JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT – Gangster-like arrests point to police state in the making

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) condemn the gangster-like tactics of the police in arresting social activists and politicians who were involved in the Kita Lawan peaceful gatherings in Kuala Lumpur last week.

1.    On 26 March, DBKL and plainclothed police officers beat up those who were at Dataran Merdeka to collect signatures for the Free Anwar campaign, a 70-year-old woman was among those assaulted. Six persons, including Perak state assembly representative Chang Lih Kang, were arrested and remanded for four days.

2.    On 27 March, armed masked men abducted social activist Hishamuddin Rais as he was alighting from a taxi at Dataran Merdeka. It was only when a police report was made over the shocking incident witnessed by Kita Lawan participants that the police revealed that Hishamuddin was being held at the Dang Wangi police station.

3.    On 28 March, the day the Kita Lawan ‘wedding procession’ was to take place in KL in the afternoon, police arrested PAS Deputy President Mohamad Sabu in Penang at 12.20am.

4.    On 28 March, soon after the Kita Lawan ‘wedding procession’, three people, including PKR Supreme Council member Fariz Musa, were arrested; the other two were released the same day.

5.    On 29 March, at 3.20am, police, allegedly armed with M16 guns, arrested Selangor MP Khalid Samad at his home in Shah Alam after he participated in the KL procession.

There have also been other arrests a few days in the days running up to the Kita Lawan gatherings. When some 100 activists led by Parti Sosialis Malaysia staged a visit to the customs headquarters in Kelana Jaya to demand answers regarding the Goods and Services Tax, 80 were arrested. Three others were later arrested at a solidarity vigil.

In total, within the last one week, 97 persons were arrested. This is a worrying indication of a police state in the making.

Civil society denounces the brute force and heavy-handed action by police. It is even more disgusting when Inspector General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar defended his hardline “no tolerance” stance on the Kita Lawan rallies, supported by Home Affairs Minister Zahid Hamidi.

The IGP was quoted as saying, “We will take actions against individuals trying to ‘incite’ others in not respecting the system.” Yet the police can look away when pro-BN demonstrators held rallies, e.g. outside the Penang government offices or at the DAP headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The IGP has targeted social activists and certain politicians in his scheme of mass arrests, compromising the position of the Royal Malaysian Police as a neutral enforcer of the law. Such selective actions on his part must be condemned in the strongest manner.

What is even more insidious is Zahid’s announcement of the return of detention without trial under a so-called new law, Prevention of Terrorism Act. This law will bring back the dark ages of the Internal Security Act, under the guise of combating terrorists. Such a law must be resisted and rejected as it will be open to abuse by law enforcers that are acting with impunity.

We therefore call upon the government to:

1.    halt all politically motivated arrests. All charges and investigations against the Kita Lawan and Anti-GST protesters must be dropped;

2.    sack the IGP with immediate effect as he has abused his position of power and acted in violation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed to citizens under the Federal Constitution;

3.    withdraw the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Parliament as this law would bring back detention without trial, which runs against the grain of natural justice and fairness; and

4.    establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without further delay to restore confidence in the Royal Malaysia Police.

 

Issued by SUARAM and the BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee

Kematian Ke-6 Tahun 2015, Hasil Bedah Siasat Perlu Didedahkan Kepada Orang Awam

Pada 13 Mac 2015 yang lepas, satu kes kematian dalam tahanan telah berlaku di Lokap Berpusat Ipoh. Mangsa bernama Mohd Zafari Mohd Yunus direman sejak 5 Mac 2015 (Khamis) sehingga perbicaraan selesai. Beliau ditahan atas tuduhan melakukan rompakan pada tahun 2013. Pada 12 Mac 2015 (Khamis), tahanan telah disabitkan kesalahan oleh mahkamah dan dijatuhkan hukuman penjara lapan tahun dan tiga kali sebatan.

