Urgent Resolution on the Ongoing Crackdown by the Malaysian Government Against Malaysians

 

 

URGENT RESOLUTION  ON THE ON-GOING CRACKDOWN BY THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT AGAINST MALAYSIANS

 

The urgent resolution was adopted and passed on 26 May 2013 at FIDH 38th Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

The 178 members leagues of FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) condemn the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and ordinary members of the public in Malaysia that began on 18 May 2013 and has escalated just as FIDH is holding its 38th Congress in Istanbul. This crackdown is apparently aimed at stamping out opposition to election fraud and violence during the recent general election. The crackdown it has so far, featured murder, violence, arbitrary arrests, hate speech, disruption of peaceful assemblies and censorship on media targeting human rights defenders and opposition leaders, as well as selective deployment of laws that contravene international human rights standards.

 

Background

Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (“GE13”) concluded on 5th May 2013. Arguably the most intense election in Malaysian history, the election period saw heightened political violence namely bomb blasts at campaign sites, a murder of an Opposition campaigner and various forms of harassment of human rights defenders and opposition leaders.

 

The outcome of the GE13 was marred with electoral fraud, phantom voters, irregularities of the electoral roll and the indelible ink which was not indelible. FIDH notes that opposition parties are in the midst of filing 27 Election Petitions to the High Court challenging the results and paving way for by-elections in the constituents and affected seats. This challenge is taking place in tandem with public denunciations of the Election Commission’s (“EC”) for its contradictory responses to legitimate complaints of vote rigging which comprised both blanket denials AND mild promises to investigate complaints.

 

The crackdown on legitimate dissent

The authorities have used repressive legislations namely the Sedition Act 1948, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Penal Code and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as tools to suppress legitimate dissent of voters, human rights defenders, and leaders of the Opposition while government-friendly individuals remain unscathed despite their racist and seditious statements.

 

Sedition Act 1948

The Sedition Act 1948 was invoked against a student activist, Adam Adli, 24 for having allegedly uttered seditious words under Section 4(1) (b) of the Act on 23rd May 2013. On 23/5/2013, social movementAnything But UMNO’s Haris Ibrahim, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (“PKR”) MP for Batu, Chua Tian Chang and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s (“PAS”) MP for Batu Berendam, Tamrin Ghafar were arrested under the Sedition Act 1948 for alleged breach of the Act.

 

Peaceful Assemby Act 2012

On 14/5/2013,  PKR’s Seri Setia Assemblyperson Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and PKR’s MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli were questioned by the police under the unconstitutional Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 under Section 9(1) for failing to provide a 10-day notice required under the Act. Nik Nazmi was charged under the Act on 17/5/2013.

 

Penal Code

On 22/5/2012, 18 individuals who attended a nightly candle light vigil for Adam Adli were arrested for allegedly violating Section 143 of the Penal Code for participation in an illegal assembly. The police had denied the arrested persons’ right to legal counsel provided for under the S28A of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution. After a lengthy protest by the lawyers, they were only allowed to provide legal advice to their clients. However, they were not allowed to represent their clients during police questioning.

 

Democratic Action Party’s (“DAP”) MP for Serdang, Ong Kian Meng was subjected to questioning under Section 505 of the Penal Code for allegedly uttering statements tantamount to public mischief. Even DAP’s adviser and founding member, Dr Chen Man Hin was investigated over an email sent in 2012 which had been alleged to be linked to the Malaysia’s version of “Arab Spring”.

 

Violence from pro-Barisan Nasional groups

Violence erupted in Penang on at least two occasions. On 9th May 2013, a group of multiracial students intending to hand over an anti-racism memorandum was attacked by a group of racist mobs hurling racist and derogatory remarks to them. Similarly, supporters who had held a candle light vigil for Adam Adli were physically attacked by an unknown group of mobs who had informed the police and falsely accused the supporters for possessing weapons including hand guns. On 22nd May, SUARAM Penang’s Sean Ho and student group DEMA’s Saw Jia Ying were hit by motorcycles after being chased by the bike gang for some distance. Many supporters suffered bodily injuries.

 

Seditious statements

Seditious statements from public officials continue to be tolerated by the government. On 12/5/2013, former Court of Appeal Judge Mohd Noor Abdullah (now a commissioner for the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission) had warned that the Chinese Malaysians must be prepared for a backlash from the Malay community for their betrayal in the recently concluded GE13. He had made the seditious statements in an event organised by UiTM Malaysia’s Alumni Association and Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung(The Coalition of Peninsular Malay Students), titled “GE13 Post-Mortem Muslim Leadership and Survival”.

 

He stated, “…The Chinese betrayal towards the Malay’s hand of friendship – that is true. Because they plotted to seize political power even though they already have economic power… for the Malays, the taboo is to be betrayed, because when they are betrayed, they will react and when they react, their dendam kesumat tidak tersudah-sudah (wrath will be endless)…When Malays are betrayed, there is a backlash and the Chinese must bear the consequences of a Malay backlash…”

 

He had reportedly suggested that key sectors such as education, civil service and businesses must have a two third allocation (67%) for the Malays to be taken up at any time. He added that the terms “Chinese” and “Indian” should be replaced with Non-Malays as they are just our (Malay) neighbours and they had just come to stay ( i.e they are not really Malaysian). The silence and inactions from the government against the former judge were unacceptable as the statements were clearly racist and seditious. The approach was clearly different than those undertaken by the police against Adam Adli, Haris Ibrahim, Chua Tian Chang and Tamrin Ghafar.

 

 

Censorship and Seizing of Publications

Thousands of copies of PAS’ Harakah, PKR’s Suara Keadilan and DAP’s The Rocket were seized in several States. Officers from the Home Ministry had not only seized the publications but also raided the vendors’ stalls. In a statement by the Home Minister, he had alleged that the Opposition’s publications had violated Section 5 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 namely for distribution to non-party members. The publications were never subjected to such condition in the past and the recent revelation from the Home Minister appears to be another attempt to restrict freedom of information. In contrast to Utusan Malaysia’s seditious 7/5/2013 front page article titled “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?” (What else do the Chinese want?) and Prime Minister Najib’s comments which had likened the outcome of the election to a “Chinese Tsunami” (that together implied that the country was hostage to unreasonable demands of the ethnic Chinese) , the newspaper was not seized or banned. To date, neither Utusan Malaysia nor Prime Minister Najib have apologised and retracted their statements.

 

 

Actions requested:

 

We therefore urge the Malaysian authorities to perform the following:-

 

1.                  To abolish the Sedition Act 1948 and drop all charges against Adam Adli and immediately release Chua Tian Chang, Haris Ibrahim and Tamrin Ghafar;

 

2.                  To Abolish the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and drop all charges against Nik Nazmi and end all investigations against individuals alleged to have violated the Act;

 

3.                  To immediately cease invoking repressive legislations to suppress legitimate dissent;

 

4.                  To promote and protect the fundamental rights of individuals and associates to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

 

5.                  To promote and protect every individual’s right to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

 

6.                  To promote and encourage respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, religion, sex or national origin;

 

7.                  To consider that all human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law against any discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination;

 

8.                  To acknowledge that discrimination between races is an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations capable of disturbing peace and security among the people and that racial barriers is repugnant to the ideals of any human society;

 

9.                  To speedily eliminate racial discrimination in all its form and manifestations in order to promote a society free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination;

 

10.              To comply and uphold the fundamental freedoms enshrined under the Federal Constitution; and

 

11.              To comply and uphold the provisions in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders[1] in particular Articles 5, 6, 9, 10, 11,18 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in particular Articles 2(1)(a)[2], 2(1)(b)[3] and 4(c)[4].

 

12.              To the UN due to review of UPR  Malaysia in October 2013- To continue to grant particular attention to the protection of human rights in Malaysia in accordance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders and follow up on the implementation on the recommendations issued to Malaysia in its Universal Periodic Review in 2009.


[2] To undertake to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national or local, shall act in conformity with this obligation

[3] To undertake not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by persons or organisations

[4] Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination

Malaysia: Drop Charges against Activists and Organisers of Post-Elections Rallies, End Crackdown on Freedoms of Expression and Peaceful Assembly

 

 

Malaysia: Drop Charges against Activists and Organisers of Post-Elections Rallies, End Crackdown on Freedoms of Expression and Peaceful Assembly

 

(Bangkok, 28 May 2013): The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) has condemned the charges filed against a number of activists and opposition leaders in Malaysia in relation to their exercise of freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly in the past two weeks. The regional human rights group, representing 47 organisations from 16 countries across Asia, deplored what it called a post-elections crackdown on dissent by the government in the wake of allegations of electoral irregularities in the recently-concluded general elections in the country. The regional group charged that the country’s Prime Minister has reneged on his promises of greater respect for human rights since assuming power in 2009.

 

On 17 May 2013, a leader of the opposition People’s Justice Party and Selangor state assemblyperson Nik Nazmi was charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for allegedly having failed to serve the police with sufficient notice for an Opposition-led rally at the Kelana Jaya Stadium on 8 May 2013 to protest against alleged electoral irregularities during recent general elections. Six other opposition leaders were subsequently charged under the same law for organising similar rallies in different locations throughout the country.

 

On 18 May 2013, student leader Adam Adli was arrested and subsequently charged under the Sedition Act on 23 May 2013, for allegedly uttering a seditious statement during a public forum, where he called for street protests against the government. A candlelight vigil that was held on 22 May 2013 to call for the release of Adam Adli resulted in 18 participants being arrested and questioned by the police. Then, on 23 May 2013, opposition leaders and activists – Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, and Haris Ibrahim – were arrested under the Sedition Act, a law which the Prime Minister promised to abolish in 2012.

 

FORUM-ASIA recently, on 8 May 2013, wrote an open letter to Malaysia’s Prime Minister,[1] urging the government to allow peaceful dissent in all forms beyond the holding of elections, in light of a warning that was made by the Inspector-General of Police that participants of a proposed rally on 8 May would be arrested. While the rally on 8 May subsequently proceeded peacefully without any arrests or police intervention, the government went on to charge the organiser of the said rally, together with six others for organising similar rallies in other parts of the country.

 

“We regret the charges against the organisers for having allegedly failed to serve the police with sufficient notice for the post-elections rallies. The rallies have proceeded peacefully, and these charges appear to be only aimed at silencing political opposition and discouraging the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in the country,” said Giyoun Kim, FORUM-ASIA’s Acting Executive Director.

 

Pointing out that the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, has in both his previous[2] and upcoming reports[3] to the UN Human Rights Council expressed his concern over the restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Malaysia, including the flaws in Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, FORUM-ASIA urged the government to drop all charges against organisers of recent post-elections rallies. “Continuing to pursue the charges against rally organisers under the Peaceful Assembly Act will only renew and heighten international criticism on Malaysia in this regard,” added Giyoun Kim.

 

FORUM-ASIA further expressed alarm over recent statements made by the Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi, who has warned that protestors will “pay a heavy price” if protests and rallies are to continue, and by the Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohmad Salleh, who has said that the police “can no longer tolerate” candlelight vigils.

 

“These statements are a blatant disregard for international human rights standards, and this is particularly appalling considering that Malaysia is a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The government must recognise that it has the duty to protect human rights, and therefore must enable and facilitate peaceful assemblies, instead of restricting them,” said Nalini Elumalai, Executive Director of SUARAM, a member of FORUM-ASIA in Malaysia.

 

The regional human rights group also called for the charges against Adam Adli under the Sedition Act to be dropped. If found guilty, Adam Adli could face a jail term of up to three years, fined up to MYR5,000 (approx. USD1,800), or both.

 

“The charge against Adam Adli under the Sedition Act is highly problematic and deplorable. The Sedition Act is a law that severely restricts freedom of expression, and the international community has repeatedly called for its repeal in the past. We remind the Prime Minister that he had publicly announced in 2012 that the Sedition Act will be repealed,” stressed Giyoun Kim.

 

“The Malaysian government must recognise that its international legitimacy as a self-proclaimed democratic government is already in jeopardy, and given that the international community is keenly watching the developments in Malaysia, it will only be in the interest of the government to end its crackdown on dissent and opposition, and drop all charges in relation to the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” added Giyoun Kim.

 

For inquiries, please contact:

 

·         John Liu, East Asia Programme Officer, +66802828610 or [email protected]

·         Joses Kuan, East Asia Programme Associate, +66835445166 or [email protected]

 

Peaceful Vigil Turns Ugly- Police arrested 18

 

Press Statement: 23rd May, 2012

 

Peaceful Vigil Turns Ugly- Police arrested 18

 

SUARAM records its strongest condemnation against the unlawful arrests of 18 individuals who stood in solidarity with Adam Adli in a candle light vigil outside Jinjang Remand Centre on the 22 May 2013. The demonstration of the State’s power and might with such vigor in the Adam Adli saga was clear it defied logic and reasons.

 

We believe the whole process of 5 days remand on Adam Adli is mala fide as the audio and video recordings of his speech as evidence is easily available on Internet. Why there was a need to remand this young activist for further 5 days in the name of investigation?

 

The quick response to arrest coupled with the sudden and convenient shift in investigations raised substantial conviction that the persecution was orchestrated to instil fear in legitimate dissenters. Staunch supporters gathered in solidarity on a nightly basis for Adam Adli since 18/5/2012. The crowd grew larger by the day and on 22/5/2012, with about 1,000 supporters, the police moved in and arrested 18 individuals, of whom 4 were women.

