APPEAL FOR THE RELEASE OF SIX LEADERS OF THE REFORMASI MOVEMENT

30/05/2003
Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urges the Malaysian authorities to release six activists of the Reformasi movement, following the expiry of their two-year detention order on 1st June 2003.

These activists are: Tian Chua, vice-president of the Keadilan Party (National Party of Justice), labor and student activist, Saari Sungib, a leader of the Keadilan Party, Mohamed Ezam Mohd Noor, Youth Chief of the Keadilan Party, Hishamuddin Rais, film-director, Lokman Adam, Youth leader of the Keadilan Party, and Dr. Badrulamin Bahron, Central Committee member of the Keadilan Party.

All of them were arrested in April 2001, a few days before the anniversary of the conviction of former Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and have been detained under the Internal Security Act (1960). This law contravenes the main international human rights instruments and allows for an unlimited period of detention, without trial, for supposedly undermining national security.

In September 2002, the Federal Court unanimously held that the first period of their detention was illegal and made in "bad faith". The National Human Rights Commission also called for their release, as did the Advisory Board of the ISA. Yet the six opponents remain detained in the Kamunting detention camp and are subjects to recurrent acts of intimidation.

Their detention order expires on 1st June 2003. However, according to the provisions of the ISA, the Home Minister can decide whether to release the prisoners or to extend their detention order for a period of two years.

The FIDH considers that their detention does in no way serve the purpose of protecting "national security" but aims merely at stifling legitimate political opponents.

The FIDH urges the Malaysian authorities to release the six detainees and, more generally, to conform with the main international human rights instruments.

Finally, the FIDH asks the representatives of the international community to press Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, Malaysian Prime Minister, who is invited as the president of the non-aligned movement at the G8 meeting in Evian, to comply with this request.

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