Press Statement: 1 June 2013
Malaysia brings deceit, hypocrisy to UN
The Malaysian government is exposing its own deceit and hypocrisy on the world stage, formally espousing co-operation and engagement over human rights issues at the United Nations while the facts reveal it has jailed, suppressed and intimidated ordinary Malaysians, activist leaders, civil society groups, government critics and opposition politicians at home.
Meeting in Geneva for the 23rd Session of the world body’s Human Rights Council, SUARAM and Aliran pointed to a statement by the office of Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, which painted a picture of the BN government as an advocate of human rights.
“The government’s statement completely ignored the ongoing suppression of the rights of civil society and politicians, which has made world news in the weeks following the latest general election,” said Nalini Elumalai, the Executive Director of SUARAM, who heads a delegation that includes Yolanda Augustin and Bala Chelliah.
The Malaysians were this week in Geneva to address the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Maina Kiai, and UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank La Rue.
The Malaysian statement was made in a formal reply to a report by Mr Kiai, who expressed concern “about the alleged attacks against human rights defenders” after the recent 13th general election”. Mr Kiai’s reference to Bersih and SUARAM, and how its leaders and supporters faced intimidation and harassment by BN politicians, as well as the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and the Companies Commission (CCM) of Malaysia, was clear and direct, but it was totally ignored in Malaysia’s response.
In his opening address at the interactive dialogue on Freedom of Assembly and of Association on the 30th of May 2013 Maiana Kiai mentioned Malaysia further and highlighted the fact that although the Malaysian government has offered an invitation of an official mission visit to Malaysia to date they have not confirmed the specific dates of such a mission.
SUARAM’s Nalini Elumalai today said: “None of the issues and particularly the factual accounts of arrests, detentions, political violence, threats, intimidation and harassment of civil leaders and politicians was addressed in Malaysia’s reply .Individuals including young students were either in detention or facing arrest even as Malaysia’s statement was delivered to the UN.”
“Freedom of expression is suffering under a serious assault by the government and its institutions, and Malaysians have been threatened with the revocation of their passports for simply participating in rallies that demand fair and free elections. Malaysia chose to ignore these issues and reports, despite the entire world body hearing of serious violations of universally accepted human rights.”
Mr Kiai’s report also noted that Malaysia had failed to respond on two specific issues raised by his office – allegations of on-going investigations against members of SUARAM under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA 2012) and police investigations involving 14 activists who allegedly brought children to a recent opposition-led rally.
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, also tabled a report to the UN’s 23rd Session that referred to ongoing attacks on human rights defenders.
“The right of Malaysians, and politicians in particular, to travel freely within the federation has also been denied,” Nalini Elumalai said, referring to the blocking of Nurul Izzah’s planned visit to Sabah. “This is now world news, but Malaysia takes to the world stage shamelessly ignoring these dangerous developments and precedents.”
Nalini welcomed “Putrajaya’s responsible stand as a global citizen on Syria and Myanmar”, and called on Malaysia “should not delay any further in ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”). This is an independent and permanent court of last resort to try persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression”.
But she said: “Malaysia will continue to operate its detention centre in Kamunting and hold 15 citizens under the Internal Security Act, which no longer exists, while it calls for the closing of the US offshore detention facility in Guantanamo. It only serves to depict Malaysia as a two-faced member state of the UN that refuses to address the truth of its own deprivations.”