Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is not impressed by the cosmetic touches put forward in the National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) launched by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Its biggest failure is its omission of the human rights violations of the government thus far and in so doing, fails to bring forth the urgent reform needed to improve human rights in Malaysia.
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 2 November 2016
Like Donald Trump in the US, ‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word for authoritarian populists to say. At least Dr Mahathir now admits and regrets that detainees under Operation Lalang were tortured. That is the first admission by the former Prime Minister and Home Minister that torture took place under his watch. By ‘torture’ he probably refers to physical torture that Joshua Jamaluddin, Irene Xavier and others were subjected to during Ops Lalang. Let me remind him that the International Red Cross considered our sixty days of solitary confinement as mental torture.
By this admission, Dr Mahathir must now be held accountable for the actions of the police who executed the tortures and so must the former IGP who has valiantly claimed that he was the one responsible for the detentions. Let me also remind them that Ops Lalang was not the only period when ISA detainees were tortured so there should really be a Royal Commission of Enquiry into all the cases of torture carried out under the various administrations using the ISA.
Torture Under The ISA: Pre-1987
Prior to the mass arrests of October 1987, human rights organisations and international missions including Amnesty International, had contended that the conditions under which detainees are held are deplorable; that long periods of interrogation are tantamount to mental torture and emotional deprivation. An International Panel of Lawyers who visited Malaysia in 1982 concluded in their report that:
“The cells lack the most basic of comforts, being of cement with no linen or furniture. They are badly lit and ventilated and are infested with insects, especially mosquitoes. The detainees, who are kept in solitary confinement, are deprived of any basic hygiene needs and are not allowed out of their cells except for interrogation.” (Report by the International Mission of Lawyers, 1983)
A 1982 Malaysian Bar Council Memorandum to the Government noted that detainees are “invariably held in solitary confinement which can have very serious psychiatric consequences”. The Bar Council added that detainees complained of round-the-clock interrogation, causing “severe mental and physical stress”.
The tortures undergone by ISA detainees during the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and Eighties are well known to those who know these former ISA detainees. Their experiences are slowly but surely coming to light, mainly in Chinese publications. I have highlighted before a hitherto unpublished statement by “political prisoners of Kawasan A, B, C”, dated 1 May 1969, a historic document released from Batu Gajah Detention Camp which we need not go into here. It reveals the bestiality that the torturers are capable of.
Torture during Operation Lalang: 1987
As a victim of the ISA under Operation Lalang from 1987 to 1989, I can vouch for the mental torture that we went through during the first sixty days. Such conditions are far worse than those accorded convicted criminals. Most oppressive of all is the terror of lawlessness under the hands of torturers who are not accountable to the public. Yeshua Jamaluddin was detained for being a Malay Christian convert. His affidavit at his Habeas Corpus hearing in October 1988 should be an eye-opener:
“I was not allowed to sleep for days at a stretch and was warned that I would not get any food if I did not cooperate. One Inspector Yusoff also threatened to disturb my girlfriend if I did not give any information. I was assaulted by Inspectors Yusoff, Zainuddin, Ayub and another officer on a number of occasions. On one occasion I was knocked to the ground and injured my back. Since then, I have been passing blood in my urine and have been suffering from pains in my lower back constantly…
“On another occasion during interrogation, Inspector Yusoff forced me to strip naked and to enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Inspector Yusoff also forced me to crawl on the floor in a naked state…”
“A police constable forced me to stand on one leg with both my arms outstretched holding my slippers. He made me remain in this position for two hours. He then called in a woman constable and her young daughter and asked them to look at me saying: “This Malay is not aware of who he is. He changed his religion. He has no shame!” ( Kua, K.S.,”445 Days Behind The Wire” 1999: 194)
Similar charges of physical torture under the hands of Special Branch personnel can be seen in the affidavits by Chow Chee Keong and Irene Xavier at their respective habeas Corpus applications.
Torture Under The ISA: Post-1987
The March 1989 seating of the Malaysian Parliament heard this shocking disclosure of torture inflicted on an ISA detainee, Abdul Rahman Hamzah, a former Sarawak State Assemblyman:
“I was tortured by various means…at any one time there were always three officers present but on one occasion, seven officers tortured me by kicking, punching, slapping and by hitting me with broom sticks. I lost consciousness a few times.
“I was asked to duck walk, frog jump, crawl all over the room, corridor and bathroom, urinate like a dog, given the air-condition treatment after a cold shower, forced to do hundreds of push-ups…
“A tin was used to cover my head and at the same time the tin was hit with a stick. The sound of the hitting of the tin deafened one’s hearing and cut and bruised my head, cheeks and ears. This caused my head and upper face to swell.
“My interrogators would sometimes lift my body by throttling my throat with their hands and at the same time forcing me up. When this was done, my throat protruded and saliva would come out of my mouth. At the same time I was being hit over the cheeks and jaw areas…They twisted my wrist and body round several times before swinging me violently against the wall. I was forced to do mock sexual acts before my sneering torturers who also used stretched elastic bands to flick at my ears and nipples…My head was pushed into a filthy squat toilet bowl while it was flushed repeatedly…I was also poked with a floor mop used for cleaning the toilet…”
Abdul Rahman and also other detainees have concurred that:
“The interrogators would appear to be possessed by the devil. When they interrogated me, their lips, hands and fingers would quiver. At times like this, I was frightened as I felt I was in the hands of people who had lost their reason.” (ibid)
Recent Torture Under The ISA
The brutality inflicted on the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim by the Inspector General of Police himself in 1998 has been well-publicised not only over the internet but also in the mainstream press. The IGP has admitted that much but while the victim of that brutality is languishing in jail, the torturer has been enjoying precious freedom all this time! And he, of all persons has the gall to say recently that we, “the Lalang had to be weeded out!”
The Royal Commission of Inquiry found Rahim Noor (IGP at the time) culpable in the beating of Anwar but no other members of the police were found to be complicit, despite the fact that several senior police officers were present in the room during the beating and they had not come forward with this evidence. The Prime Minister who was also then Home Minister was not found to be culpable by the Commission even though the police force is under the charge of the Home Minister.
In February 1999, Mior Abdul Razak bin Yahya released an affidavit stating that he was threatened and abused while in police custody in 1998, which resulted in him falsely confessing to having sexual relations with the former Deputy Prime Minister. Abdul Malek Hussein also filed police reports and released an affidavit stating that he was tortured physically, including being beaten unconscious and being forced to drink urine while he was detained under the ISA in 1998.
Dr Munawar Anees’ harrowing experience under the ISA can be seen in his 36-page statutory declaration which is available on the web (Search: Affidavit/Statutory Declaration of Dr.Munawar Anees). This is a cleaned up selection to show the depths of depravity and inhumanity of the Malaysian Special Branch:
“ By the end of the second day the long hours of interrogation, the lack of sleep, and the lack of decent food had left me completely disoriented and exhausted…Lying there curled up in that foetal position I could only replay in my mind what my captors had repeatedly drummed into me, the sex acts they asked me to act out, the vulnerable position I was in…
“ One of the four screamed at me to stand up. I did so. All four came from behind the table and surrounded me in a very aggressive manner as if they were about to assault me. One of them literally had his face in mine. They all screamed at me, in my ears, loudly, again and again and again that I had (had sexual intercourse) with Anwar. They screamed and screamed and screamed, in my ears, at my face, at me, again and again, over and over asking me to say ‘yes’ until I gave in and broke down saying yes, yes. They stopped screaming. That was what they wanted to hear. They were not interested that it was untrue.”
Dr M must now be accountable for the tortures
We call upon SUHAKAM to bring all these torturers to book and to hold the IGP, Home Minister and Prime Minister at the time responsible for these tortures that were carried out in the name of so-called ‘national security’. The National Human Rights Commission has sufficient evidence to start with. We demand a full inquiry that will not let off any torturer who has inflicted pain on any detainee. At the same time, we call upon all former political detainees to lodge a report of their detention with SUHAKAM so that our nation can know the full facts of this ISA reign of terror.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) amat kesal dengan tindakan Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM), IPD Klang Utara khususnya kerana telah menahan dan menyiksa seorang remaja bawah umur (Ang Kian Kok , No IC:010126-10-0787, Tarikh Lahir: 26 Januari 2001) di bawah Akta Pencegahan Jenayah (POCA) pada 13 September 2017 lalu. Ang, yang tidak mempunyai sebarang rekod jenayah lampau telah di reman selama 60 hari di bawah akta yang di peruntukkan bagi penjenayah tegar, sehingga 10 November 2017.
