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Malaysia

    July 20, 2017

    The Malaysian authorities must immediately release a distinguished Bangladeshi human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience and allow him to speak at and participate in a conference on the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    The Malaysian authorities at Kuala Lumpur airport detained Adilur Rahman Khan, the Secretary of Odhikar, a leading Bangladeshi human rights organization, this morning as he arrived in the country to speak at a conference on the death penalty.

    “The Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Adilur Rahman Khan and allow him to participate in and speak at the conference,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “There is no justification for detaining him whatsoever. It is an outrage that a human rights activist cannot even travel freely to speak on a key human rights issue. Moreover, we understand that he still has not been given access to legal advice and is at risk of being deported.”

    June 23, 2017
    Malaysia end the targeting of members of the transgender community

     

    Human rights defender and lawyer Siti Kasim has been charged with “obstruction” in connection with a raid on a transgender event held in April 2016. She could face up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of RM10, 000 (USD 2,331) or both, if convicted.

     

    On 3 April 2016, the Federal Territories Islamic Department (JAWI) carried out a raid on a private transgender beauty pageant. While pageants are generally prohibited for Muslim women under religious laws, the state officials specifically targeted members of the transgender community.

    May 12, 2017

    Responding to the extradition of three Turkish men suspected of links to Turkey’s Gülen movement, who had been arbitrarily detained under SOSMA, Malaysia’s draconian security law, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said:

    “By sending these three men suspected of links to Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey, the Malaysian authorities have put their liberty and well-being at risk. They have already suffered a harrowing ordeal, being arbitrarily detained and held incommunicado. Now, they have been extradited to Turkey, where they could face arbitrary detention, unfair trial and a real risk of torture.”

    Background

    Turgay Karaman, Ismet Ozcelik and Ihsan Aslan had been arrested and detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA). The Malaysian authorities said they were being investigated under Section 130J of the Penal Code (read together with SOSMA) for allegedly soliciting, giving support to terrorist groups or for the commission of terrorist acts.

    February 10, 2017

    On the second anniversary of the politically-motivated conviction of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Amnesty International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

    “The ongoing political persecution of Anwar Ibrahim is symbolic of Malaysia’s crackdown on human rights. He has unjustifiably spent the past two years behind bars on trumped-up charges intended to silence him and end his political career,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    At the last elections, the ruling coalition lost the popular vote but managed to cling on to power. Anwar Ibrahim’s five-year imprisonment makes it impossible for him to contest the next general elections, due to take place by 2018.

    Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction was a major blow to human rights as the Malaysian government escalated its attacks on civil society.

    December 14, 2016

    After Malaysia’s Federal Court today ruled on former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal against his recent “sodomy” conviction and five-year sentence, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The decision to continue the incarceration of Anwar Ibrahim is a final blow to his bid for freedom and raises concerns about the Malaysian judiciary’s independence from political interference.

    “The politically motivated persecution of Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted on trumped up charges of ‘sodomy’ after an unfair trial, is part of a wider crackdown by the Malaysian government to brazenly silence government critics and dissidents at all costs.

    “Anwar Ibrahim is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and he must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    November 27, 2016

    “The arrest of Zunar is an outrage. The charge of sedition against him must be dropped immediately and he must be unconditionally released from detention. What we are seeing is the choking of dissent in Malaysia, where repressive laws are being used to silence and punish peaceful voices under the guise of national security,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Zunar’s arrest comes as Maria Chin Abdullah, the chair of the Bersih movement, unjustifiably remains in solitary confinement. She was arrested under repressive national security laws on 18 November, a day before thousands of activists took to the streets to peacefully demand electoral reforms and an end to corruption. Maria Chin Abdullah and all other prisoners of conscience should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    Background

    November 18, 2016

    The Malaysian government must immediately end its crackdown on Bersih, a coalition of civil society groups campaigning for electoral reforms and against corruption, and allow civil society to peacefully exercise its human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    A day before a major rally, the Malaysian police raided the offices of Bersih, arresting the chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and secretary Mandeep Singh. They also seized computers, mobile phones and documents. Activists from other sections of Malaysian civil society were also arrested.

    “These arrests are the latest in a series of crude and heavy-handed attempts to intimidate Malaysian civil society activists and other human rights defenders.  They must be released immediately and unconditionally, and tomorrow’s rally must be allowed to go ahead peacefully,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    October 19, 2016

    The Malaysian authorities must immediately lift an arbitrary travel ban on cartoonist and political activist, Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, (Zunar), that prevented him from leaving the country on 17 October 2016.

    Zunar, an outspoken critic of the government, is facing nine sedition charges. This is in relation to tweets he made following a Federal court ruling on 10 February 2015, which upheld the conviction and five-year prison sentence of former opposition leader and prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim for “sodomy.”

