Open Letter to the Prime minister

Press release

Mr. Prime Minister,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) wishes to express its serious concern regarding the deteriorating conditions of the six reformist activists currently detained at the Kamunting Detention Center under the Internal Security Act (ISA). The six detainees, Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor, Tian Chua, Lokman Noor Adam, Saari Sungib, Hishamuddin Rais, and Badrul Amin Bahron, were arrested on April 10, 2001.

On 10 April 2002, the first anniversary of their arrest, the detainees initiated a hunger strike. The FIDH fears for the physical and mental health of the detainees. The refusal of food, and briefly water, by the detainees follows more than a year of detention under precarious conditions reportedly including sleep deprivation, round-the-clock-interrogation, and threats of bodily harm used to extract confessions. Indeed, since the start of the hunger strike, at least one of the detainees, Dr. Badrul Amin Bahron, is reported to be in critical condition. Although he has spent time in the prison infirmary, he has been denied access to the hospital and to a doctor of his choice. The poor physical condition of the prisoners and their inability to receive immediate access to independent medical assistance, legal representation, the restrictions imposed on contact with their families, the inability to get access to their medical records, is of great concern to the FIDH. The FIDH also vigorously condemns the harassment inflicted on family members and supporters of the six activists.

The FIDH calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the six activists in the absence of valid legal charges. If such charges exist, the FIDH asks that the detainees be brought before an impartial and competent tribunal and receive access to legal representation. The FIDH demands that the detainees receive appropriate medical care and admittance to independent medical institutions.

The FIDH is extremely concerned to learn that on 18 April 2002, 14 other individuals have been arrested for supposed violations of the ISA.

The FIDH strongly and unequivocally condemns Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, which allows for arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, and interrogation without access to legal council. It represents a flagrant violation of international human rights standards. Consequently, the FIDH calls on the Malaysian authorities to abolish the ISA and end the repression of political dissent in Malaysia.

In addition, the FIDH calls on the Malaysian government to ratify the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention Against Torture.

The FIDH requests the Malaysian authorities to act in accordance with international human rights standards which guarantee freedom of expression and respect for the physical integrity of all individuals.

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