Penahanan Ang bermula pada Pada 6 Februari 2017 lalu, di mana dia telah ditahan bersama Balamurugan dan beberapa yang lain oleh pegawai polis dari IPD Klang Utara bagi siasatan kes samun kereta. Di dalam tahanan IPD Klang Utara mereka telah mengalami seksaan dan Balamurugan dilaporkan telah dipukul dengan teruk dan terpaksa dipapah semasa mengambil reman di Mahkamah Klang pada 7 Februari. Walaupun Majistret telah memberikan arahan bagi memberi rawatan kepada Balamurugan, pihak polis telah mengingkari arahan ini dan akhirnya menyebabkan Balamurugan meninggal dunia dalam tahanan.
Ang Kian Kok menyaksikan penyeksaan yang berlaku ke atas Balamurugan semasa dalam tahanan, di mana beliau juga turut sama di dera; pegawai polis telah menumbuk dan menendang beliau semasa sesi soal siasat. Individu lain yang ditahan bersama Ang mendakwa mereka digantung secara terbalik dan dipukul dengan batang buluh dan hos paip. Selepas kematian Balamurugan, kesemua mereka telah di reman secara berantai selama 19 hari berturut-turut bermula 7 Februari 2017 sehingga 25 Februari. Susulan penahanan; seksaan dan reman berantai, ancaman dan gangguan masih lagi tidak berakhir dan masih berterusan oleh pihak polis IPD Klang Utara. Mereka telah mengganggu dengan kerap kali datang ke rumah keluarga Ang dan mengugut untuk menangkap semula dan pelbagai lagi gangguan. Ia berterusan sehinggalah Ang ditahan di bawah POCA pada 13 September lalu.
Tekanan dan gangguan kepada Ang turut di rasai oleh keluarga yang turut sama terseksa dengan tindakan polis. Ibu bapa Ang yang masing-masing bekerja dengan pendapatan tidak menentu, perlu menampung 4 orang anak yang masih bersekolah. Ang Kian Kok yang telah berhenti dari persekolahan sejak tingkatan 2 untuk membantu keluarga, tidak lagi dapat bekerja dan pendapatan keluarga mereka sangat terjejas. Kini, adik Ang yang berumur 15 tahun perlu turut bekerja bagi menampung keperluan keluarga. SUARAM ingin menuntut agar Ang Kian Kok dibebaskan daripada POCA dan diberi peluang untuk menjalani kahidupan seperti remaja lain, dan bukannya di dalam sistem yang diperntukkan untuk penjenayah tegar.
For Immediate Release
10 December 2016
Human Rights Day in Troubled Times
Human Rights Day that falls on the 10th December 2016 is supposed to be a day of celebration where people from around the world celebrate human rights. While the spirit of solidarity and hope remains strong within and without Malaysia, the situation pertaining to human rights in Malaysia have brought morale of all Malaysians to a new low.
Detention without Trial
The detention of Maria Chin Abdullah, Siti Noor Aishah, Azmi Nur Jalani, R. Sri Sanjeevan and many others made it clear that the spectre of Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) has not left Malaysia. While ISA has been repealed for years, the mannerism where detention without trial is a ‘must have’ tool adopted by the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Government has not changed. Draconian laws that were supposedly meant for counter-terrorism efforts have been and will continue to be abused by those in power for their benefit.
The Deputy Prime Minister himself has unabashedly informed the Malaysian people that 37 individuals from the Immigration Department of Malaysia were detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. Of the 37 detained, only 4 had a chance to stand trial in court while 33 of them were subsequently rearrested and detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959. Dozens remain in custody till this day. Such practice does not protect Malaysian from further criminal acts and violence. Such practices only serve to hide the hidden hands that have had a role in these injustices and penalize the innocents.
Torture in Detention
The Deputy Minister for Home Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police continues with the perverse defence that the treatment received by Maria Chin Abdullah was no different from the treatment received by any other detainees as the Royal Malaysian Police only acted in line with their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Perhaps the good minister and the well learned police chief wilfully chose to forget that compliance does not absolve the government of the crime of committing torture.
