuar Nordin, Mohd Fadzil Jan Dam, Saad Musa, Mohd Hafizudin M Ghazali, Mohd Helmi Hassan, Mohd Lokman Amad Ulawi and Faizudin Hamzah.
They were jointly charged with assisting in the distribution of t-shirts at Jalan Kinabalu, near Masjid Negara at 3.50am on Saturday. This is punishable with a maximum RM3,000 fine.