Selepas hukuman dijatuhkan tahanan telah dibawa semula ke lokap. Pada hari yang sama, pada jam 3.15 petang mangsa dikatakan telah jatuh semasa ke tandas dan mengalami kecederaan di bahagian belakang kepala. Mangsa seterusnya dikejarkan ke Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun untuk diberikan rawatan. Bagaimanapun pada keesokkannya iaitu 13 Mac 2015 (Jumaat) jam 1.25 pagi tahanan telah menghembuskan nafas terakhir.

Mengikut laporan Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Perak (CID), Datuk Mohd Dzuraidi Ibrahim mengklasifisikan kematian ini sebagai kematian secara tiba-tiba sementara menunggu siasatan lanjut. Hasil siasatan awal menyatakan kecederaan disebabkan jatuh dan sirosis hati.

Ahli keluarga telah membuat satu laporan polis dan turut membuat permohonan untuk melihat kamera lingkaran tertutup (CCTV) di dalam lokap dan pihak polis mengakui terdapat kamera di dalamnya. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) berharap agar pihak polis menjadikan CCTV sebagai salah satu daripada prosedur siasatan dan pihak keluarga berhak untuk menonton rakaman tersebut.

Kebiasaannya apabila berlaku kes kematian dalam tahanan, pihak polis akan mengeluarkan kenyataan berkaitan hasil siasatan awal kes dan menyatakan bedah siasat akan dijalankan. Bagaimanapun, pihak polis tidak mengeluarkan kenyataan berkaitan hasil bedah siasat yang dilakukan kepada setiap mangsa kematian dalam tahanan.

Adalah sangat baik sekiranya pihak polis memaklumkan kepada orang awam berkaitan hasil siasatan terkini berkaitan kematian dalam tahanan, khususnya keputusan laporan bedah siasat. Ini demi mengelakkan daripada berlakunya penipuan dan kekaburan maklumat.

Ini pernah terjadi dalam kes yang berlaku kepada Syed Mohd Azlan, apabila Datuk Hasnan Hassan mengatakan kematian dalam tahanan adalah secara tiba-tiba tetapi dalam sijil kematian yang dikeluarkan pihak Hospital Sultan Ismail tertulis si mati mati disebabkan hentakan benda tumpul di dada dan bukan mati secara tiba-tiba.

SUARAM menggesa agar pihak polis berlaku telus dalam setiap kes kematian dalam tahan yang berlaku. Tindakan pihak polis tidak bercakap benar atau memberikan maklumat yang sahih adalah sesuatu yang tidak berintegriti dan tidak bertanggungjawab.

Untuk sebarang pertanyaan atau maklumat lanjut sila hubungi:

Tarmizi Anuwar – Koordinator Hak Untuk Keadilan, SUARAM melalui +60136848313 atau [email protected]

 

[GHAH] IGP Must Resign for His Abuse of Power And Misconduct

Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) denounces the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Khalid Abu Bakar of attempting to justify the clamping down of freedom of expression with the threats from Islamic States (IS) and to cover up his selective persecution on those who criticized the Kelantan Syariah bill. GHAH demands the immediate resignation of the IGP for his abuse of power and misconduct.

The Kelantan Syariah bill is an issue of public interest and public members are entitled to comment on it. Minister of tourism, Nazri Aziz has publicly questioned the Kelantan syariah bill and commented that anyone who talked about it was “silly”. Last year, former prime minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad also criticised PAS’s syariah bill and questioned if justice would be served under the PAS’ syariah bill. Rightly so, both enjoyed the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution without any problem from the police.

However, a very different treatment was given to human rights lawyer and executive director of Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), Eric Paulsen, his colleague Michelle Yesudas and BFM radio host Aisha Tajudin. Eric Paulsen was hauled up by police and spent a night in police lock-up for commenting on Kelantan Syariah bill on Twitter. The BFM radio host, Aishah Tajudin, was investigated by police for a satire on the Kelantan Syariah bill despite being threatened with death and rape. Michelle Yesudas was intimidated by the IGP through twitter by asking her to explain her twitter comment regarding the rape threats received by Aishah Tajudin. She was called to police station on 23 March 2015 for investigation.

Eric Paulsen, Aishah Tajudin, Michelle Yesudas and all public members are entitled with exactly the same rights as enjoyed by Nazri Aziz and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Why could some speak freely without any problem while others were subjected to police intimidation, threats, investigation even the loss of their personal liberty?

In defense of the IGP, the home minister Zahid Hamidi claimed that the police did not arrest the two UMNO leaders, Agriculture and Agro based Industries minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob and UMNO Baling women’s chief Dr. Mashitah Ibrahim for investigation of their inflammatory statements as their statement were taken by police in less than 24 hours. Why when it came to the case of Eric Paulsen, suddenly the police needed to make arrest, put him in police lock-up overnight, and even maliciously tried to apply for remand of another four days?

More appalling, the IGP overstepped the lines by making a public statement questioning who Eric Paulsen was to comment on the Kelantan Syariah bill. It is none of the business of the IGP if Eric Paulsen is the appropriate person to comment on the Kelantan Syariah bill. Let the court of law to decide if there is any such dispute.

The double standards and selective persecution of the IGP is stinking high. Clearly, the IGP has not only acted unprofessionally, he has abused his power and committed misconduct.

It is also alarming that instead of doing his job in addressing any threats from the IS, the IGP chose to clamp down the right of the rakyat to freedom of expression. Clearly, Khalid Abu Bakar is not fit to hold the position of IGP anymore.

We call on the IGP to resign immediately. We call on the government to establish the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without further delay.

About GHAH:

GHAH is a movement supported by 133 civil societies in Malaysia spearheaded by SUARAM, Lawyers for Liberty, IKRAM, among others. The objective of GHAH is to carry out a national campaign to bring to an end to the ever present threat against freedom of expression and opinion by the Sedition Act 1948 that hangs over every Malaysian.

Police Acting Unreasonably, Undemocratically and Unconstitutionally

 

SUARAM and BERSIH 2.0 strongly condemn the police’s violent behaviour, excessive use of force and ill-treatment against those who demonstrated at the Customs Department office in Kelana Jaya. The police had acted unconstitutionally when they did not informed the detainees of the grounds of their arrest. Instead, they resorted to inhumane and forceful behaviour. Further, the decision to deny the detainees of legal representative is unacceptable and goes against the every known legal principle guarding rights to liberty internationally and nationally.

Refusal of access to lawyers

Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution provides that “where a person is arrested he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.” This very core principle in our Federal Constitution guarding our liberty was blatantly ignored by the police and the lawyers’ request to meet the detainees was casually dismissed by police with nonsensical and unacceptable answer – “tak ada arahan (no instruction was given).” In their attempt to get access to the detainees, lawyers were forcefully pushed out by the police. The detainees were only allowed access to lawyer 5 minutes before the remand hearing on 24 March 2015 morning, more than 16 hours after the arrest.

The principle of right to legal practitioner is long carved in stone and has been the past practise in the country. The authorities must remember that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and the police’s blatant disregard of Article 5(3) is a severe violations of the civil liberties of Malaysians.

Detainees not informed of grounds of arrest

The detainees arrested were given absolutely no explanation of the arrest even when the detainees repetitively asked for it. They only found out about the grounds of arrest and investigation the next day during the remand process.

Further, Khalid Ismath was detained by police on 23 March 2015 at 11.00 am and was only released the next day at 7.00 pm, an excess of 8 hours than what was lawfully permitted. Article 5(4) of the Federal Constitution provides that “where a person is arrested and not released he shall without unreasonable delay, and in any case within twenty-four hours be produced before a magistrate and shall not be further detained in custody without the magistrate’s authority.”

The police behaviour amounts to arbitrary arrest and detention. It clearly contradicts Article 5 of the Federal Constitution and the core principle of rule of law established to ensure democracy. It is akin to the characteristic of dictatorships and police states which we all so despise. The right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention is a very fundamental principle recognised the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely in Article 3 that “[e]veryone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,” and in Article 9 that “[n]o one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Malaysia, as a member of the United Nations, has the obligation to prevent the commission of such grave human rights violation.

