SUARAM’s 23 YEARS DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS
Through twenty three years of selfless work defending human rights in Malaysia, SUARAM has established itself as the human rights centre of Malaysia. From Operation Lalang through the Reformasi period to the present day, many victims of state oppression have turned to SUARAM for assistance in highlighting their plight. The funding we get goes into nurturin g young activists in human rights work. We employ a handful of dedicated young staff that has chosen this path of service in human rights work. The elder members of the SUARAM secretariat have always been non-staff volunteers in overseeing the running of the organisation.
Since 1989, SUARAM has been the main coordinating secretariat for the Movement against the ISA and other detention without trial laws, the EO and the DDA. Our office serves as the refuge for those whose family members have been victims of state oppression. We send Urgent Appeals throughout the world whenever any detention or other violations of human rights happen. We never leave the detainees or those arrested alone. We will be there until the last person released.
Despite its small staff, SUARAM publishes the only credible and detailed Malaysian Human Rights Report every year without fail and has been doing so since 1998. Such a report is an invaluable service to all the peoples of Malaysia irrespective of ethnicity, religion or creed. Since its founding, SUARAM has worked toward a healthy democratic movement in the country and we could well say that all the efforts by SUARAM in the last 20 years have been instrumental in producing today’s two-front system and the political tsunami of 2008.
Throughout its existence over the last 20 years, SUARAM staff and secretariat have been involved in human rights and environmental education, giving talks, organising seminars and providing training. SUARAM has initiated campaigns against the Bakun dam and the Selangor dam to protect the interests of indigenous peoples, the environment and the interests of Malaysian tax payers. We have also supported marginalised communities such as the urban settlers, estate communities and refugees when they have met eviction and state oppression.
SUARAM has played a role in the “Stop the War Coalition” and has coordinated Anti-US demonstrations and protests against the US-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and Israeli atrocities in Gaza in recent years. SUARAM also played a key role in the last important peace conference for East Timor in 1996 together with other NGOs. We have been part of the campaign for democracy in Burma. In other words, SUARAM has always been in the business of fighting for justice, equality, democracy and human rights in Malaysia and spoken out against imperialism and militarism in the rest of the world.
For our efforts, SUARAM was awarded the Human Rights Award for 2011 by the country’s Human Rights Commission SUHAKAM. The only dividends we have gained in this business over these 23 years are the appreciation of the victims of oppression and exploitation, nature lovers and Malaysian tax payers. And to all our detractors and oppressors we can only say:
“DO YOUR WORST AND WE WILL DO OUR BEST”