UPDATE (MALAYSIA): Call for Red Cross to aid hunger striking ISA detainees


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-25-2002
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of expression, Human rights defenders, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Legislation, Right to health, Right to remedy,

Dear Friends

We are asking for your urgent action in the light of dramatic developments in the struggle of the ISA detainees for proper medical and legal treatment. The 8-day long hunger strike and several days without water has seriously weakened the six detainees to the point where two have been put on intravenous drip for rehydration and the others have had to also take water and require further medical attention. But they are all continuing their hunger strike. Tian Chua, one of the detainees has written to their many supporters calling on them to end the solidarity hunger strike which has caused a number of the supporters to collapse.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has visited the prison and called for the detainees to be treated by independent doctors, as the detainees have lost confidence in the prison doctors. However, the authorities have still refused to admit any of them to hospital. Meanwhile there has not been a word about the hunger strike from Prime Minister Mahatir nor the Home Affairs Minister, who appear content to let the political detainees die of hunger before giving proper medical attention or other basic human rights. The state-controlled media in Malaysia have also had a virtual media blackout of the events. Astonishingly, the authorities have gone further today to arrest the wife of another ISA detainee – the first woman to be arrested under the ISA during the recent crackdown on civil society in Malaysia.

AHRC has written to the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson and Javier Solana (Secretary General of European Union) calling for humanitarian intervention to meet the reasonable demands of the detainees to be provided with hospital care when needed and to be brought before a court after more than a year under detention without trial. We urge you also to write similar letters in support of the detainees. AHRC’s letter and the email and fax numbers are included for you to do this urgently.

We also include below Tian Chua’s letter, the press statement of SUHAKAM, a report on the crisis published in the Melbourne Age newspaper, and the latest report of SUARAM.

Urgent Appeals Desk

Asian Human Rights Commission



Head of Delegation,

Regional ICRC Delegation (Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan)

Unit No. 50-6-5, Level 6

Wisma UOA Damansara

No. 50 Jalan Dungun

Damansara Heights,



Email: kuala_lumpur.kua@icrc.org

16th April, 2002

RE: Humanitarian Appeal for Intervention Regarding the Deteriorating Health of ISA Detainees in Malaysia

Dear Sir / Madam

You may be aware of the hunger strike of the political prisoners [Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor, Hishamuddin Rais, Chua Tian Chang, Saari Sungib, Badrulamin Bahron and Lokman Noor Adam] currently detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Kamunting Detention Centre, Malaysia. After being detained for one year without trial and having submitted numerous unanswered petitions to the government, they have finally resorted to a hunger strike. The strike was precipitated on April 10 when one of the six, Badrulamin Bahron, who was bed-ridden with high blood pressure, was refused hospitalisation. Now, after six days of refusing food and now refusing even to take water, their health has deteriorated, with the detainees suffering migraine attacks and debilitating weight and fluid loss. Their demand is to be tried in an open court or released, and also for proper medical treatment for Badrulamin Bahron and another political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Premier.

We have received reports that their condition is deteriorating and some may not survive for long. The Malaysian Government has not taken any step to dialogue with the detainees nor to pay heed to their requests.

These political prisoners are kept under the ISA only because they have engaged in legitimate protest. All their actions have been with the legal democratic framework, and none is accused of any violent activity. They are in kept in prison without trial purely to intimidate people from participating in legitimate democratic activities.

We urge you to urgently intervene in this matter, on an humanitarian basis and in defense of human rights. Your speedy intervention may help to save lives and bring comfort to the families of these political prisoners.


Basil Fernando

Executive Director



Head of Delegation,

Regional ICRC Delegation (Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan)

Unit No. 50-6-5, Level 6

Wisma UOA Damansara

No. 50 Jalan Dungun

Damansara Heights,



Email: kuala_lumpur.kua@icrc.org

Mr. Kofi Annan


United Nations Room S-3800

New York NY 10017


Fax: +1 212 963 4879/2155

E-mail: ecu@un.org

Mr. Javier Solana

Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union

15 rue de l’Association

1000 Brussels


Tel: +32 2 500-4412

Fax: +32 2 500- 4470

E-mail: ueo.secretariatgeneral@skynet.be

Mrs. Mary Robinson

High Commissioner for Human Rights.


