TAKE ACTION: SIGN THE PETITION – Memorandum on Ill Representation and Discrimination of the Queer Community in the Media

To: Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM)

June 10, 2010

We refer to the articles published in Kosmo! (“Parti Lesbian Berleluasa”) and the Harian Metro (“Aksi Panas Pengkid, Lesbian”) dated 2nd and 16th May respectively.

We, the undersigned, are enraged by the usage of disparaging words such as “songsang” (deviant), “lucah” (lewd) and “jijik” (disgusting) in the newspaper reports to describe the queer community. The words used by Kosmo! and the Harian Metro and echoed by other newspapers (such as The Star, 3 May 2010) are heavily loaded with moral connotations and paint the queer community unjustifiably and unfairly as deviants and morally tainted.

These recent attacks were first and foremost attacks on sexual rights and, by extension, on human rights. The claim and exercise of these rights are integral to a person’s identity and self-worth and do not in any way contribute to general misconduct or a decline in moral values as wrongly implied by these journalists and newspapers. The continued stigma and discrimination perpetuated by the media towards the queer community (more pronounced since August 2003 when a memorandum was sent to Suhakam then) shows that Suhakam has done nothing to effectively uphold the human rights of the queer community as Malaysians of equal status.

These attacks were also a violation of privacy since these gatherings were by invitation only and exclusive to the queer community concerned.

Besides those two articles which were published recently in Harian Metro and Kosmo!, more than a dozen of articles have been published this year alone in local newspapers (please refer to attachment). These articles are reflective of an ongoing hostile trend by the media towards people of different sexual orientation and gender identity, in complete disregard for their human rights.

We strongly condemn journalists and newspapers who use unscrupulous tactics to obtain their stories and who further rely on sensationalism and titillation to sell their newspapers. We consider these journalists and newspapers unethical and unprofessional because they break the profession’s own standards of good reporting.

Both journalists and editors should be aware of the impact and consequences of how the news is reported especially when it comes to news about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities where unethical and biased reporting only instigates hate and violence towards the queer community. Creating and encouraging an environment of hate and violence is criminal. As a result of such irresponsible reporting, private spaces are being invaded and violated, thus making it harder and harder for the queer community to enjoy their human rights just like other Malaysians.

In light of our urgent concerns, we repeat our call since 28 August 2003, and urge Suhakam:

First, to push for the protection of the human rights of individuals perceived or identified lesbians, bisexuals, gay, transsexual, transgendered, queer, under the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Second, to pressure the government to repeal all laws that outlaw and criminalise mutually consensual sexual behaviour between adults.

Third, to further educate citizens on constitutional provisions for the protection of the human rights of citizens and non-citizens, and to further educate the public on the spirit and core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Yogyakarta Principles.

Fourth, to pressure the government to repeal all laws that restrict freedom of expression and freedom of information.

We hope that together, we will all be able to protect the democratic principles enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution, and strengthen the practice of a truly humane, participatory democracy in Malaysia.

sign the petition online at: http://www.petitiononline.com/kryss/petition.html

Appendix | Lampiran:

1.Grandpa Held in Raid at Gay Joint, Feb 4, 2010, The Star
2.Kisah gay di Malaysia, Feb 28, 2010, Utusan Malaysia
3.Pesta Khatan Berkepit Pondan, March 17, 2010, Harian Metro
4.Serbu Mak Nyah Mencari Pelanggan, March 27, 2010, Harian Metro
5.Belaian Lelaki Jambu, Apr 11, 2010, Harian Metro
6.Pondan Kejam, Apr 14, 2010, Harian Metro
7.Hasutan Cinta Pengkid, Apr 21, 2010, Kosmo!
8.Dua gay durjana, Apr 26, 2010, Harian Metro
9.Parti lesbian berleluasa, May 2, 2010, Kosmo!
10.More than 100 go wild at lesbian party, May 3, 2010, The Star
11.Iklan pasangan songsang, May 11, 2010, Harian Metro
12.Gays put themselves out on social media sites, May 12, 2010, The Star
13.Tv3’s Raid on the gay massage parlour, May 20, 2010, 999 – TV3
14.Pengarah Filem Diugut, May 25, 2010, Harian Metro
15.Mak Nyah Tua Dicekup, May 28, 2010, Harian Metro
16.Tagih cinta gadis, June 9, 2010, Harian Metro

————–
Endorsed by | Disokong oleh:

Organization | Organisasi:
1.All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
2.Annexe Gallery
3.Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW)
4.Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
5.Malaysian Bar Council
6.Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
7.Straten Malaysia
8.Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
9.Titled World
10.Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI)
11.Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

sign the petition online at: http://www.petitiononline.com/kryss/petition.html

Stop the arrests of refugees and release the 45 Sri Lankan refugees now

Urgent Appeal: 24 March 2010

Urgent Appeal: 24 March 2010

SUARAM has been informed that 45 Sri Lankan refugees were arrested last night at Ipoh. They have since been taken to Langkap Immigration Detention Centre. We have identified 21 individuals in the group, all of whom are refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The names of the refugees will not be published for security and confidentiality purposes. We condemn the ongoing arrest of refugees with UNHCR documents.

SUARAM demands that the group of Sri Lankan refugees are given access to UNHCR immediately and consequently upon verification, released into UNHCR’s official care. All asylum seekers who have been detained by authorities must be given access to UNHCR who will verify their asylum claims. This must be extended to not only this group of Sri Lankan refugees but all asylum seekers and refugees arrested by law enforcement authorities.

SUARAM is concerned with the ongoing crackdown on undocumented migrants conducted by Immigration authorities. We have received a few reports of arrest of refugees with UNHCR documents in the past week. We call upon the Malaysian Government to ensure that that all law enforcement agencies (in particular RELA, Police and Immigration) respect UNHCR documents and refrain from arresting holders of these documents.

We also call upon the Malaysian Government to ensure that the law enforcement agencies respect and protect the rights of migrants and refugees during the course of the crackdown, including refraining from arresting migrants whose passports are held by their employers.

We remind the Malaysian Government of its obligation to uphold the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.

Released by,

Temme Lee
Coordinator

Urgent action needed:

Please write protest letters to the government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the mistreatment of refugees. Please also demand the Malaysian Government to stop the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees.

Please call and send your protest letters to:

Depot Imigresen Langkap
Jalan Chui Chak
36700 Langkap
Perak
Tel: +605-6592528
Fax: +605-6592527
Komandan Tel.: +605-6593898

Dato’ Abdul Rahman bin Othman
Director-General of Immigration Department,
Director-General’s Office,
Immigration Department of Malaysia Headquarters,
Level 7 (Podium),
No 15, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
62550 Putrajaya,
Malaysia
Tel: +603-88801005
Fax: +603-88801201
E-Mail: [email protected]

Y.B. Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein
Home Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs
Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D
Pusat Pentadbiran
Kerajaan Persekutuan
62546 Putrajaya
Tel : +603-8886 8000
Fax : +603-88884913
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building ,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA
Tel : +603-8888 8000
Fax : +603-8888 3444
E-Mail: [email protected]

SAMPLE LETTER

[Letterhead of your organisation]

Dato’ Abdul Rahman bin Othman
Director-General of Immigration Department,
Director-General’s Office,
Immigration Department of Malaysia Headquarters,
Level 7 (Podium),
No 15, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
62550 Putrajaya,
Malaysia
Tel: +603-88801005
Fax: +603-88801201
E-Mail: [email protected]

Dear Sir,

RE: Stop the Arrests of Refugees and Release the 45 Sri Lankan Refugees Now

We are writing to you to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government’s treatment of Sri Lankan refugees in Malaysia.

We demand that the 45 Sri Lankan refugees detained at Langkap Immigration Detention Centre are released immediately into the custody of UNHCR. We demand that UNHCR is given immediate and free access to register those who have yet to access UNHCR. This applies to all refugees and asylum seekers that are arrested my Malaysian law enforcement authorities.

We demand that the Malaysian Government take measures to protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are currently in Malaysia and fully respect the principle of non-refoulement, as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), two UN Conventions of which Malaysia is party to.

We remind the Malaysian Government of its obligation to uphold the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.

We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia and to ratify 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. The Malaysian Government must take serious measures in promoting and protecting human rights if it intends to run for elections into the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

Kendalikan Inkues terhadap semua kes Kematian dalam Tahanan dengan Segera!

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) mengutuk tindakan  Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) atas satu lagi kes kematian dalam tahanan iaitu saudara P.Babu yang berumur 28 tahun dalam lokap Ibupejabat Polis Daerah Jempol, Negeri Sembilan.

Mengikut keterangan saudara kepada mangsa, M. Mahadevan, 35,P.Babu dijangka telah terlibat  dalam beberapa kes samun pada 26 Januari 2010 di kawasan Ladang Bahau. Selepas dicari oleh pihak polis, maka  mangsa bersama dengan rakannya telah menyerah diri kepada polis pada 28 januari 2010 untuk membantu Polis dalam siasatan.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) mengutuk tindakan  Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) atas satu lagi kes kematian dalam tahanan iaitu saudara P.Babu yang berumur 28 tahun dalam lokap Ibupejabat Polis Daerah Jempol, Negeri Sembilan.

Mengikut keterangan saudara kepada mangsa, M. Mahadevan, 35,P.Babu dijangka telah terlibat  dalam beberapa kes samun pada 26 Januari 2010 di kawasan Ladang Bahau. Selepas dicari oleh pihak polis, maka  mangsa bersama dengan rakannya telah menyerah diri kepada polis pada 28 januari 2010 untuk membantu Polis dalam siasatan.

Namun demikian, P babu didapati telah mati dalam lokap pada 1hb Februari 2010 atas alsasan beliau membunuh diri di lokap dengan menggunakan baju lokap yang dipakai oleh mangsa. Malah, mengikut keluarga mangsa, pihak polis hanya memberitahu kematian mangsa P. Babu hanya selepas proses bedah siasat habis dijalankan. Suaram mempunyai beberapa soalan dalam perkara ini. Dimanakah pegawai polis yang bertugas berada ketika mangsa bunuh diri? Mengapakah pihak polis mengambil tempoh masa yang begitu lama untuk memaklumkan kepada pihak keluarga mangsa? Apakah  hasil daripada bedah siasat yang dijalankan?

Maka, SUARAM amat meragui punca kes kematian P.Babu yang dikatakan membunuh diri dan sekaligus tidak dapat menerima alasan pihak polis yang menyatakan bahawa CCTV di lokap tersebut telah rosak pada hari kejadian .  SUARAM  mengesa kerajaan menjalankan  inkues serta membenarkan  bedah siasat untuk  kali kedua bagi mengetahui punca  kematian P.Babu. Pihak polis perlu bertanggungjawab terhadap segala kes kematian dalam tahanan kerana adalah tanggugjawab polis untuk menjaga OKT(orang kena tahan) dalam keadaan sihat seperti yang dinyatakan dalam Akta Kaedah-Kaedah Lokap(L.N.3289/1958)(4).

Kes kematian dalam tahanan ini adalah bukan yang pertama. Malah, sehingga kini satu penyiasatan yang menyeluruh dan terperinci tidak pernah dijalankan terhadap mana-mana kes kematian dalam tahanan polis  yang dilaporkan. SUARAM berpandangan kes kematian dalan tahanan polis adalah satu isu yang amat berat dan menyalahi undang-undang Hak Asasi Antarabangsa.

Maka dengan ini SUARAM  menyeru agar kerajaan:

1. Segera melaksanakan  IPCMC iaitu  Suruhanjaya Bebas Salahlaku dan Aduan Polis yang dicadangkan oleh Suruhanjaya Diraja Penambahbaikan Perjalanan dan Pengurusan Polis Diraja Malaysia yang bersifat bebas serta telus dan adil

2. Wujudkan Mahkamah koroner yang bebas untuk meyiasat segala kes kematian dalam tahanan dan inkues yang terbuka perlu dijalankan dengan serta merta bagi setiap kes kematian dalam tahanan.

3. Membawa semua pihak yang terlibat dan bertanggungjawab dalam kes Kematian tahanan sebelum ini dan termasuk P. Babu untuk dibawa ke muka pengadilan dengan segera.
Yang bertugas,
Lucas Yap Heng Lung
Penyelaras SUARAM

The Anwar Ibrahim Trial: A Discredited Government’s Attempts to Persecute Opponent with Archaic Sodomy Laws

While the trial of Anwar Ibrahim on the charge of sodomy has drawn international concerns about whether he will be given a fair trial, the government-controlled media has today begun their “trial by media” in the same way they did over Sodomy trial #1. They have given headline prominence to the accuser’s allegations in an attempt to besmirch Anwar’s reputation and integrity.

While the trial of Anwar Ibrahim on the charge of sodomy has drawn international concerns about whether he will be given a fair trial, the government-controlled media has today begun their “trial by media” in the same way they did over Sodomy trial #1. They have given headline prominence to the accuser’s allegations in an attempt to besmirch Anwar’s reputation and integrity.

In a repeat of the trial of Anwar 12 years ago on charges of corruption and sodomy, the latest trial bears the characteristic political persecution of the leader of the Opposition who has since the general elections of 2008, posed the biggest challenge to the ruling regime since Independence.

The way the trial has progressed clearly shows that Anwar has been denied a fair trial. Even before the trial began, the prosecution has refused to deliver evidence to the defence which is fundamental to ensuring a fair trial. Consequently, SUARAM does not believe that the current trial of Anwar will be in any manner fair and just.

The focus of the government-controlled media in playing up the testimony of Mohd Saiful at the High Court yesterday is clearly an attempt to discredit and cast doubts in the minds of the public over the morals of the former deputy prime minister.

While issues surrounding the question of a fair trial have drawn national and international concerns, another serious human rights violation surrounding the criminal charge on Anwar is the use of the archaic sodomy law of the country against him. All over the world, including countries in Asia, antiquated laws on sodomy are being abolished. On 2 July 2009, the Delhi High Court delivered a historic judgement to amend a 149-year-old colonial-era law and forthwith decriminalised private consensual sex between adults of the same sex. India became the 127th country to decriminalise homosexuality.

It is a shame that a country like Malaysia, which has in the past chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights and has been a recent member of the UN Human Rights Council, not only continues to maintain such archaic laws criminalising homosexuality but also uses it in a politically-motivated trial to discredit and neutralise a political challenger. The Barisan Nasional government’s continued pursuance of the political trial of Anwar Ibrahim and the farcical manner in which the trial progresses will doubtless discredit Malaysia in the eyes of the international community.

SUARAM strongly urges the government to drop its charges on Anwar and further calls for the abolition of our outdated sodomy laws. SUARAM further calls on the Malaysian media to be responsible in reporting the trial and not make this a parallel “trial by media”.

Released by,

John Liu

ID cards for refugees: A step in the right direction

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by the Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam on the Government’s plans to issue identification cards to refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We view this as a positive development towards the recognition of the right to seek asylum as enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by the Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam on the Government’s plans to issue identification cards to refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We view this as a positive development towards the recognition of the right to seek asylum as enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

However, SUARAM notes with disappointment that Mahmood Adam stated that the refugees “cannot work here, but they can do odd jobs” . Government must also allow refugees access to full-time work and earn a living while they remain in the country. The more than 75,000 refugees and asylum seekers currently registered with UNHCR is an existing source of labour. Instead of importing more migrant workers, the Government should first exhaust existing sources of labour in the country.

With regards to the planned crackdown on undocumented migrants scheduled to be carried out on 15 February, the Government must take precautions to prevent arrests of refugees and asylum seekers carrying UNHCR documents. In addition, the Government must make concerted efforts to identify the root causes for the large population of undocumented migrants in Malaysia which include labour trafficking and poorly formed policies that causes migrant workers to become undocumented. Crackdowns are in reality a flash in the pan, big efforts that fail solve a problem. What is needed in Malaysia is reform of immigration policies.

Malaysia has long been criticised for its poor treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers. On a daily basis, refugees and asylum seekers are arrested, sentenced for immigration offences, whipped and detained indefinitely. SUARAM hopes that with this current effort to issue identification cards for refugees, the Government is changing its treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers and that more changes towards respecting the rights of refugees will be made.

Lastly, SUARAM calls upon the Government to ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Released by,

Temme Lee
Coordinator