Urgent resolution on the on-going crackdown by the Malaysian government against Malaysians

Press release

38th FIDH Congress
23-27 May 2013
Istanbul (Turkey)

Proposed by Suaram

The members leagues of FIDH condemn the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and ordinary members of the public in Malaysia that began on 18 May 2013 and has escalated just as FIDH is holding its 38th Congress in Istanbul. This crackdown is apparently aimed at stamping out opposition to election fraud and violence during the recent general election. The crackdown it has so far, featured murder, violence, arbitrary arrests, hate speech, disruption of peaceful assemblies and censorship on media targeting human rights defenders and opposition leaders, as well as selective deployment of laws that contravene international human rights standards.
Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (“GE13”) concluded on 5th May 2013. Arguably the most intense election in Malaysian history, the election period saw heightened political violence namely bomb blasts at campaign sites, a murder of an Opposition campaigner and various forms of harassment of human rights defenders and opposition leaders.
The outcome of the GE13 was marred with electoral fraud, phantom voters, irregularities of the electoral roll and the indelible ink which was not indelible. FIDH notes that opposition parties are in the midst of filing 27 Election Petitions to the High Court challenging the results and paving way for by-elections in the constituents and affected seats. This challenge is taking place in tandem with public denunciations of the Election Commission’s (“EC”) for its contradictory responses to legitimate complaints of vote rigging which comprised both blanket denials AND mild promises to investigate complaints.
The crackdown on legitimate dissent
The authorities have used repressive legislations namely the Sedition Act 1948, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Penal Code and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as tools to suppress legitimate dissent of voters, human rights defenders, and leaders of the Opposition while government-friendly individuals remain unscathed despite their racist and seditious statements.
Sedition Act 1948
The Sedition Act 1948 was invoked against a student activist, Adam Adli, 24 for having allegedly uttered seditious words under Section 4(1) (b) of the Act on 23rd May 2013. On 23/5/2013, social movement Anything But UMNO’s Haris Ibrahim, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (“PKR”) MP for Batu, Chua Tian Chang and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s (“PAS”) MP for Batu Berendam, Tamrin Ghafar were arrested under the Sedition Act 1948 for alleged breach of the Act.
Peaceful Assemby Act 2012
On 14/5/2013, PKR’s Seri Setia Assemblyperson Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and PKR’s MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli were questioned by the police under the unconstitutional Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 under Section 9(1) for failing to provide a 10-day notice required under the Act. Nik Nazmi was charged under the Act on 17/5/2013.
Penal Code
On 22/5/2012, 18 individuals who attended a nightly candle light vigil for Adam Adli were arrested for allegedly violating Section 143 of the Penal Code for participation in an illegal assembly. The police had denied the arrested persons’ right to legal counsel provided for under the S28A of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution. After a lengthy protest by the lawyers, they were only allowed to provide legal advice to their clients. However, they were not allowed to represent their clients during police questioning.
Democratic Action Party’s (“DAP”) MP for Serdang, Ong Kian Meng was subjected to questioning under Section 505 of the Penal Code for allegedly uttering statements tantamount to public mischief.
Even DAP’s adviser and founding member, Dr Chen Man Hin was investigated over an email sent in 2012 which had been alleged to be linked to the Malaysia’s version of “Arab Spring”.
Violence from pro-Barisan Nasional groups
Violence erupted in Penang on at least two occasions. On 9th May 2013, a group of multiracial students intending to hand over an anti-racism memorandum was attacked by a group of racist mobs hurling racist and derogatory remarks to them. Similarly, supporters who had held a candle light vigil for Adam Adli were physically attacked by an unknown group of mobs who had informed the police and falsely accused the supporters for possessing weapons including hand guns. On 22nd May, SUARAM Penang’s Sean Ho and student group DEMA’s Saw Jia Ying were hit by motorcycles after being chased by the bike gang for some distance. Many supporters suffered bodily injuries.
Seditious statements
Seditious statements from public officials continue to be tolerated by the government. On 12/5/2013, former Court of Appeal Judge Mohd Noor Abdullah (now a commissioner for the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission) had warned that the Chinese Malaysians must be prepared for a backlash from the Malay community for their betrayal in the recently concluded GE13. He had made the seditious statements in an event organised by UiTM Malaysia’s Alumni Association and Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (The Coalition of Peninsular Malay Students), titled “GE13 Post- Mortem Muslim Leadership and Survival”.
He stated, “…The Chinese betrayal towards the Malay’s hand of friendship – that is true. Because they plotted to seize political power even though they already have economic power… for the Malays, the taboo is to be betrayed, because when they are betrayed, they will react and when they react, their dendam kesumat tidak tersudah-sudah (wrath will be endless)…When Malays are betrayed, there is a backlash and the Chinese must bear the consequences of a Malay backlash…” He had reportedly suggested that key sectors such as education, civil service and businesses must have a two third allocation (67%) for the Malays to be taken up at any time. He added that the terms “Chinese” and “Indian” should be replaced with Non-Malays as they are just our (Malay) neighbours and they had just come to stay ( i.e they are not really Malaysian). The silence and inactions from the government against the former judge were unacceptable as the statements were clearly racist and seditious. The approach was clearly different than those undertaken by the police against Adam Adli, Haris Ibrahim, Chua Tian Chang and Tamrin Ghafar.
Censorship and Seizing of Publications
Thousands of copies of PAS’ Harakah, PKR’s Suara Keadilan and DAP’s The Rocket were seized in several States. Officers from the Home Ministry had not only seized the publications but also raided the vendors’ stalls. In a statement by the Home Minister, he had alleged that the Opposition’s publications had violated Section 5 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 namely for distribution to non-party members. The publications were never subjected to such condition in the past and the recent revelation from the Home Minister appears to be another attempt to restrict freedom of information. In contrast to Utusan Malaysia’s seditious 7/5/2013 front page article titled “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?” (What else do the Chinese want?) and Prime Minister Najib’s comments which had likened the outcome of the election to a “Chinese Tsunami” (that together implied that the country was hostage to unreasonable demands of the ethnic Chinese) , the newspaper was not seized or banned. To date, neither Utusan Malaysia nor Prime Minister Najib have apologised and retracted their statements.
Actions requested:
We therefore urge the Malaysian authorities to perform the following:-
1. To abolish the Sedition Act 1948 and drop all charges against Adam Adli and immediately release Chua Tian Chang, Haris Ibrahim and Tamrin Ghafar;
2. To Abolish the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and drop all charges against Nik Nazmi and end all investigations against individuals alleged to have violated the Act;
3. To immediately cease invoking repressive legislations to suppress legitimate dissent;
4. To promote and protect the fundamental rights of individuals and associates to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
5. To promote and protect every individual’s right to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
6. To promote and encourage respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, religion, sex or national origin;
7. To consider that all human beings are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law against any discrimination and against any incitement to discrimination;
8. To acknowledge that discrimination between races is an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations capable of disturbing peace and security among the people and that racial barriers is repugnant to the ideals of any human society;
9. To speedily eliminate racial discrimination in all its form and manifestations in order to promote a society free from all forms of racial segregation and racial discrimination;
10. To comply and uphold the fundamental freedoms enshrined under the Federal Constitution; and
11. To comply and uphold the provisions in the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders1 in particular Articles 5, 6, 9, 10, 11,18 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in particular Articles 2(1)(a)2, 2(1)(b)3 and 4(c)4.
12. To the UN due to review of UPR Malaysia in October 2013- To continue to grant particular attention to the protection of human rights in Malaysia in accordance with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders and follow up on the implementation on the recommendations issued to Malaysia in its Universal Periodic Review in 2009.

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