8-14 Avenue de la Paix

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 9012

E-mail: webadmin.hchr@unog.ch



Latest events

By 4pm Monday (15/4), the authorities remained adamant for not bringing Badrul to hospital. We started to take water at 4.30 pm. Throughout yesterday, the officers repeatedly come to persuade us to stop the hunger strike. We reiterate our same stand.

By 11.30 pm last night, Badrul began to experience severe cramp and pain. We called the warders for emergency. The officers came at 12.00 am, took him out. They claimed that he would be taken to hospital. An hour later, they came to take Hisham, who is also suffering. Both were ‘admitted?for emergency treatment at midnight.

However we found out this morning that they were only brought to the inhouse clinic. Doctor was brought into the camp. Badrul was given pain killing injection, blood sample taken and other emergency measures. At one stage, he was nearly coma. The bottom line however is that the authorities refused to take him to hospital. Badrul and Hisham’s conditions stabilized this morning. Badrul is still in pain but he struggles to meet his wife at 11.45am.

We are quite upset with the authorities for letting his health deteriorated before action taken. Doctors were also pressured to tell us that Badrul and Hisham health conditons are still under controlled and need not to be warded.

However, we have resumed drinking water at 11.40 am after discussion collectively. Badrul and Hisham did not want all of us to damage our health too much. But hunger strike will still going (We have not drank for 43 ?44 hours).

In the last few days, Dr Mahathir and Abdullah Badawi have been ignoring our appeal. They refused even to respond to our acton. We call on all Human Right supporters and journalists to continue questioning the governement leaders. We demand their commitment to restore our rights. We appreciate our friends who are on solidarity hunger strike outside. We also heard that Anwar Ibrahim too has joined the hunger strike from Sg. Buloh prison.

We wish to thank all these support. The spirit of solidarity moved us deeply. However we hereby urge our solidarity hunger strikers to end their strike today. Our appeal goes to Anwar Ibrahim who is agonizing with his own illness. Please end your support action with a sense of victory!

We urge all of you to mobilize to come to Kamunting on Sunday (21 April2002). Let’s gather at the Detention to show the people’s strength to demand the ending of this inhumane ISA!

Reformasi! Hidup Rakyat! Hidup Rakyat!

(Long Live the People’s Reform Movement)

Tian, 17 April 2002




SUHAKAM has received several memoranda relating to the conditions of detention of the Reformasi activists detained under the Internal Security Act at Kamunting Detention Centre. The latest memorandum was received on Wednesday lOth April 2002.

SUHAKAM was concerned to learn from the memorandum that the six Reformasi activists had begun a hunger strike in connection with their arrest and continued detention. Consequently, a delegation from SUHAKAM led by Commissioner Professor Datuk Hamdan bin Adnan visited the Kamunting Detention Centre on 13th Apri1 2002.

During the visit, the SUHAKAM delegation was informed of the detainees’ concerns, in particular, the medical condition of one of them whom they believed was in need of hospitalization. The delegation witnessed an angry exchange between a detainee and a medical officer from the Taiping Hospital and noted the general tense situation between the detainees and the doctor.

SUHAKAM acknowledges that the detainees are being attended to by government doctors but notes that the detainees have lost confidence in these doctors and wish to be examined by independent doctors.

SUHAKAM is of the view that in the circumstances of the on-going hunger strike, the authorities in charge of the detention center should not restrict access of doctors who have the trust and confidence of the detainees and their families. SUHAKAM is also of the view that lawyers of the detainees should not be denied access to them.

The situation that has arisen falls within the mandate of SUHAKAM as provided under the Human Rights Commission Act. Accordingly, in the exercise of its powers under section 12 of the Act, SUHAKAM will conduct an inquiry into the complaints raised in the memorandum of lOth April 2002 and all previous memoranda submitted in relation to the six Reformasi detainees.

By authority of SUHAKAM



Kuala Lumpur 17 April, 2002




18 April 2002

At 10.45 pm last night, Suaram learnt of yet another ISA arrest, this time on Sejahtratul Dursina @ Chomel Mohamad, the wife of Yazid Sufaat, who is currently, serving a two-year detention term for alleged suspicions into links with regional terrorist movements.

Chomel becomes the first woman to be detained under the ISA since it was unleashed to capture alleged militants on Malaysian shores, especially after the events of September 11th.

The arrest came hardly six hours after national Human Rights Commission, SUHAKAM, issued a media statement expressing concerns on the detention of six political detainees, arrested since April of 2001 and who are currently on a hunger strike, demanding their release. We are aggrieved that the home ministry has chosen to ignore the situation, and by default has illuminated the fact that they would rather see them to their graves.

SUARAM regrets the spiraling increase on the use of detention without trial by the government on Malaysians, an increasingly fashionable act in the name of national security, and worse still, emulated and encouraged around the world after September 11th.

We worry over the implications of the arrest of Chomel on the family, as now both husband and wife remain incarcerated indefinitely, with no access to a court trial. Their arrests will without doubt have a crippling effect on their four children.

We call upon all ISA detainees to be released unconditionally or appropriately charged in an open court. Once again we reiterate our position that the ISA is cruel and inhumane, and call for the act to be repealed immediately.

Released By

Cynthia Gabriel

Executive Director



Malaysian blackout on hunger strike

By Mark Baker, Asia Editor, The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

April 18 2002

A hunger strike by Malaysian opposition leaders protesting against political detention without trial has entered a second week, with Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government maintaining a virtual blackout in the state-controlled media.

Five opposition activists, jailed for a year under the infamous Internal

Security Act, have not eaten since Tuesday last week and have refused water since Sunday.

Eleven other prominent opposition figures, camped outside an office building in Kuala Lumpur, have taken only water for the past eight days. Four others who started the protest were forced to abandon it after collapsing.

Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence after being convicted on discredited sex and corruption charges, joined the hunger strike on Sunday but began taking fluids again on Tuesday after medical warnings.

\”We are weak, dehydrated and we have lost a lot of weight, but we are determined to keep this up,\” said Raja Petra Kamarudin, a former security act detainee who is one of the activists camped outside the headquarters of the opposition.

\”We know the five inside Kamunting Prison are now in poor condition, but we don’t know how bad they are at this stage,\” he said.

The hunger strike marks the first anniversary of the arrest of 10 opposition supporters accused of plotting the violent overthrow of the government. Several were later released, but most have been ordered detained for two years by the government, which has produced no evidence against them.

Mr Petra said the protest was also aimed at drawing attention to next

month’s visit to Washington by Dr Mahathir, who is expected to be feted by President George Bush for his backing of the war against terrorism.

Before September 11, Mr Bush had refused to meet Dr Mahathir, largely in response to the political crackdown that followed the 1998 sacking of Mr Anwar, whose subsequent trial has been dismissed as politically motivated by the US State Department.

During a visit to Kuala Lumpur earlier this week, US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly did not raise the Anwar case in talks with Dr Mahathir but later said he hoped appeal hearings would be handled \”fairly and transparently\”.

The government has not commented on the protests, which have been largely

ignored by the media. The state-run Bernama news agency carried a small item yesterday reporting, wrongly, that Mr Anwar had abandoned his hunger strike.

Family members, who visited Mr Anwar on Tuesday, said he had resumed taking water and milk with his medication after warnings from doctors, but had eaten nothing since Sunday. He is confined to a wheelchair and wears a neck brace because of a debilitating back injury he suffered since being beaten by Malaysia’s former police chief.


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