Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim marks three years in arbitrary detention

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization in Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Kuala Lumpur, Paris, 9 February 2018: FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemn former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s ongoing arbitrary detention and reiterate their calls for his release, one day ahead of the three-year anniversary of his imprisonment.

“The fact that Anwar is still in jail after three years speaks volumes about Prime Minister Najib’s desperate attempt to keep Anwar away from the political scene. Anwar must be immediately released and his political rights should be fully reinstated,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State, and is due to be released on 8 June 2018. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the upcoming 2018 general election, (scheduled to be held by August 2018) unless he is granted a pardon by the King and is elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in a by-election prior to the general election.

“Anwar’s unjust conviction and imprisonment has denied him his right to contest the 2018 general election. It’s time for the government to right this wrong and immediately free Anwar,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

In an opinion issued on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

Background

Anwar has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015. On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Federal Court on 17 April 2018.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: + 60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

NEVER LOSE YOUR DIGNITY ANWAR!

NEVER LOSE YOUR DIGNITY ANWAR!
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 13 Sept 2016

Politicians tend to speak and act out of the bubble they have built around themselves as they pounce on political opportunities that present themselves. It can take their loved ones to see through all that falsehood and hypocrisy. Thus, Anwar’s daughter Nurul Nuha Anwar must be congratulated for demanding that Dr Mahathir Mohamad publicly apologises to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and admit his past transgressions against the opposition leader before he can hope to forge any alliance with Anwar’s coalition. Nurul Nuha said that Dr Mahathir must first own up to the “trumped-up” sodomy and corruption charges against Anwar back in 1998. Bravo!

This is the first thought that comes to the mind of anyone who cares about justice and dignity in this country. And yet, how many politicians in Pakatan Harapan and Civil Society leaders, with the exception of Saari Sungib, have demanded that of Mahathir ever since he headed the “Save Malaysia” Declaration in March 2016?

Sorry is all that you can say, Mahathir

After Mahathir’s attendance in court on September 5 for a case involving Anwar and their token handshake, PH and Parti Pribumi politicians have been falling about themselves hailing this as a historic compromise which spells good times ahead for the Anti-Najib Coalition.

The fact remains that to date, Mahathir has strenuously refused to apologise to Anwar or retract his scurrilous defamation of Anwar’s character since 1998. In September 2005 at a press conference after a human rights conference, the former Prime Minister was quoted as saying: “I cannot have a sodomiser in my Cabinet. Imagine a gay PM – nobody will be safe.”

On 24 Sep 2005, Anwar demanded an apology and damages totaling $26.7 million from former Prime Minister for those scurrilous comments. Mahathir had reiterated his assertion that he’d fired Anwar as his deputy in 1998 because Anwar’s alleged sexual orientation made him unfit for office.

Then, despite the generous gestures shown toward Mahathir by his former detractors, including Anwar after the ‘Save Malaysia’ caper in March 2016, Mahathir has not displayed any remorse for his past record and instead, repeated his defamatory attacks on Anwar’s character when he appeared on Australian TV soon after the ‘Save Malaysia’ Declaration.

Anwar’s letter from prison in June 2016 showed that he was hurt when this “humiliation, sadly did not elicit any response from my trusted colleagues…It’s baffling to note that after working with Pakatan Harapan civil society and my trusted colleagues, he continued to pour scorn and venom against me!”

Thus, if these Pakatan leaders could be forgiven for their “audacious naivete” in working with Mahathir, there was no excuse for their continued alliance with the latter AFTER he repeated his prejudiced comments against Anwar. As to who is calling the shots in the Anti-Najib Coalition, this terse admonition by the Pakatan de facto leader in his letter from prison said it all:

“But I resent the insensitivity in pressuring the president and in particular Nurul Izzah to pay respects to Tun M or attend his functions. You may want to appease him, but to demand such a sacrifice from my family, particularly after the recent scorn is the unkindest cut of all!”

No excuse for being unprincipled

Defence of their de facto Pakatan leader is only part of the equation; even more serious is the abandonment of their principles regarding Anwar’s conviction by the state. Throughout Anwar’s sodomy trials, the Pakatan leaders had maintained that he was a “victim of political conspiracy and fabricated evidence”. When he was sent to jail for the second time, senior opposition parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang said: “It’s a day of infamy. It’s a shocking decision.” The PKR deputy president Azmin Ali labelled Anwar’s jail term “perverse”, an “injustice” and an “absolute disgrace”, while former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenavasan likewise slammed the political conspiracy against Anwar.

Hence by not condemning Mahathir for repeating his scurrilous attacks on Anwar’s character even AFTER the formation of the Anti-Najib Coalition, it exposes the Pakatan leaders’ inconsistent stand on Anwar’s innocence in his political trial.

Who’s sorry now?

The Pakatan leaders can learn a lesson in political consistency, morality and human dignity from Anwar’s daughter today. They should demand an apology from the man who initiated the prosecution of Anwar in the first place when he was Prime Minister. Mahathir should be asked to forthwith withdraw his scurrilous attacks on Anwar. Failure to do so should result in him being booted out of the Anti-Najib Coalition.

And when Mahathir has apologized to Anwar, he can start apologizing to me and the others he incarcerated under Operation Lalang; to Tun Salleh Abas and the other Supreme Court judges he sacked in 1988; and to all Malaysians for the more than 100 billion ringgit he squandered during his term in office.

Real Reformasi!

The reform movement should then be redefined to target not just an individual but the political regime and political economic system that oppresses, divides and exploits the people.  The aim would not only be to call for Najib’s resignation but to change the racist and exploitative regime. Furthermore, reforms should target the neoliberal economic policies that were set in motion by none other than Mahathir in the early Eighties.

Najib has merely made more extreme the structures created by Mahathir to entrench the powers of the Executive, emasculate the democratic institutions and provide the means for private enrichment of the elite in this country. Racist and racial discriminatory policies were also entrenched by Mahathir in the early Eighties and further manipulated by Najib until today.

Firmly stick to your dignity and integrity, Anwar!

Even as you endure the cruelty of the oppressive regime, Anwar, listen not to the forked tongues of your “trusted colleagues” but hark the wise admonition that emanates from the mouth of your daughter Nurul Nuha. Her demand for an apology from Mahathir is backed up by this advice by the great Aristotle:

“The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.”

1 Year of Arbitrary Detention of Anwar Ibrahim

For Immediate Release
10 February 2016

1 Year of Arbitrary Detention of Anwar Ibrahim

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemns the continued detention of Anwar Ibrahim and call for his immediate and unconditional release.

The arrest and detention of Anwar Ibrahim have been condemned globally by all quarters for a myriad of reasons that threaten to undermine the legal institution and human rights in Malaysia. The Government of Malaysia cannot in good conscience remain apathetic and deny all responsibility for the arrest and detention of Anwar Ibrahim.

The manner in which state control media have publicized and spin the case against Anwar Ibrahim and the Judiciary’s decision to accept evidence that have been tempered with in manners non-compliant with recognized standard operating procedures have cast a shadow of doubt in the legitimacy of the case against Anwar Ibrahim and reaffirmed the sentiment that his case was politically motivated and that the whole prosecution and detention was designed to weaken the opposition coalition in Malaysia.

The conclusion drawn by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) in November 2015 in regards to the arrest and detention of Anwar Ibrahim clearly affirms this sentiment. Despite the conclusion by UNWGAD, the Government of Malaysia have wilfully chose to deny the findings and refused to take actions to address the injustice done against Anwar Ibrahim.

The callous manner in which the Government of Malaysia have responded to the finding by UNWGAD can only be interpreted as an act of denial and an effort to maintain the Government of Malaysia’s façade of compliance with international human rights norms and principles.

Once again, SUARAM reiterate its strongest condemnation for the arrest, prosecution and detention of Anwar Ibrahim and call for his immediate and unconditional release.

In solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Malaysia: Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim must be freed

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization for Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Malaysia: Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim must be freed

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 10 December 2015: Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and allow him to receive proper medical attention, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today on the 10-month anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“The ongoing detention of Anwar Ibrahim is the tip of the iceberg of the government’s ongoing crackdown against political opponents and critics. Anwar’s immediate and unconditional released would be a positive first step towards addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

On 10 February 2015, the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ conviction of Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. Anwar’s Imprisonment was the result of a politically motivated prosecution that resulted in criminal proceedings that failed to meet international standards of fair trial. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals’ and Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial.

On 21 October 2015, in a decision on Malaysia issued at its 197th session, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said it feared that Anwar’s conviction “may be based on considerations other than legal.”

In an opinion issued at its 73rd session on 1 September 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated. In addition, the UNWGAD’s opinion considered that Anwar’s treatment during his detention “may have violated the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 5 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].”

The former opposition leader has faced difficulties receiving proper medical attention in Sungai Buloh prison. Anwar’s supervising doctor in the prison, appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has repeatedly denied him access to recommended regular and intensive physiotherapy for a serious shoulder injury, which has worsened since his detention. The denial of adequate medical care runs counter to international norms. Article 22(2) of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that “sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.”

Anwar also suffers from chronic arthritis, gastritis, irregular blood pressure, intestinal bleeding, and has a growth on his kidney. His prison doctor has denied him timely access to doctors of his choice and necessary medical testing.

Since early September, prison authorities have restricted Anwar’s access to his lawyers to one hour per week, despite the fact that he is involved in at least 16 ongoing court cases as plaintiff or defendant. This restriction is a breach of his fundamental rights guaranteed under Malaysian law and the Malaysian Constitution, and is against international standards. Principle 18 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that an imprisoned person “shall be allowed adequate time” for consultation with his legal counsel.

In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs has denied several foreign embassies and organizations prison visits to Anwar. On 5 November 2015, Malaysia’s Prison Affairs Division, under the Ministry of Home Affairs Ministry, rejected a request to visit Anwar made by FIDH three days earlier. No explanation was given for the denial of the visit.

“The persecution of Anwar Ibrahim did not end with his conviction ten months ago – it is continuing behind bars. It’s time for the authorities to immediately put an end all acts of harassment against him,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

FIDH and SUARAM demand Malaysian authorities guarantee Anwar his prisoner rights, including the rights to receive adequate medical care and access to a legal counsel, in accordance with relevant international standards.

Press contacts

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) – Tel: +33672284294 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy – Tel: +60377843525