Press Statement: 10 June 2013
Malaysian crackdown under Sedition and assembly laws exposed at UN
SUARAM has exposed the selective persecution of civil society and opposition groups at the United Nations from 28th May till 4thJune by highlighting the recent crackdown, arrests of six Malaysians under sedition and public assembly laws.
SUARAM on behalf of Aliran, meeting in Geneva for the 23rd Session of the world body’s Human Rights Council, outlined for the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression how the Sedition Act of 1948 and the Public Assembly Act of 2012 had together been used with great prejudice to stifle all protests against a tainted general election, held on May 5, and the contentious results.
SUARAM turned the UN spotlight to how Malaysian laws that oppress freedom of expression have been used to crack down on young undergraduates Mohammad Safwan Anang and Adam Adli, both aged 24. SUARAM also revealed the arrests of two opposition MPs, Tian Chua and Tamrin Ghafar, social activists Haris Ibrahim of Anything But Umno (ABU) and playwright and civil society activist Hishamuddin Rais. All six attended a post-general election forum last May 13, when calls were made for a mammoth, million-strong rally to protest alleged electoral fraud. SUARAM also told the UN Rapporteur that 18 Malaysians who held a candle-light vigil for the detained student Adam were also arrested.
SUARAM also detailed incidents of political violence for the UN, including the assault of two men putting up opposition party flags by five assailants, the detonation of explosive devises, launching of petrol bombs and the torching of a car linked to an opposition party member.
The SUARAM team also had a private meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Mr Frank La Rue after his official address to highlight their concerns and urge an urgent mission by the SR to Malaysia in the near future. Mr La Rue has requested an invitation to conduct a mission to Malaysia on 2 occasions previously but to date the Malaysian government has refused such a visit.SUARAM raised the injustice of S.114A of the Evidence Act, which now allows individuals or intermediaries to be punished for online content they have not created and have no control over.
On the 4th June ,at a side event organised by Forum Asia entitled ‘Freedom of Assembly &Expression in the context of Elections’, SUARAM delegation also briefed international diplomats and human rights organisations on the long list of electoral fraud allegations in the days leading up to the general election and on the May 5 polling day itself and how the Malaysian government is using a crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly to suppress these details from reaching the international community.
SUARAM was however encouraged to learn that the Malaysian government has extended an invitation for a visit to the UN Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly Mr Maina Kiai and SUARAM will now mobilize civil society to urge the Malaysian government to provide firm dates in the near future for such a mission.