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Malaysia

    April 03, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the Malaysian lawmakers approved the “fake news” bill on Monday, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The Malaysian lawmakers didn’t wait long to pass a vaguely worded, catch-all bill that can be – and will be – used to crack down on peaceful government critics. This bill cynically uses new Twitter jargon to pursue an old policy: criminalising free speech.”

    “The law which could be implemented within days doesn’t only impose tough penalties and gives arbitrary arrest powers for police but also allows charges to be brought against other countries’ citizens. It’s an overt assault on freedom of expression.”

    Background

    On Monday, the Lower House of the Malaysian parliament has approved a bill criminalizing “fake news”, which sets out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) and a maximum six years in jail or both. The bill will be debated in the Senate as early as by Thursday this week. Once passed by both houses, the law may come into force within days.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    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.

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