Forum-Asia: Malaysia – Cease harassment of Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (CAGED)

(Bangkok, 2 June 2017) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) calls on the Government of Malaysia to cease the persecution of the newly established Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (CAGED), which FORUM-ASIA member Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) holds the Secretariat for, and instead focus on recent cases of enforced disappearances in the country. The Government should start with declaring the cases as enforced disappearances; conducting thorough, impartial, and independent investigations into the disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Pastor Raymond Koh; and initiate the ratification process of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED).

The last half year has seen a worrying increase in disappearances in Malaysia. Amri Che Mat, age 43, was abducted on 24 November 2016. Amri is a co-founder of the charity organisation Perlis Hope. Amri had been accused of spreading the teachings of Shia, which has been deemed haram (forbidden) by the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia. Amri was disappeared at Bukit Chabang, Perlis.

Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu were likely abducted on 30 November 2016. Pastor Joshua, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, had been suspected of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. While there is little information about what happened to them, a friend of the couple filed a police report after not having been able to reach or locate them for an extended period of time. According to the police, the complainant could not provide sufficient information for them to take any action.

Pastor Raymond Koh, age 62, disappeared in the morning of 13 February 2017. CCTV footage, which is publicly available, shows the Pastor exiting a highway in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur when numerous black SUVs and motorcycles block his car. Several men are seen exiting the cars and running to Pastor Raymond. After a while the convoy drives away. Beyond this, nothing more is known about his whereabouts. The abduction of Pastor Raymond and of Amri were reportedly very similar.

Pastor Raymond headed Harapan Komuniti, a church-based charity organisation that helps, among other things, distribute food to people of all faiths. Pastor Raymond had also been accused of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity, and had, as such, received threats before.

In response to this rise in disappearances, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, CAGED, was established on 5 May 2017. SUARAM holds the Secretariat of CAGED. Since its foundation, CAGED has issued statements and helped hold candle-light vigils to commemorate the disappeared across Malaysia.

Article 2 of the ICPPED defines enforced disappearances as:  ‘the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law’.

Based on this definition, CAGED has issued statements calling on the Government of Malaysia to address the enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Pastor Raymond Koh. In direct response to this, the Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted that the allegations were shocking, and called for the involved non-governmental organisations to be summoned for questioning.

On 24 May 2017, Executive Director of SUARAM, Sevan Doraisamy, CAGED spokesperson, Thomas Fann, and Rama Ramanathan from Bersih 2.0 were summoned to clarify their claims that the cases were enforced disappearances under Section 505(B) of the Penal Code. The three, were summoned as witnesses, refused to answer many of the questions put to them, and instead responded they would only answer the questions in court.

The cases of Amri and Pastor Raymond have already been reported to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). However, as filing such a report requires permission from the family, this has not been done yet for Pastor Joshua and his wife Ruth. Statements condemning the disappearances of Amri and Pastor Raymond have been issued by the United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia.

FORUM-ASIA firstly calls on the Government of Malaysia to cease the harassment of Sevan Doraisamy, Thomas Fann, and Rama Ramanathan, and all others involved with CAGED. Instead, the Government should prioritise the investigations into the disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Pastor Raymond Koh, and recognise these as enforced disappearance. Finally, the Government should immediately ratify the ICPPED without any further delay, and fulfil all obligations that come with it.

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For a PDF version of this statement, please click here.

For further information, please contact:

– Communication and Media Team, FORUM-ASIA, [email protected]

Kenyataan media SUARAM – Pelancaran Laporan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia SUARAM 2016

Suaram melancarkan Laporan Tahunan Hak Asasi Manusia 2016 pada 6 Jun 2017 bagi menarik perhatian umum tentang pencabulan hak asasi pada tahun 2016 dan mengiktiraf perjuangan dan pengorbanan pembela hak asasi (human rights defenders) dalam perjuangan memperkasakan demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia di Malaysia. Walaupun dengan tekanan kuat diberikan oleh organisasi hak asasi dan komuniti antarabangsa, pencabulan hak masih lagi tidak berkesudahan dan makin merosot.

Sepanjang tahun 2016, SUARAM mendapati kerajaan Malaysia meneruskan penggunaan Akta Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-langkah Khas) 2012 (SOSMA), Akta Pencegahan Jenayah 1959 (POCA), Akta Penjegahan Keganasan 2015 (POTA), dan Akta Dadah Merbahaya (Langkah-langkah Khas) 1985 (DDA) untuk menahan seseorang tanpa bicara; Pejuang Hak Asasi seperti Aktivis Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah dan Mandeep Singh, telah ditahan kerana peranan mereka di dalam menganjurkan perhimpunan aman; keganasan polis, penyalahgunaan kuasa daripada pihak berkuasa dan kecuaian telah menyumbang kepada lebih daripada 300 kematian banduan semasa berada di dalam tahanan polis, penjara, atau pusat tahanan imigresen.

Sorotan Utama pada 2016 termasuklah:

(1) Kerajaan meneruskan penggunaan Akta Hasutan 1948, Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 (CMA), dan Akta Rahsia Rasmi 1972 (OSA) masih disalahgunakan oleh pihak pemerintah untuk menahan, menganiaya, dan mendakwa rakyat yang dikatakan melawan ataupun mencabar pemerintah manakala penangkapan dibawah CMA bagi komen-komen sosial media berlaku hampir setiap minggu.