 

SUARAM denounces the arbitrary arrests made by the police in the guise of the unconstitutional Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. In this political motivated show of might, several detainees were physically assaulted by the police before being arrested. None of the detainees were allowed to exercise their fundamental right to counsel provided for under S28A of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution.

 

Lawyers representing the detainees were unlawfully restricted and confined at the check-in gate and were not allowed to perform their duties to represent and provide advice to their clients. They were only allowed to meet their clients after a lengthy protest. The actions and/or inaction of the police amount to a wilful and unlawful obstruction of justice and fundamental rights of the detainees.

 

At around 2 o’clock in the early morning, all the detainees were released after their statements were taken, without the presence of their lawyers. SUARAM strongly condemns such deliberation to unlawfully detain the protesters according to the whims and fancies of top officials and questions the grounds of the arrests and detention of the peaceful supporters.

 

SUARAM denounces the State’s abusive display of power and might using the police and oppressive legislation. These forms of intimidation and harassment are highly unwarranted and oppressive. The victimization of peaceful dissenters grounded on the insecurities of the State is highly unacceptable and abominable.

 

Released by,

Thevarajan

Right to Justice

Dharmendran, Another Victim of Police Brutality

 

 

DHARMENDRAN, ANOTHER VICTIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY

 

SUARAM strongly condemns the police for causing the death of N. Dharmendran, on 21/5/2012. Dharmendran, 31, had on or about 11/5/2012 lodged a police report at Pudu Police Station in relation to a fight where he was reportedly alleged to be involved in. Subsequently, the deceased was arrested, detained and was remanded pending police investigation.

 

According to his widow, she was waiting for the deceased to be released on bail on 21/5/2012 but instead, she received a phone call from the police informing her of her husband’s death. It was reported that the post mortem would be conducted by Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s pathologist Dr Siew Sheue Feng who had in the past performed examination on alleged sodomy victim Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

 

SUARAM is gravely concerned on the injury marks on Dharmendran’s body and demands immediate response to the following:-

 

1.      Why were there staples on the deceased’s ears?;

2.      Who inflicted the bruises all over the deceased body?;

3.      What were the grounds considered by the Magistrate in allowing the police’s application for remand?; and

4.      The status of investigation on Dharmendran at the time of the application for remand and subsequently bail.

 

SUARAM demands IGP Khalid Abu Bakar and Home Minister Zahid Hamidi to take responsibility over the death and announce to the public on when and what actions will be taken against the officers in charge of Dharmendran. SUARAM expects nothing short of transparency and independence of the police and the Home Ministry in this matter.

 

On this note, SUARAM strongly urge the following actions be taken immediately:-

 

 1.      An independent and transparent investigation on the officers in charge of Dharmendran;

 2.      The police to disclose the Daily Journal kept by the officer in charge of Dharmendran during the initial detention and remand period;

 3.      An urgent intervention from the Magistrate who had approved the remand application and further heard the bail application; and

 4.      The Attorney General to initiate proceedings against the officers in charge of Dharmendran.

 

For as long as the police are allowed to commit these hideous criminal offences with impunity, the police are not qualified boast and to make public announcements on the level of safety and security on the streets. In fact, the police should start focussing to improve the safety of suspects under police supervision and custody.

 

The speedy approach taken by the police in arresting peaceful dissenters should be equally, if not more vigorously applied to the officers in this case which had caused the life of Dharmendran. Without an independent mechanism to punish these blood thirsty officers, the public will see more fatalities in police custody, police shooting and spiralling corruption in the police force. SUARAM awaits the response from the IGP and the Home Minister.

 

Released by,

 

Thevarajan

Right to Justice

Memorandum Kepada Menteri Dalam Negeri, Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

 

 