    On 17 October 2016, Zunar was travelling to Singapore to attend a private forum via Kuala Lumpur International Airport. At the immigration check at the airport he was stopped by the immigration officer who informed him that the police had instructed them to stop him from travelling. However, up to now, there has been no date set for Zunar’s trial and he has been previously allowed to travel freely, even after being charged. A valid, lawful reason must be provided by the Malaysian authorities for this ban to be in place.  To date, there has been no explanation and no reasons provided for this action.

    August 25, 2016

    The conviction of Mohammed Fakhrulrazi Mohammed Mokhtar for sedition should be quashed immediately, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. Malaysia’s sedition law is a crude colonial-era instrument designed to silence dissent. It has no place in a modern rights-respecting society and should be repealed immediately,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

     

    Background

    Mohammed Fakhrulrazi Mohammed Mokhtar, the vice-chief of the Parti Amanah Negara Youth, was found guilty of sedition by the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur and sentenced to eight months in prison.

    Fakrhulrazi, also known as Ustaz Fakhrulrazi, was charged with sedition for calling for the release of opposition politician and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim, at a rally in February 2015.

    The charge, under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine of RM5,000.

     

    August 01, 2016
    The National Security Council Act that comes into force today empowers the Malaysian authorities to trample over human rights and act with impunity, Amnesty International said today. “With this new law, the government now has spurned checks and assumed potentially abusive powers,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. The new law will grant the Malaysian authorities the power to carry out warrantless arrests, search and seize property, and impose curfews at will. One provision, Section 18, allows the Prime Minister to arbitrarily designate any area in the country a “security area,” if he deems it a potential source of “harm.” “There is good reason to fear that the Act will be yet another tool in the hands of the government to crack down on peaceful protests under the guise of national security,” said Josef Benedict. The special status given to “security areas” could worsen Malaysia’s track record of custodial deaths and police brutality.
    May 27, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT, 28 May 2016

           Rohingya refugees are being kept in indefinite detention        Failure to properly investigate criminal gangs responsible for abuse

    Hundreds of refugees who survived the 2015 boat crisis in South East Asia have been locked up in poor conditions in Malaysia ever since, Amnesty International said, following a visit to the country to investigate the fate of people one year on.

     

    After harrowing footage of desperate refugees and migrants stranded at sea was beamed around the world last May, Malaysia agreed to accept 1,100 people. Almost 400 of those were identified as Rohingya refugees – people fleeing persecution in Myanmar. One year on, the majority of the Rohingya remain in Malaysia’s Belantik detention centre.

     

    May 18, 2016

     

    The Malaysian government’s plans to revoke or refuse to issue passports to critics is yet another demonstration of increasing intolerance in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Datuk Sakib Kusmi, the Immigration Department’s Director-General, is quoted as saying that critics of the government could be denied the right to travel for three years.

    “A travel ban on critics will mark a dangerous escalation in the government’s ongoing crackdown on dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific. “The right to freedom of speech is a key human right which the Malaysian people deserve to enjoy just like any other people.”

    April 14, 2016

    The conviction of prominent lawyer and human rights activist Haris Ibrahim of sedition highlights Malaysia's increasing determination to crush any form of dissent in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Today’s conviction of human rights activist Haris Ibrahim is the latest travesty in a series of politically motivated actions to silence dissent in Malaysia. The Malaysian government must halt its prosecution of human rights defenders who have called for peaceful protests and electoral reforms. If imprisoned, Amnesty International would consider Ibrahim a Prisoner of Conscience,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South-East Asia.

    March 25, 2016

    After Malaysia hanged three men for murder on Friday morning local time, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The execution of these three men is a deeply sad development and an unspeakably brutal act that brings shame upon Malaysia. Neither the family nor the prisoners had a clue that their last two appeals had been rejected and the notification of the imminent executions barely allowed the families time for a final visit.

    “The fact that these state killings come at a time when the Malaysian government is actively discussing abolition of the mandatory death penalty makes them all the more shocking and disturbing.”

    “These hangings are a sickening reminder that the Malaysian authorities must redouble their efforts to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty.”

    Despite international outcry, Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu and brothers Ramesh Jayakumar and Sasivarnam Jayakumar were executed at Taiping Prison in northern Malaysia at 5:30am on Friday.

    Background

    March 24, 2016
    UPDATE 24 MARCH: Three men to be hanged on Friday In addition to Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu's scheduled execution on Friday, Amnesty International has since learned that his two co-defendants – brothers J Ramesh and Sasivarnam A/ L Jayakumar – are also set to be hanged tomorrow for murder. When Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother went this morning to Taiping Prison to visit her son for the last time and make arrangements for his funeral, family members of his co-defendants were also present for the same reason. All three prisoners were sentenced to the mandatory death penalty, which gives no discretion to judges to decide on whether the circumstances of a case warrant hanging or imprisonment as punishment.   Following this development, Shamini Darshni, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said:

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