Aquino urged to defend democracy

12 November 2015

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Philippine Daily Inquirer

BE a champion of democracy in Asia, a Malaysian human rights leader called on President Benigno Aquino.

Tian Chua, who made the call, is also vice president of jailed Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party.

He is in the Philippines along with Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah as part of their tour to lobby leaders and friends to support the call for Anwar’s immediate release so he can undergo medical treatment due to serious #124muscle tear in the right shoulder.

Early this year, Malaysia’s highest court found Anwar guilty of sodomising a former political aide.

International critics including the United States slammed the conviction, believing it is part of Malaysia’s crackdown against the opposition.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently found that Anwar is being held illegally and in violation of international law.

“For a long time, especially when Anwar was leading the opposition coalition, our position has been that the government is abusing religious norms to politically persecute those who present the biggest challenge to the government. So, through the findings by the Interparliamentary unit, world leaders and the UN, it proves it really justifies our position that Anwar is innocent, that he has been tried in a politically motivated exercise,” Nurul said.

Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada joined the call for the immediate release of Anwar who, he said, is a personal friend.

When asked if President Aquino has expressed support for their call, Tian said: “We respect the president’s position on being a member of Asean and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of another country.

“However, we believe the president shares a common experience with Nurul’s family. I think he definitely, privately sympathises with the family of Anwar Ibrahim and we were expecting that being president, he should #124be the champion of democracy of this region,” Tian said.

“And being an outgoing president, we hope he can take courage in reminding [Malaysian] Prime Minister Najib [Razak], his counterpart, that Asean as a region must grow in advancing human rights. This is #124our greatest hope. I believe he has the humility and understanding to #124do the right thing. Our #124trip will not be in vain,” Tian said.

 

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