Police’s extrajudicial use of force

It is extremely unacceptable and disappointing that the police Light Strike Force personnel has resort to extrajudicial physical violence and extreme force against the defenceless protestors. Informants had claimed that the detainees were forcefully pushed and beaten during the arrest. The abusive behaviour went on even after the police had secure the arrest – some of the detainees’ face were covered with clothes and beaten on the face by the police.  In addition, the female detainees had claimed that they were denied access to water when asked for it. The police swiftly dismissed their request with an unacceptable answer – “tak ada budget (no budget).”

SUARAM and BERSIH are extremely appalled by such sickening abuse of power by the police and gross violation of the people’s rights to liberty as guaranteed in the constitution. This incident raises yet again the question of police accountability and further heightens public mistrust of the police force. We reiterate the public demand for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). The government and the police cannot act without accountability and transparency for this is a democratic country and the people’s demand should always come first. Those who participate in the rally are not criminals, they are people with genuine concern of the future of the country and the welfare of the people, especially those who will be seriously affected by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. It is ashamed that the government has chosen to resort to such disgraceful method in addressing the issue that most Malaysians so concerned and worried about.

SUARAM and BERSIH 2.0 hereby demands the authorities to:

1. Immediately release all 25 detainees from Shah Alam detention centre and cease investigation against all those involved in the demonstration.

2. Conduct investigation against police officers who broken and violated the standard operation procedure in handling public gatherings and those who committed unlawful extrajudicial use of force; and to hold the police accountable.

3. Address the issue of systematic abuse of power by police by establishing an independent oversight mechanism to investigate police malfeasance and take necessary disciplinary measures.

 

Released by,

Maria Chin Abdullah
Chairperson,
BERSIH 2.0

 

Serene Lim

Program Coordinator

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

 

GHAH urges Twitter users to report the IGP to Twitter for harassment

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Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH) today launches a campaign, urging Twitter users to report the Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar to Twitter for harassment following months of threatening behaviour online.

Since the crackdown under the Sedition Act began in August last year, the IGP has, through Twitter, taken it upon himself to dictate what can or cannot be said online, to the point of likening himself to a social media ‘referee’.

His tweets, urging the Royal Malaysian Police Force to investigate people such as Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar), YB Tony Pua and Eric Paulsen for expressing their views on current issues, are an abuse of social media.

Social media has created a new space for participatory democracy, where citizens can interact with those in power on an equal footing. The freedom to voice opinions in this online sphere must be protected. Contrary to this spirit, the IGP is using Twitter to issue personal threats of police investigation against individuals. The IGP needs to be reminded that to criticise or to question authorities such as JAKIM, the police force and the judiciary is not a crime, it is an integral part of a democratic society and a right enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Last week, the IGP made a number of statements defending his harassment on Twitter and admitted he is targeting politicians and NGO leaders with large numbers of followers. In fact, it appears the IGP acts on the demands of UMNO cybertroopers, even without proper verification of the reported posts, as was the case with a fabricated tweet implicating Penang Deputy Chief Minister P. Ramasamy. GHAH demands the IGP act impartially and professionally when directing his officers to investigate crimes, instead of pursuing specific individuals simply for their opposition to the authorities.

In an effort to protect Twitter users from this ongoing harassment, Malaysians should lodge a report against the IGP’s Twitter handle, @KBAB51, by following the simple steps on the Twitter page for reporting online abuse.

Twitter’s Rules and Policies clearly state users “may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment” and it takes into account if “the reported behaviour is one-sided or includes threats”. The IGP has violated these rules and in banning him, Twitter will be making its platform safer for Malaysians to freely express themselves without fear of persecution by the chief of police.

***

GHAH is a movement supported by 133 civil societies in Malaysia spearheaded by SUARAM, Lawyers for Liberty, IKRAM, among others. The objective of GHAH is to carry out a national campaign to bring to an end to the ever present threat against freedom of expression and opinion by the Sedition Act 1948 that hangs over every Malaysian.