The claims that it the treatment experienced by Maria Chin Abdullah fully complied with SOP only serve as an evidence that torture is not an exception to the norm. The consistent statement and claims put forward by both the Minister and the Inspector-General of Police only proves and substantiate the past allegations that torture is systematically used against those detained under SOSMA and POCA.
Persecution of Student Activists
The disciplinary proceeding against student activists Anis Syafiqah, Luqman Nul Haqim, Luqman Hakim and Suhail Wan Azahar was heard on the eve of Human Rights Day. Their defence was swept aside and they were all found ‘guilty’ for jeopardizing University Malaya’s reputation, for organizing a rally and for causing public unrest and damage to public property.
The unfounded and malicious charges against the University Malaya 4 is only exacerbated by the unprofessional manner in which the disciplinary board heard the disciplinary proceeding. The notion of fair trial and natural justice was nowhere to be found with the allegations put forward against the students being altered and changed at a whim. The embarrassing display by University of Malaya only render themselves guilty of jeopardizing the reputation of the University and position the University as a key player of human rights violations against student and youth.
Indigenous Peoples Rights
Despite long year of campaign and small victories along the way, violation of indigenous peoples’ rights continues with absolute impunity. The communities’ fight for survival and human rights was not met with understanding and acceptance but challenged with violence and threats by the Federal and State government.
The government’s insistence on allowing the logging operation to continue with no plans for remedy would only set the indigenous community on the path to extinction. With such callous response, it is inevitable that our indigenous friends would gradually lose their homes, their livelihood and eventually their heritage and identity. Such loss would only be made worse with Malaysia losing its last few vestige of natural heritage with the culling of the forest.
Freedom of Expression and Assembly
Reflecting on the long year of repression, the first right that was silenced in this campaign of repression was our right to express ourselves and assemble peacefully. Persecution of vocal critics to the arrest and detention of individuals expressing their concern for human rights and democracy threatened to destroy the small democratic space we have left.
Imposing fine is no longer satisfactory. Only prison sentence seems to be enough the quell the Government of Malaysia’s need for retribution against those who were perceived as enemy of the state. Unfortunately, even the prosecution and punishment of critics in public space is no longer enough. The ire of the government now turns to every day Malaysian who voice their discontent and worries online. What freedom do Malaysians’ have when a Facebook comment can now put us in shackles?
The Fight Continues
In these troubled times, Malaysians need to remember that the night is the darkest hour is just before dawn. The fight for human rights and better Malaysia cannot be stopped and will only continue to grow. All Malaysians can do and all we can do is to stand together in solidarity with our friends in need and continue to march on against repression.
SUARAM reiterate our dedication to the human rights cause of Malaysia and call on all Malaysian to stand together in our fight for human rights and democracy. SUARAM also calls upon the Malaysian government to re-examine its callous stance on human rights and adopt policies that genuinely cares for Malaysians’ welfare. Failure to do so would only doom us all for all of us have no other home but Malaysia.
For Immediate Release
13 July 2016
SUARAM is surprised by Deputy Home Minister, Nur Jazlan’s views suggesting that Malaysia adopts a ‘soft’ legal approach in addressing the issue of terrorism and shocked by his belief that torture has not been used against alleged terror suspects in Malaysia.
SUARAM has documented countless cases and incidents where torture was used as the primary means to extract a confession or to coerce a false confession from suspects that were arrested on suspicion of committing an offence. The practice of violence also extends to alleged terror suspects and such incidents have been thoroughly documented and reported by SUARAM throughout the years. The families of the victims of torture has also filed their respective report to SUHAKAM and other relevant agencies for investigations.
Further, contrary to the view that Malaysia’s law on terrorism is soft, the provision that enables detention without trial such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Prevention of Crime Act 1959 and Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 makes it abundantly clear that our laws are not ‘soft’ as described. The application of different type of ‘preventive’ laws on a suspect for the same offence makes the existing laws that are already uncompromising no better than the practices of Guantanamo Bay.
The minister’s ignorance on these issues and the inability to understand the concept of ‘soft’ legal approach against terrorism would suggests that the minister would require further sensitization on the issues under his portfolio. Failure to be up-to-date on these crucial issue may very well put the safety and security of Malaysia in jeopardy.