(2) Akta Perhimpunan Aman 2012 telah digunakan untuk menahan dan menyiasat rakyat yang merancang, menghadiri atau berucap di demonstrasi aman. Insiden perhimpunan awam yang ketara termasuk aktivis-aktivis dipanggil untuk memberikan kenyataan semasa Konvoi Bersih dan Bersih 5; wakil daripada jawatankuasa penganjur bagi Sambutan Hari Pekerja yang dipanggil untuk memberi kenyataan; dan penahanan penganjur protes komuniti dibawah seksyen 186 kanun keseksaan

(3) SUARAM menerima laporan tentang penyeksaan dan pelbagai layanan tidak berperikemanusiaan ataupun layanan yang bertujuan untuk menghina orang tahanan. Antara kes yang dipantau dan diterima SUARAM termasuk, keganasan seksual oleh anggota polis di Jinjang, tuduhan penderaan fizikal keatas Dato R. Sri Sanjeevan; dan penyeksaan secara sistematik melalui kurungan berasingan dan penafikan keperluan asas terhadap puan Maria Chin semasa beliau ditahan dibawah SOSMA.

(4) Penahanan secara arbitrari terhadap individu yang disyaki sebagai anggota kongsi gelap di bawah SOSMA dan POCA melonjak sepanjang 2016; dan ‘pemanjangan’ penahanan melalui proses memindahkan tertuduh diantara SOSMA dan POCA memberikan kerajaan kuasa untuk menahan seorang individu sebanyak 88 hari tanpa dibicarakan.

SUARAM menggesa kerajaan Malaysia untuk mengambil langkah proaktif untuk melindungi hak asasi di Malaysia seperti yang dijamin di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia dan Deklarasi Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Undang-undang yang bertentangan dengan piawaian hak asasi manusia antarabangsa mesti dimansuhkan segera dan mangsa yang telah dianiaya di bawah Akta Hasutan, CMA, Akta Perhimpunan Aman 2012 dan undang-undang drakonian lain harus debebaskan serta merta! Kegagalan untuk memenuhi tanggungjawab kerajaan untuk mempertahankan hak asasi manusia akan menjejaskan kedudukan Malaysia sebagai anggota komuniti antarabangsa dan menjadikan usaha Kerajaan ke arah Majlis Hak Asasi Manusia sebagai sebuah sandiwara dan mngaibkan Malaysia dan rakyatnya dalam arena antarabangsa.

 

Dalam Solidariti,

Sevan Doraisamy
Pengarah Eksekutif,
SUARAM

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Press statement by SUARAM on the Launch of the 2016 SUARAM Human Rights Report on Malaysia

SUARAM launched its 2016 Human Rights Report Overview on the 6th June 2017 to call attention to the human rights violations in 2016 and the struggle that human rights advocates face in their fight for democracy and human rights in Malaysia. Despite growing pressure from human rights organizations and the international community, the gradual deterioration of rights continues unabated.

 

Over the course of the year, SUARAM found that the Malaysian government expanded its use of the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA), and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 (DDA) to detain individuals without trial. Prominent human rights defenders, such as Maria Chin Abdullah and Mandeep Singh of Bersih 2.0, were arrested for their role in organizing a peaceful protest and police brutality, the abuse of power by enforcement agencies and negligence resulted in the deaths of more than 300 prisoners who were in police custody, prison, or immigration detention.

 

Key highlights in 2016 include:

 

(1) The government continued to use the Sedition Act 1948, Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), and the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) to arrest, persecute, and prosecute citizens who spoke out against the government with arrests under CMA occurring on a weekly basis.

 

(2) The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 was used to detain citizens who planned, attended or spoke at peaceful protests. Human rights activists were called for questioning, regardless of the scale of the assembly. Notable incidents included the countless activists who were called in for statements during Bersih Convoy and Bersih 5, the representative of the organizing committee for the May Day celebration who was called for questioning, and the organizers of community protests who were arrested.

 

(3) SUARAM received reports about torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment from detainees. Notable cases included the case in Negeri Sembilan, the sexual assault by officers at Jinjang, the alleged physical abuse against Dato R. Sri Sanjeevan, and the solitary confinement and deprivation of basic necessities during Maria Chin’s detention.

 

(4) The growing arbitrary detention of individuals for organized crime under SOSMA and POCA and the ‘extension’ of detention through transfer between SOSMA and POCA which effectively grants the government upwards of 88 days of detention without trial continues into 2017.

 

In the light of these egregious human rights violations, SUARAM urges the government to take proactive steps to protect human rights in Malaysia as outlined in our Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Laws that fail to comply with international standards of human rights must be abolished immediately and victims persecuted under the Sedition Act, CMA, Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and others draconian laws must be discharged immediately! Failure to fulfil its human rights obligations will only damage Malaysia’s standing as a member of the international community and turn Malaysia’s bid to the Human Rights Council into a farce and further shame the country and its people.

 

In Solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM