Freedom of Expression is for All!

SUARAM regrets the disruption made by the Pro-ISA protesters at the Anti ISA Forum in Penang yesterday. The forum was organised by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) Penang in conjunction with 50 years of Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia since 1960.

SUARAM do respect freedom of expression and assembly by the Pro ISA protesters but SUARAM is also expecting a mutual understanding and respects from the Pro ISA protesters on the views and expression of the others. SUARAM believes that everyone in a democratic society should be given an opportunity to discuss any issues in a civil and proper manner and in respect.

We also learnt that, the forum moderator Rozaimin Elias was slapped by one of the protestors when he tried to prevent them from advancing onto the stage. The assault on Rozaimin is unnecessary and it could be avoided if the police took control on the situation. SUARAM condemn the violent act and regrets the non action on part of the police to control the situation.

SUARAM also would like to register its protest on a statement made by the Penang State police Chief Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob who has said the organisers did not apply for a police permit to hold the event.

We view the statement from the State Chief is irresponsible as the police is duty bound to protect the rights of all people in any circumstances. Datuk Wira’s statements exposes that his comments are merely to cover up the weaknesses of the police when they failed to control the situation. We wants to remind the Police Chief that, under the Article 10 of Federal Constitution everyone has rights express their views. We urged the police to play a neutral role rather than being biased towards the Pro ISA protesters.

SUARAM is of the view that the ISA is an Act which allows detention without trial as a serious violation of fundamental human rights and the draconian act must be repealed.

Released by,
Nalini.E
SUARAM Coordinator

Press Statement: 27 September 2010

Political Cartoonist Arrested: More Government Crackdowns to Limit Freedom of Expression

SUARAM condemns the arrest of cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (better known as Zunar), which points to the continuing trend of intimidation to curb freedom of expression in the country.

10 police officers from the Brickfields police station, led by ASP Arikrishnan Apparau, raided his office premises at 4pm on 24thSeptember and seized 66 copies of his latest book, Cartoon-o-phobia, which was due to be launched that night.

Zunar’s arrest under the Sedition Act and the banning of his previous 3 books – 1 Funny Malaysia, Perak Darul Kartun and Isu Dalam Kartun, appears to be the latest of the numerous examples of the government’s attempts to intimidate and selectively target certain public personalities to shrink the public space for free expression and discussion, and to silence voices of dissent.

Zunar’s critical stance towards the BN government in his books has made him a target for harassment and persecution by the government. As such, SUARAM denounces this arrest as yet another form of abuse of power by the police, which appears to be acting at the behest of the government in its ongoing attacks and intimidation on freedom of expression – a fundamental right which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

During the arrest, Zunar was moved to multiple police stations, starting from Brickfields, and finally ending up in Sepang. This ‘roadshow’ was unnecessary since he could’ve had his statement taken at Brickfields and released on police bail. His lawyer was also not given adequate notice for his remand hearing and the remand order was given without his lawyer being present. This is a clear abuse of power; a denial of Zunar’s right to justice; and a contravention of the legal process, where the judiciary is supposed to protect the rights of detainees.

SUARAM therefore strongly urges the government to immediately stop its harassment and persecution of those who exercise their constitutional right to hold and express views and opinions, including those critical of the government and its policies.

The clear violations of fundamental human rights in the government’s ongoing attacks on freedom of expression brings to question Malaysia’s commitment to the very basic and minimal human rights standards which are universally accepted and observed, let alone its obligations as a current elected member of the UN Human Rights Council.

Released by,

Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar

Coordinator

ISA DETAINEE MOHD FADZULLAH HAS BEEN SENT TO KAMUNTING UNDER A TWO YEAR DETENTION ORDER

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA

PRESS STATEMENT: 13 SEPTEMBER 2010

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) strongly condemn the two-year detention order of Mohamad Fadzullah Bin Abdul Razak made by the Home Minister. Fadzullah was transferred to Kamunting on 2nd September 2010 without the knowledge of his family and lawyers. His lawyers had already informed Bukit Aman on their representation on behalf of Fadzullah.

