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which allows detention without trial as a serious violation of fundamental human rights and the draconian act must be repealed.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

Call for Nominations SUARAM HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD 2010

Deadline: 25 November 2010

Initiated in 1999 on the 10th anniversary celebration of SUARAM, this annual award seeks to give recognition to local communities and collectives in their outstanding and inspiring endeavours to protect and promote human rights activism in Malaysia.

This year, 11 years after the inaugural award was presented in 1999, SUARAM once again calls for nominations for this award.

Previous winners

Previous winners have been diverse in their causes, but all of them have overcome tremendous hardships and tribulations in the fight for human rights. Winners in previous years were:-

1999: The people of Kampung Sungai Nipah
2000: The Reformasi Movement
2001: Save Our Schools Damansara and wives of ISA detainees (joint winners);
2002: Police Watch & Human Rights Committee
2003: The former plantation workers’ community of Ladang Braemar
2004 The Kuala Kuang villagers and the workers of Euromedical Industries (joint winners);
2005: The Temuan Orang Asli Community from Kampung Bukit Tampoi in Dengkil
2006: the Chin Refugee Committee and the Bukit Jelutong plantation community (joint winners).
2007: The Coalition against Healthcare Privatisation and the residents of Kampung Sungai Terentang, Rawang (joint winners)
2008: The Penan community of Ulu Baram, Sarawak and the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) (joint winners)
2009: Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)

Guidelines
The guidelines are listed as below:-
1. ELIGIBILITY

  • Only communities or groupings of people are eligible for nominations. Nomination of an individual will not be accepted.
  • Nominations of family members of the SUARAM secretariat and staff will not be accepted.

2. NOMINATIONS

  • Nominations will be received from any party, be it from individuals or organizations.
  • The nominating party is required to complete the Nomination Form in the languages of English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil.
  • Supporting Documentation is to be in the languages of English, Malay, Chinese and/or Tamil. These can be photographs, videos, newspaper clippings, newsletter etc.
  • The Nomination Form is to be sent with supporting documentation to SUARAM, via fax, email and/or postal mail.

3. CLOSING DATE

  • Nominations will be closed on 25 November 2010

4. CRITERIA FOR SELECTION

  • Community or group of people which has struggled persistently and fearlessly in defending their rights, justice and dignity against oppression.
  • Organization and leadership of the people which has empowered and activated their people in the process of struggle and to continue in their efforts to promote and protect human rights.
  • Preference will be given to those who have made an impact in the current year.

5. SELECTION AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNER

  • A panel of judges comprising individuals who have been involved in human rights work in the country will select the award winner.
  • The winner will be announced on Human Rights Day, 10 Dec 2010

6. PRIZE FOR AWARD WINNER

  • The winner will receive a prize money of RM2,000.00 and a specially-commissioned glass trophy designed by renowned artist Wong Hoy Cheong.

For further enquiries, please contact Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar (03 7784 3525 / 7783 5724; fax +603 7784 3526; or suaram(at)suaram.net).

__________________

SUARAM HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD 2010
Nomination Form
I. Nominee
Name of community / group of people: _________________________
Address: _________________________________________________
Contact Person & Phone No: _________________________________
II. Please answer each of the following questions on a separate sheet of paper and include with this nomination form.1. Profile of nominee
Please describe the background and composition of the community or group of people that you are nominating. Also, please describe the activities, actions and/or programs for which recognition is being sought. Please attach supporting documentation.
(No less than 300 words, excluding supporting documentation. There is no limit for supporting documentation.)

2. Justification
Please describe how the activities, actions and/or programs relate to the purpose of the Human Rights Award.
Please state clearly how the activities, actions and/or programmes of the community or group of people that you are nominating fulfil each of the following criteria:

  • The persistence in their struggle to defend their rights, justice and dignity against oppression.
  • The fearlessness in their struggle to defend their rights, justice and dignity against oppression.
  • The extent of which their work has empowered their people to continue the efforts to promote and protect human rights.

(No less than 200 words)

D. Submitted by:
Name: ______________________________________________
Organization Name: _____________________________________
Address: _____________________________________________
Tel: _______________________ Fax: ______________________
Email: _______________________________________________
Date: ______________________ Signature: __________________

D. Send the completed nomination form together with any supporting documents to the following:

Via Snail MailSUARAM Human Rights Award 2010
c/o Suara Rakyat Malaysia
433A, Jalan 5/46, Gasing Indah, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel: 03-77843525
Fax: 03-77843526
Please ensure that the envelope is marked “SUARAM Human Rights Award 2010”

Via Email
Please send the nomination form and supporting documents (zipped, in either Word/PDF format) to suaram(at)suaram.net with the subject line “SUARAM Human Rights Award 2010 Nominations”

Memorandum of protest to the IGP on the arrest and detention of inquest witness K.Selvach Santhiran

Bukit Aman, 30 October 2010

Introduction

The continuing descent of the PDRM into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the 25 October beating and abduction of K. Selvach Santhiran by men in plainclothes claiming to be police personnel who did not properly identify themselves. Selvach was one of the key witnesses who testified against the police in the recently concluded R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest.

On the very day the verdict was delivered in the inquest, the police moved against Selvach and came to his home to arrest him. When Selvach’s children asked the police why their father was being dragged away, the police answered by beating Selvach in front of his own children. In a twisted perversion of conjugal love, the police tried to make Selvach’s wife S.Saraswathy kiss him before beating him up in front of her.

Selvach, who did his duty as an upright citizen by telling the truth at the R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest, is now being held at an unknown location with no access to his family or lawyers despite several efforts to meet him or ascertain his whereabouts.

It is believed that he is being detained without trial under the draconian Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 or the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 that allow the police to detain a person for 60 days with no recourse to judicial safeguard and thereafter 2 years’ detention on the order of the Home Minister.

Our Protest

Whilst we understand that the police have an important and onerous job to prevent and combat crime, the police must understand that the wide powers of arrest and detention cannot be abused and used arbitrarily. As a professional police force, they should be guided by the law and legal processes in the country and not act with impunity and complete disregard for constitutional and judicial safeguards.

This is unfortunately symptomatic of the police’s inability to act professionally as a police force that can work within a modern criminal justice system and not resort to preventive measures that do not require any real police work and diligence. The police should instead strive to be a modern and professional force that conform to international standards and best practices and not regress to wrongful practices that have caused the public to lose so much confidence with the police force.

The aggressive and unlawful response of the police is a reflection of the general arrogance and lack of respect for the Federal Constitution, the rule of law and other legal procedures. This is not an isolated incident but a continuation of a long standing series of acts by the police that showed their contempt for the rights of the people that have resulted in gross abuse of police powers leading to brutality, torture, arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, shooting, custodial violence and death.

The arrest and detention of Selvach is gravely aggravated by the fact that he was arrested on the same day – after the outrageous and scandalous “open verdict” delivered by Coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin in the R.Gunasegaran death in police custody inquest. Selvach was one of three persons who were in police custody with R.Gunasegaran and they have consistently identified Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal as having physically assaulted the deceased. They did so despite threats to their safety by the police and despite the inducement that their cooperation would secure their immediate release.

It cannot be a mere coincidence that Selvach was arrested so soon and further more he was detained under unspecified accusations under draconian provisions that allow the police to detain a suspect without trial for up to two years. It goes without saying that whistleblowers should be protected by the administration of law rather than punished by law enforcement officers. This is a blatant abuse of police power and a serious criminal act that can be prosecuted under the Penal Code and may further be subjected to contempt of court proceedings. Further, these actions point to police retaliation and clearly intended to intimidate those who speak up against injustices or wrongdoings perpetrated by members of the police force.

Uncivilised and unjust laws like the DDA and EO have no place in a modern and democratic state like Malaysia. These oppressive laws and methods violate the constitutional and human rights of the people and are contemptuous of the judicial authority and the legal process. The Malaysian Bar and civil society have forcefully and repeatedly called for the repeal of all preventive detention laws and for such arbitrary arrests and re-arrests to cease.

The police cannot be permitted to continue to operate in an environment of impunity but as this tragic episode has explicitly illustrated, the police has just sent a strong message that they can act as they please with no regard to the rule of law, police professionalism and the law and procedure governing their conduct.

Our Demands

The Inspector General of Police must:

a) release Selvach immediately and issue a public apology to him and his family;

b) take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Selvach;

c) support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;

d) stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under preventive detention laws;

e) undertake to respect the right of the people for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times;

f) require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation when affecting their powers;

g) support human rights education and training programmes, with a view to changing the attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.

Submitted by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) on behalf of the family of K. Selvach Santhiran

ABOLISH ISA: THE TOOL OF INJUSTICE AND POLITICAL ARBITRARINESS!

PRESS STATEMENT: 27TH OCTOBER 2010

27th October 2010, marks the 23rd Anniversary of one of the countries biggest political crackdown; the infamous Operasi Lalang, The Operasi Lalang saw the arbitrary arrests and detention without trial of 106 persons ranging from the Parliament Opposition Leader and members of Parliament to trade unionists, Chinese education movement leaders and non-governmental organization (NGO) activists who were working on the issues of environmental protection, women, workers rights etc under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Other victims of the Operation were two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan which had their the publishing licenses revoked.

Until today, the 1987 mass arrest remains as the pillar of political arbitrariness and injustice in a democratic nation that have achieved its independence 53 years ago. It’s an affront to our democracy and independence that ISA were engineered by the colonial masters continues to be used on its citizens and people for their legitimate political and dissent activities.

This year mark the 50th year of the draconian act being in power with the scope of the ISA broadened and the list of its “victims” has grown ever longer. Over the years the ISA was amended 19 times with every amendment further diluting the fundamental rights and incrementally extended Executive powers and judicial safeguards. In 1989 the government has amended Section 8B of the ISA to deny legitimate legal redress for a Judicial Review. The ISA also since then have been used to arbitrarily detain people said to be members of alleged religious groups, students, professionals, politicians, political and human rights activists and even journalists. The 1987 Operasi Lalang marks the significance of being the single most operation that have detained and incarcerated people from the full spectrum of the political citizens of the country.

The ISA has since become a convenient political tool to clampdown on dissent where the Executive continues to enjoy permanent, unfettered discretion to determine, according to their subjective interpretation on any activity and person as a potential threat to national security and of their detention. The unjust law has also created a climate of impunity and abuse of power with arbitrary powers extended to the police to arrest, detain and torture any person without being subjected to any accountability or judicial check and balance. The ISA in its investigation have often clearly contravened international humanitarian standards and religious principles of humane treatment of a person with dignity.

As such the ISA is contrary to fundamental principles of international law, including the right to liberty of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, to be informed of the reasons for arrest, to the presumption of innocence, and to a fair and open trial in a court of law. The ISA is also prejudicial to development of human rights and democracy with its wider, intimidating effect on civil society, and a marked influence on the nature of political participation, democracy and accountability in Malaysia .

It’s a shame that despite 53 years of Independence from the British Colonial Masters, the government continue to defend the ISA and turning the blind eye on the critics and calls made by many Malaysian to repeal this draconian law. The act reveals the lack of political will to address the view of the people and its commitment to human rights and democracy. This is seen with the futile and failing effort by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to review and amend the ISA that remain a mystery and merely as a political gesture.

SUARAM is of the view that all detention-without-trial laws are a gross human rights violation and goes against the spirit of the Federal Constitution, as well as contravene Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1981). We on this 50the Anniversary of Operasi Lalang hereby demand that the government:

1. Abolish all existing unjust laws such as the ISA, EO (Emergency Ordinance), DDA (Dangerous Drugs Act), and the RRA (Restricted Residence Act AND to release, or charge all those detained under this laws in an open court) with an immediate effect.

2. Close down immediately all detention centres for detainees held without trial, such as Kamunting and Simpang Renggam.

4. Awards compensation to all those who have been detained without trial, for being unjustly deprived of their liberty and denied their due rights.

5. Makes a public apology to all such detainees, past and present, and compensates them for the injustice, abuse and suffering inflicted on them during and as a result of their detention.

6. Investigates all complaints and cases of abuse, torture, inhuman treatment and abuse of power perpetrated on any detainees, past or present; prosecutes those responsible and sets up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission as proposed by the Royal Commission on Police in 2005.

7. Recognizes respects and restores the proper powers of the judiciary, as an independent body, to provide a check and balance on the power of the police and executive, and repeals all laws which have removed such judicial oversight.

Released By,

Nalini.E

SUARAM Coordinator

Death in custody perpetrator freed while witness to crime is victimised

Press Statement: 27 October 2010

SUARAM condemns the police beating and arrest of K. Selvachandran, a witness in R. Gunasegaran’s death in custody inquest. He had testified during the inquest that he saw Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib assaulted Gunasegaran before the suspect collapsed and died. On 25 October, the coroner’s court gave an “open verdict” into R Gunasegaran’s inquest because the cause of his death while in police custody could not be conclusively proven.

On the same day, K. Selvachandran was arrested at his home around 10pm by 5 plainclothes police officers and beaten up in front of his wife and children before he was taken away to the KL police contingent headquarters. The officers told Selvachandran’s wife, S. Saraswathy that he would be detained for 60 days, and may be extended to an additional 2 years. It should be noted that only 3 laws allow for such a long period of detention, namely the Internal Security Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures) and the Emergency Ordinance.

SUARAM is extremely concerned with the arrest and detention of Selvachandran – as the police seemed to be sending a strong message that they can act with impunity with no regards to the rule of law, police professionalism and the law and procedure governing their conduct. It cannot be a mere coincidence that Selvachandran was arrested so soon and further more he was detained under unspecified charges under draconian provisions that allow the police to detain a suspect without trial for up to two years. It is a blatant abuse of police power that points to police retaliation

SUARAM demands for the immediate release of Selvachandran and calls for Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar to walk the talk of his 4P (Proactive, Protective, Performance-oriented and People-oriented) plan by first curbing the culture of lawlessness and abuse of power in the police force as exemplified in the death of Gunasegaran and detention without trial of Selvachandran.

The IGP must ensure that police officers adhere to the laws and procedures that govern the arrest and detention of suspects, and they cannot act as they pleased to retaliate against a witness who testified against them. What message is being sent to other potential witnesses other than a strong warning not to testify against the police?

SUARAM also calls for the implementation of the IPCMC as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Police in 2005 to hold the police accountable over abuse of power and human rights as clearly proven time and time again; the police cannot be relied upon to investigate themselves.

Released by,

Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar

Coordinator