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

CARTOONIS ZUNAR ARRESTED: RELEASE HIM IMMEDIATELY!

URGENT APPEAL: 24 SEPTEMBER 2010

CARTOONIS ZUNAR ARRESTED: RELEASE HIM IMMEDIATELY!

Suaram strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque – better known as Zunar. The Police raided his office premises and seized about 70 copies of his latest book, Cartoon-o-phobia, due to be launched tonight. 10 police officers led by ASP Arikrishnan Apparau from the Brickfields police station raided the premises at about 4pm. Currently Zunar is being held in Brickfields police station and he is accompanied by human rights lawyer, Latheefa Koya. The reason of his arrest is still unclear.

We express our profound disappointment over the abuse of powers by the police and for their 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. We demand the police to release Zunar immediately and without any conditions.

Background

Cartoon-o-phobia features a collection of political cartoons that have appeared on the Malaysiakini website as well as unpublished cartoons and fresh artworks.

Urgent Action Needed:

Please write protest letters to the government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the arrests and the ongoing denial of rights of expression.

Please call and send your protest letters to:

1. Inspector-General of Police

Tan Sri Ismail Omar,
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613

2. YB Hishamuddin Hussein,

Home Minister,Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D
Pusat Pentadbiran
Kerajaan Persekutuan
62546 Putrajaya

Tel: 03 8886 8000
Fax: 03-88891613/03-88891610

SAMPLE LETTER

[Letterhead of your organisation]

Inspector-General of Police
Tan Sri Ismail Omar,
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613

Dear Sir,

Re: Release Zunar Immediately!

We are writing to you once again to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government’s ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression.

We are appalled by your government and the police’s latest actions and view this as yet another attempt by your government to intimidate Malaysian citizens from exercising their freedom to express their views.

We demand that Zunar to be released immediately and unconditionally. We further demand that your government stops the assault on freedom of expression.

We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. We would like to remind you that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

Urgent Appeal Released by,

Nalini Elumalai,

SUARAM 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

Guna’s death is police’s fault, claims lawyer

news: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/142524
Joseph Sipalan
Sep 13, 10
3:29pm

The coroner’s court today was told that the blame for R Gunasegaran’s death in custody fell squarely on the police for their “actions and omissions”.

Counsel M Visvanathan, who is representing Gunasegaran’s family, claimed that the police had “expedited” Gunasegaran’s death by assaulting him while he was in detention and failing to provide him emergency first aid when he collapsed.

Visvanathan (left) added that the police officers involved in the case had failed in carrying out their duties, accusing them of refusing to act on information that they gathered from witnesses’ statements.

“It appears as if there is a conspiracy among several parties in this case to keep the truth behind Gunasegaran’s death from surfacing,” he said in his submission at the inquest.

Visvanathan went further by accusing the six police witnesses of lying to the court and giving statements that contradicted each other on numerous issues.

He maintained that Gunasegaran died from a large injury measuring nearly a foot long and five centimetres deep on his chest caused by a kick allegedly made by Lans Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib, and not due to a drug overdose as claimed by deputy public prosecutor Shashitah Mohamad Hanifa.

Gunasegaran, 31, who was arrested on a drug charge, collapsed while being fingerprinted at the facility between 6.45pm and 7pm while in police custody and was pronounced dead at 7.40pm on July 16 at Kuala Lumpur Hospital last year.

The police said in its official findings that Gunasegaran died due to drug abuse.

Visvanathan however agreed with Shahsitah’s argument that the police officers involved had abused their powers and failed to follow procedure when carrying out their duties.

Officers were lax

Shahsitah earlier contended that the officers involved had failed to file a report on Gunasegaran’s arrest as required, neither have they filed a report to this day on Gunasegaran’s death in custody.

She added that the officers who detained Gunasegaran and four others in an anti-crime raid on July 16 last year did not make any notes in their pocket books.

The list went on with a clear violation of procedure when they recorded statements from the detainee witnesses at 2.30am and also contradictions between what was written in the station diary and the testimony of the officers regarding the time of the raid.

Earlier when taking the stand, Sergeant Major Rajinder Singh shot down an entry in the Sentul police station diary which recorded that the operation started at 3pm, saying that it was a mistake in the station diary while maintaining that the operation started at 5.30pm.

Shahsitah stressed that this failure to follow proper procedure shows a lack of responsibility among the officers involved and opened the police to “avoidable” accusations.

“However, what is clear is that the testimony of the experts must be considered by the court and it is difficult for the court not to accept the testimony that the cause of death is drug-related,” she said.

Coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin has set aside Oct 21 to present the court’s findings.

Government Must Stop Attempts to Undermine Freedom of Expression

Press Statement: 6 September 2010

SUARAM condemns the recent crackdowns by the government which points to the continuing trend of intimidation to curb freedom of expression in the country.
SUARAM is appalled by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) recent charging of a blogger, Irwan Abdul Rahman, for a posting on his blog. The posting, a satire entitled “TNB to Sue WWF over Earth Hour”, earned Encik Irwan a charge under Section 233 (1) (a) of the MCMC Act 1998, for “improper use of network facilities […] by making […] any content that is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in characters with malicious intent”.

The MCMC’s charge is indeed frivolous as it has treated a satirical blog post intended to be humourous as one with “malicious intent”. However, even more worrying is that this case appears to be the latest of the numerous examples of the government’s attempts to shrink the public space for free expression and discussion, and to silence voices of dissent. Other recent crackdowns such as on prominent Chinese radio personality Jamaluddin Ibrahim, and Sarawak Tribune Editor, Paul Si point to a clear and continuing pattern of intimidation to curb freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Malaysia.

Further, SUARAM is concerned over Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s recently announced special task force, set up to monitor online postings that can cause “disunity and racial tension”, which could further strengthen the government’s control over the Internet. The setting up of this task force is also problematic as the record shows that the government’s enforcement of issues of racism has always been lopsided, with UMNO-linked personalities and organisations continuously allowed to make racist remarks freely and publicly without any repercussions or action by the authorities.

SUARAM calls upon the MCMC to drop its charge against Irwan Abdul Rahman immediately. SUARAM further urges the government to stop its intimidation and crackdown against those who exercise their fundamental right to free speech and expression.

Released by,
Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar
Coordinator