Fadzullah, 28, was arrested under the ISA on 15th July 2010. He is alleged to be involved in international terrorist networking. But these allegations have not been proved in any open court in Malaysia since the day he was detained under the ISA. In fact, we are doubtful that these allegations would even withstand the test of an open and independent trial.

The Executive order for a two year detention without trial is a gross travesty of justice. Fadzullah has been denied basic human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, namely the right to a fair trial, the right to defend oneself in an open and independent court, the right to legal counsel and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

We believe the invocation of Section 8 of the ISA for a two-year detention period was calculated to impede the lawyers’ effort to file a writ of habeas corpus to challenge Fadzullah initial detention under the Section 73(1) of the ISA. He has not given an opportunity to question his detention under the ISA. This is an old tactic and modus operandi has been used in many cases to ensure that any writ for habeas corpus will be deemed academic since the detainee has been detained under a different Section of the law and by a different arm of the executive government.

On a related development, GMI and SUARAM have been informed that Sheikh Abdullah Sheikh Junaidi (70), a Malaysian who was detained on 11th August, has been released from the detention on 25th of August. He had been arrested together with Mustawan Ahbab (34), an Indonesian, and Samsul Hamidi (34), a Malaysian; both of whom are still serving their 60 days detention under Section 73(1) of the ISA.

Although GMI and SUARAM welcome the release, we view this as yet another selective release and stand strongly with our principal value that no one should be detained under the ISA or any form of detention without trial laws.

Clearly, despite the recent appointment of Malaysia to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the pledge by the Malaysian government to promote and protect human rights vis a vie its plans to amend the ISA remains mere rhetoric and empty promises to the Malaysian Rakyat and the international community. The people of Malaysia are against the ISA, torture and other forms of human rights violations. We demand that the government abolish the ISA and put an end to violations of the fundamental rights of human beings!

Released by,
Nalini.E
GMI Secretariat and SUARAM Coordinator

SUHAKAM’s Positive Efforts Must Continue

SUARAM commends the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) for sending an official monitoring team to the Anti ISA candlelight vigil on 1 August 2010 at Padang Timur Dataran MBPJ, Petaling Jaya. This was in response to an earlier request by SUARAM and Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) to send a monitoring team for the vigil. The vigil was held to commemorate the passing of the Internal Security Act (ISA) 50 years ago and to call for the abolition of the ISA.

SUARAM notes that SUHAKAM Commissioners James Nayagam and Muhammad Sha’ani, accompanied by their five officers, were present before the vigil began and also at the Petaling Jaya police headquarters where those arrested were brought. They continued monitoring at the police station until the last person was released at approximately 4.50am.

This is indeed a positive step forward following SUHAKAM’s refusal to do the same exactly one year ago, in the massive anti-ISA rally in August 2009, which subsequently saw 589 individuals being arrested.

Such renewed efforts in SUHAKAM’s work is indeed welcomed and is especially timely in view of the continued occurrence of grave violations of human rights in the country. SUHAKAM’s latest effort is a glimpse of what the Human Rights Commission that Malaysia could and ought to do to fulfil its mandate as a credible national human rights institution and expected role as a public defender of human rights.

Notwithstanding this, SUARAM expresses concern over the government’s disregard of SUHAKAM’s previous recommendations. The arrests made during the anti-ISA candlelight vigil on 1 August 2010 were the latest of the many instances of the government’s refusal to comply with SUHAKAM’s numerous recommendations on peaceful assembly, including those contained in the Commission’s reports of its public inquiries on the cases of the Kesas Highway incident (2001), the “Bloody Sunday” incident in KLCC (2006), and the Bandar Mahkota Cheras incident (2008). In the report of the public inquiry into the “Bloody Sunday” incident, for example, SUHAKAM recommended that “peaceful assemblies should be allowed to proceed without a license”. However, through the excessive use of force by the police and FRU personnel in dispersing participants of the candlelight vigil and previous peaceful assemblies, it is evident that SUHAKAM’s repeated recommendations to the Government have fallen on deaf ears.

SUARAM thus strongly calls upon the police and the Malaysian Government to respect SUHAKAM’s decisions and actions following the Anti ISA vigil and to implement all recommendations made by SUHAKAM.

Encouraged by the positive efforts by SUHAKAM, SUARAM lastly urges the Commission to revisit all recommendations made to the government with increased vigour. SUHAKAM must ensure that its improved efforts in the protection and promotion of human rights do not end with this instance.

NATIONWIDE ANTI ISA RALLY IN CONJUCTION WITH 50 YEARS OF ISA: SUCCESS DESPITE OF POLICE BRUTALITY!

PRESS STATEMENT: 2 AUGUST 2010

NATIONWIDE ANTI ISA RALLY IN CONJUCTION WITH 50 YEARS OF ISA:  SUCCESS DESPITE OF POLICE BRUTALITY!

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) strongly condemns the abuse of police powers in cracking down on peaceful Anti ISA candlelight vigils held simultaneously at several states such as Selangor, Penang, Perak, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.

POLICE BRUTALITY – A NEVER ENDING STORY!

The nationwide Anti ISA vigil was organized by GMI and SUARAM to oppose the Internal Security Act (ISA) in conjunction with the 50th anniversary since the ISA was enacted on 1st of August 1960. In total, 38 participants were arrested during the Anti ISA vigil including GMI Chairperson, Syed Ibrahim, and SUARAM Coordinators Nalini Elumalai, Ong Jing Cheng, Kohila (Secretariat Member), Choo Chon Kai (Penang Branch Secretariat Member) and Arutchelvan (Director of SUARAM). Although this number is comparatively lower than the Anti ISA Rally last year when 589 people including minors were arrested; the 38 arrests by the police yesterday were unnecessary as it was a peaceful vigil.

The police in Petaling Jaya, Penang and Kelantan were far more brutal and arrogant compared to the other states. Although intimidation by the police occurred in other states, the real “champion” of the brutality was the Petaling Jaya Police Chief Arjunaidi Mohamed. Arjunaidi was arrogant and completely unprofessional when dealing with the crowd. He did not allow time for the crowd to disperse or to put it bluntly; he did not know the proper process to disperse a peaceful assembly. In addition, his police officers were brutal and violent when arresting participants. Although the Bar Council and SUHAKAM Commissioners were monitoring the situation at the vigil, the actions of the police proved that they had complete disregard for the basic human rights.

These arrests are a case of abuse of power by the government machineries and a failure to protect and uphold the fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution. We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this blatant transgression of the rule of law.

THE ISA SHOULD BE REPEALED WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

Facing widespread criticism both at home and abroad, the ISA has badly damaged Malaysia’s reputation and this lead the government to finally propose a review of the ISA. However, it is clear that they have no intention of relinquishing this formidable and invaluable crutch of power. They are going all out to sell the idea of amendment, rather than repeal. Considering the history of the ISA, it seems very likely that these amendments will be minor and merely cosmetic, and will not achieve anything in terms of removing its elements of injustice and violation of human rights.

In conjunction with 50 years of ISA, we challenge the Prime Minister Najib Razak to abolish the ISA immediately. SUARAM and GMI will never compromise on the issue of detention without trial. All Acts which allow or have resulted in oppression, torture and abuse of people should have no place in the statutes, and should be abolished without delay. We once again remind the government that we will not stay quiet until we witness the draconian ISA abolished!

Demands Reiterated

SUARAM strongly urges the government to repeal all detention-without- trial laws as these legislations severely violate fundamental human rights. SUARAM also reiterate several other longstanding demands to the government, including:

The immediate establishment of an independent and effective oversight monitoring body to ensure accountability in the police force such as the Independent Police Commission on Misconduct and Complaints (IPCMC) as recommended by the Royal Police Commission

SUARAM and GMI also would like to take this opportunity to thank all the brave Malaysians who turned up yesterday to support the call of the abolition of the ISA. In addition, we would like extend our gratitude to SUHAKAM and Bar Council Human Rights Committee for sending official monitoring teams and finally, to the lawyers from the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre for their roles in upholding Human Rights in Malaysia.

Salam Perjuangan.

Released by,

Nalini.E
SUARAM Coordinator and GMI Secretariat