Release Natalie Lowrey Immediately – Prolonged Detention Unjustified and An Abuse of Power

We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the unnecessary arrest and detention of Australia based activist of Friends of the Earth Natalie Lowrey that has entered into the sixth day today. The prolonged detention is a serious breach of personal liberty of Natalie Lowrey, as well as her right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of her.

Natalie Lowrey was arrested on 22 June 2014 together with 15 other Malaysian activists in a protest against Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang. While the rest of the 15 have been released in the early morning on Monday, Natalie Lowrey remains in police custody to this day.

The 16, including Natalie Lowrey, should not have been detained in the first place. They merely exercised their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in protest against a rare earth plant that poses great risk to the health and environment of the people in Kuantan. Their peaceful action is perfectly legitimate and should not be criminalised.

We wish to remind the government and the police that the right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly are universal human rights and are recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Malaysia has also endorsed. These rights cannot be nullified merely on the ground that Natalie Lowrey is a foreigner as this is in contravention with international human rights law.

The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which bans foreigners from organizing or participating in peaceful assembly, should be abolished or amended in accordance to international human rights standards.

We consider the police arrest and detention of Natalie Lowrey under the notorious Immigration Act, which allows for a detention of 14 days before being brought to court, as an act done in bad faith. For Malaysian citizens, any police arrest cannot exceed 24 hours, upon which the police should decide to release or charge the person arrested. The prolonged detention of Natalie Lowrey smacks of abuse of power and ill-intention of punishment.

We call on the Malaysian government to heed the increased international calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Natalie Lowrey. The international petition1, which is addressed to the Home Minister Zahid Hamidi, has already garnered more than 14,000 signatures internationally in just five days since it was launched on 23 June 2014.

We call on the National Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to conduct a visit to Kuantan police headquarters to ensure the wellbeing and the rights of Natalie Lowrey are protected.

Endorsees:

  1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  2. Kelab Bangsar Utama
  3. ENGAGE
  4. Gerakan Bunga Raya
  5. Pusat Komas
  6. Kill the Bill
  7. Malaysian Youth Against Public Hazardous
  8. Biro Alam Sekitar, Parti Keadilan Rakyat
  9. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
  10. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & Kuala Lumpur
  11. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  12. Serdang Bharu School Alumni Youth Section
  13. Tamil Foundation
  14. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur (PERMAS)
  15. Himpunan Hijau
  16. Gabungan NGO Pengerang
  17. Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED)
  18. Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Committee
  19. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
  20. LLG Cultural Development Center
  21. Anak Muda Sarawak
  22. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
  23. Pemuda Persatuan Hainan Negeri Sembilan
  24. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces
  25. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  26. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
  27. Community Development Center (CDC)
  28. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  29. Malaysians for Teoh Beng Hock
  30. Solidarity for Civil Rights in China
  31. Tenaganita
  32. Center for Orang Asli Concerns
  33. Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
  34. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
  35. Johor Yellow Flame

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