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Malaysia

    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:
    January 26, 2016

    Malaysia is spiralling into a dark era of repression as the government has launched an unprecedented crackdown through the Sedition Act over the past two years to silence, harass and lock up hundreds of critics, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

    Critical Repression: Freedom of expression under attack in Malaysia shows how the use of the Sedition Act – which gives authorities sweeping powers to target those who oppose them - has skyrocketed since the Barisan Nasional coalition government narrowly won the 2013 general elections, with around 170 sedition cases in that period.

    In 2015 alone, at least 91 individuals were arrested, charged or investigated for sedition – almost five times as many as during the law’s first 50 years of existence.

    “Speaking out in Malaysia is becoming increasingly dangerous. The government has responded to challenges to its authority in the worst possible way, by tightening repression and targeting scores of perceived critics,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Deputy Campaigns Director.

    November 05, 2015

    A Malaysian man sentenced to death in Singapore on the basis of a disputed murder reconstruction remains at imminent risk of execution and must be granted clemency, Amnesty International said after he was given a last-minute reprieve today.

    Kho Jabing, 31, was due to be hanged tomorrow morning despite a lack of clarity about the circumstances of his crime and the fact his death sentence was re-imposed at the final stage in a 3:2 split decision.

    He has been temporarily spared from death to allow the court to consider a last-minute appeal put forward on Kho Jabing's behalf. It is not clear at this stage when the case will be heard.

    “Today’s stay of execution is no doubt a great relief for Kho Jabing and his loved ones, but it is only the first step,” said Josef Benedict, Campaigns Director for South East Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International.

    “The judges made their life-and-death decision despite significant uncertainty over the case and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong must follow up this temporary reprieve by immediately granting him clemency, before it is too late.”

    November 05, 2015

    Malaysian authorities must immediately drop politically motivated charges against one of the country’s best-known cartoonists, who could face a long prison sentence for a series of tweets, Amnesty International said ahead of his trial, which is starting on 6 November.

    Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known by his pen name Zunar, is facing nine charges under Malaysia’s draconian Sedition Act – a colonial-era law the government is using to harass and silence critics. The charges relate to a series of tweets critical of the government that Zunar sent after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed on sodomy charges in February 2015.

    “These charges against Zunar are clearly politically motivated and must be dropped immediately. Zunar has for years highlighted government corruption and repression through his cartoons – this is what he is being punished for,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Campaigns Director.

    “It is absurd that Zunar is facing potentially decades in prison for a series of tweets.”

    November 02, 2015

    Malaysian authorities must halt plans to charge one of the organisers of a peaceful anti-government rally staged in August. These moves are clearly politically motivated and highlights a wider, vindictive push to silence others who took to the streets to voice their opposition, Amnesty International said.

    Police are expected to charge Maria Chin Abdullah, chairperson of the NGO coalition Bersih 2.0, on Tuesday 3 November under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) for failing to give prior notice of at least ten days for a demonstration.

    In late August, Bersih 2.0 organised the Bersih 4 rally when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Malaysia to voice frustration with government corruption and human rights issues.

    “These vindictive charges against Maria Chin Abdullah are clearly politically motivated and should be dropped immediately. The authorities in Malaysia are trying to punish those who voice their opposition peacefully and create an overall climate of fear to deter other activists from doing the same,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Campaigns Director.

    August 04, 2015

    The gathering pace of the Malaysian authorities’ far-reaching crackdown on human rights defenders, the media and opposition politicians in the wake of a corruption scandal allegedly involving Prime Minister Najib Razak is alarming and must end immediately, Amnesty International said.

    “Malaysian authorities have responded to the 1MDB corruption scandal in predictable fashion – instead of genuinely trying to get to the truth of the corruption allegations and sanction those responsible, they have been harassing, silencing and locking up those demanding accountability,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The government’s assault on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must end. Nobody should be arrested or charged simply for asking for transparency in the investigation of the 1MDB scandal or for the peaceful expression of their opinions.”

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