Memorandum Kepada Menteri Dalam Negeri, Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Kami mewakili 31 organisasi Bukan Kerajaan di Malaysia yang terdiri dari Pertubuhan Hak Asasi Manusia, pertubuhan hak pekerja, komuniti masyarakat, kumpulan anak muda dan pelajar memandang serius penahanan bermotifkan politik yang dilakukan oleh pihak PDRM.  Kami menghantar memorandum ini dengan hasrat penahanan berunsur politik dihentikan dengan serta-merta dan hak rakyat berhimpun dan meluahkan pandangan seperti yang terjamin dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan dihormati.
Hari ini, 22 May, adalah hari ke-4, Adam Adli Abd Halim berada dalam reman pihak polis di Pusat tahanan Jinjang, Kuala Lumpur. Aktivis muda ini sedang disiasat di bawah Akta Hasutan dan Kanun keseksaan(seksyen 124b)  hanya kerana menyuarakan pendapat untuk sebuah pilihanraya yang adil dan bersih di Malaysia.
Tindakan Polis dan Peguam Negara meminta reman sebanyak 5 hari adalah satu tindakan menghukum anak muda ini dan kami rasa bukan bertujuan untuk menjalankan satu siasatan yang adil. Jika apa yang diluahkan oleh Adam Adli adalah kononnya berunsurkan hasutan, maka rakaman audio dan video cukup untuk membuktikan kes di mahkamah dan tidak perlu untuk satu reman panjang. Namun nampaknya motif polis adalah untuk menghukum dan mengwujudkan suasana takut dikalangan rakyat.
Kami kecewa dengan tindakan polis membuat penahanan ini dan meminta Kementerian Dalam Negeri(KDN) menasihatkan pihak Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) bertindak neutral dan tidak melakukan tugas bermotifkan politik. Isu di mana ADUN Seri Setia Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad di hadapkan ke mahkamah untuk tuduhan di bawah Akta Perhimpunan Aman 2012 turut memberi imej yang sama kepada rakyat.
Penahanan berterusan penganjur perhimpunan aman ini juga menjejaskan imej YAB Perdana menteri yang sebelum ini telah mengatakan beliau melakukan transformasi politik dimana hak rakyat untuk bersuara akan dihormati.
Kerajaan harus menghormati hak bersuara dan  hak berhimpun oleh rakyat secara aman. Hak fundamental ini dijamin di bawah Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia. Tindakan menyekat kebebasan berhimpun dan bersuara adalah satu pencabulan hak asasi dan tidak lagi boleh diteima oleh rakyat dalam zaman moden dan bertamadum kini. Adalah juga suatu kenyataan kesemua perhimpunan yang berlangsung selepas PRU baik yang ada kebenaran polis ataupun yang tiada, semuanya berjalan secara aman, teratur dan tanpa sebarang ancaman kepada ketenteramana awam.
Kami organisasi yang menandatangani memorandum ini dengan ini mendesak YB Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, mengambil langkah yang bijak untuk meredakan kemarahan rakyat dan menghentikan penindasan politik ini dengan serta merta dan menuntut:
 
1. Adam Adli dibebaskan dengan sertamerta dan semua tuduhan keatas beliau digugurkan.
 
2. Hormati hak rakyat berhimpun dan meluahkan perasaan seperti hak yang dijamin dalam Perlembagaan Negara.
 
3. Hentikan sebarang penahanan bermotifkan politik.
Penggunaan undang-undang zalim keatas yang rakyat yang hanya mengamalkan hak-hak demokrasi mereka akan memberi imej buruk kepada PDRM dan Negara amnya. Kerajaan yang memerintah harus menjalankan tanggunjawab secara adil dan saksama dan pihak polis harus dibenarkan menjalankan tanggungjawab mereka secara profesional dan berlandaskan undang-undang.
Di sokong oleh:
1. Malaysian for Beng Hock
2. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
3. Community Development Centre (CDC)
4. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
5. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
6. Pusat KOMAS
7. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
8. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
9. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
10. Community Action Network (CAN)
11. Lawyers For Liberty (LFL)
12. National Institute For Electoral Integrity (NIEI)
13. Civil Right Committee KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
14. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement
15. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)
16. Legasi Mahasiswa Progresif (MMP)
17. Gabungan Mahasiswa Pantai Timur (GEMPUR)
18. Gabungan Mahasiswa UITM Malaysia (GAMUS)
19. Women section of KLSCAH
20. Persatuan Shing An KL & Selangor Women Section
21. Pertubuhan Pembangunan Wanita Malaysia PJ New Town Branch
22. Gerakan Menuntut Pendidikan Percuma (GMPP)
23. Education and Research Association for Consumers (ERA Consumer) Malaysia
24. Persatuan alumni PBTUSM KL & Selangor
25. Kelab Bangsar Utama
26. Tenaganita
27. Amnesty International Malaysia (AI)
28. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
29. Pemuda Dewan Perhimpunan China KL & Selangor (Pemuda KLSCAH)
30. Jawatankuasa Masyarakat Madani Pusat Pembangunan Kebudayaan Lim Lian Geok (LLG)
31. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor