Malaysian police have arrested opposition political leaders and pro-reform activist during last month. Until today, all ten activists are being held under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows the authorities to detain people indefinitely without trial.
In order to draw your attention and solidarity action, we are forwarding this following Internet campaign on this incident. We also urge you to write protest letter to demand for the release of all those detained and to express your solidarity.
Urgent Appeal Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission
Internet campaign for the release of pro-reform activists detained under ISA
As a concerned Malaysian, I request your urgent intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION
In an ongoing crackdown of legitimate dissidents in Malaysia, the police have confirmed that the following 10 persons have been arrested under the draconian International Security Act (ISA), which provided for detention without trial;
1) Tian Chua, Parti Keadilan Nasional (National Justice Party), vice-president
2) Mohamad Ezam Mohd. Nor, Parti Keadilan Nasional, Youth president
3) N Gobala Krishnan, Parti Keadilan Nasional, Youth secretary-general
4) Saari Sungib, ‘people’s Memorandum’, organizing committee chairperson
5) Hishamuddin Rais, media columnist and social activist
6) Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the international Free Anwar Campaign, director.
7) Abdul Ghani Harun, Parti Keadilan Nasional, Youth central committee member
8) Dr. Badrul Amin Baharom, Keadilan member and social activist
9) Lokman Adam, Keadialan Youth central committee member
10) Badaruddin Ismail, An activist for the human rights group, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
Those detained were arrested without warrant and denied access to their lawyer and families. Under the ISA, the police are not required to produce those detained before magistrates. Until now, police have not released any official information regarding the whereabouts of the detainees. The request by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to visit those detained has received no response from the authorities.
Subsequently, five of the detainees, Keadilan vice-president Tian Chua, Youth leaders Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor and Saari Sungib, Free Anwar Campaign (Freeanwar.com) web master Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin and social activist-cum-malaysiakini columnist Hishamuddin Rais filed their habeas corpus application.
On 25 April 2001, the High Court turned down the habeas corpus applications on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter as the arrests and the detention were done in accordance with powers vested in the police through the ISA. The court added that their detentions were valid in the interest of national security. The judgement effectively denied those detained any legal avenue for judicial review.
Throughout the history of ISA, detainees have been tortured, questioned and forced to make statements. There is a genuine concern for the well being and safety of those detained.
The detainees are unable to defend themselves as the authority refuses to provide them with the evidence against them.
According to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, anyone detained on a criminal charge shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.
BACKGROUND IFORMATION – The Internal Security Act Section 73 (1) Internal Security Act:
\”Any police officer may without warrant arrest and detain pending enquiries any person in respect of whom he has reason to believe –
a. that there are grounds which would justify his detention under section 8 and
b. that he has acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof.\”
Sect 8. Power to order detention or restriction of persons.
\”(i) If the Minister is satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to the maintenance of essential services therein or the economic life thereof, he may make an order (hereinafter referred to as a detention order) directing that person be detained for any period not exceeding two years.\”
– Why the ISA is a Draconian Law
Since 1960 when the Act was enacted, thousands of people including trade unionists, student leaders, labor activists, political activists, religious groups, academicians, NGO activists have been arrested under the ISA. The ISA has been consistently used against people who criticize the government and defend human rights. It has been the most convenient tool for the state to suppress opposition and open debate. The Act is an instrument maintained by the ruling government to control public life and civil society.
The ISA provides for ‘preventative detention’ without trial for an indefinite period. The ISA violates fundamental rights and goes against the principles of justice and undermines the rule of law.
The ISA goes against the right of a person to defend himself in an open and fair trial. The person can be incarcerated up to 60 days of interrogation without access to lawyers.
A person detained under the ISA is held incommunicado, with no access to the outside world. Furthermore, lawyers and family are not allowed access to the detainee.
Torture goes concurrently with ISA detention. Former detainees have testified to being subjected to physical and psychological torture. This may include one or more of the following: physical assault, sleep deprivation, round-the-clock interrogation, threats of bodily harm to family members, including detainees’ children. Prolonged torture and deprivation have led to detainees signing state-manufactured ‘confessions’ under severe duress.
In the last two years, police also conducted similar operations, resulting in mass arrests and police brutality.
14th until 17th April, 1999 (Anwar’s sentencing) – 117 were arrested
14th until 15th April, 2000 – 54 people were arrested
Please write to the Malaysia authorities urging them to
1. ensure the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees;
2. order the immediate release of the detainees if they are being held in detention without any valid charges or, in the event they have been charged, bring them immediately before a competent and impartial tribunal and guarantee their full procedural rights and their right to legal counsel at all times, in conformity with the international human rights standards;
3. derogate its legislation regarding detention without trial;
4. allow lawyer and families members of detainees to visit them to ensure their well-being and safety are not threatened;
5. guarantee all human rights and fundamental freedoms and conform their actions to international human rights standards.
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
1. The Prime Minister of Malaysia
Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
Prime Minister’s Office
Federal Government Administration Center
Fax: +603 8888 3444
2. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs
Dato’ Seri Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs
3. Minister in Prime Minister Department
Dato’ Rais bin Yatim
Minister in Prime Minister Department
4. The Chairperson of the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission
Ybhg Tan Sri Musa Hitam
National Human Rights Commission,
29th. Floor, Menara Tun Razak,
Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur
Fax: +603 2612 5620
Tel: +603 2612 5600
5. Inspector General of Police
Tan Sri Norian Mai
Headquarters of Royal Police of Malaysia
50560 Kuala Lumpur
Fax: +603 2273 1326
And send copies to
United Nations Room S-3800,
New York NY 10017
Fax: 1-212-963 4879/2155
Mrs. Mary Robinson
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des nations
8-14 avenue de la Paix,
CH 1211 Geneve,
Fax: (41) 229170213
or to the Malaysia embassy of your country.
Please contact the Urgent Appeals coordinator if you require more
information or wish to report human rights violations.
AHRC Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
Unit D, 7th Floor, Mongkok Commercial Centre,
16 – 16B Argyle Street, Kowloon, HONGKONG
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339
Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367