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4 May 2016

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Second International Conference of the World Forum for Muslim Democrats addressed critical issues facing the Muslim world, from the challenges of violence and extremism and refugee crises to Islamophobia and challenges to improve social justice and strengthen the rule of law. Bringing together experts and practitioners from Southeast Asia, Turkey, the Middle East and Europe, the participants offered diverse perspectives of the causes and solutions to these issues, calling for greater engagement, dialogue and participation by Muslim democrats in formulating and implementing solutions. The rich discussion over two days ranged in scope, but stressed three core themes:1) the central role that democratic principles and norms in areas such as pluralism, justice and inclusion play in underling sustainable solutions to the challenges in the Muslim world; 2) the vital leadership role that Muslim democrats must play in addressing contemporary challenges, from controlling the narrative about Islam and deepening dialogue to taking more active role in strengthening legal frameworks on refugee issues and in other areas of social justice. 3) Finally,  participants highlighted the need adopt new approaches to existing problems, be it moving away from primary focus on military solutions to ISIS to a more inclusive approach to refugee issues that brings in civil society actors. These discussions contributed to important ongoing debates in the Muslim world.

[Download : WFMD – Report FINAL]

30 March 2016

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Dear Friends,

Today marks day 415 of Anwar Ibrahim’s incarceration.

On the 10th of March, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted Malaysia and the plight of Anwar Ibrahim at Human Rights Council’s 31st session. In the statement Prince Zeid said:

“In Malaysia, democratic space continues to be limited, with the Government applying “sedition” and other charges to an ever-widening circle of journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critical voices. The enactment of the Prevention of Terrorist Act and the National Security Council Act, without proper human rights safeguards, and without transparent and consultative process, is also a matter of concern. The imprisonment of a former opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim – whose detention has been ruled arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – is emblematic of a broader democratic malaise.”[1]

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on the 23rd of March adopted a strong and clear resolution for Malaysia and Anwar Ibrahim citing:

“Decisions on cases in Malaysia include calls for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to be released from prison following new information that his trial and subsequent conviction were not based on legal considerations. IPU is, nevertheless, pleased by assurances that Anwar Ibrahim would receive medical treatment by a doctor of his own choosing. The Organization, however, remains concerned by Malaysia’s amended Sedition Act and Peaceful Assembly Act which have been used against 19 other MPs exercising their right as parliamentarians to speak and assemble freely.”[2]

On the local front, Anwar was transferred to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital from the 15th to the 17th for follow up check up. While his general health remains stable, his shoulder injury necessitates surgery to alleviate pain and allow for full mobility of his right shoulder. He continues to be denied proper intensive physiotherapy in hospital – two to three times a week as recommended by shoulder specialists.

Anwar appeared in court representing himself for the first time on the 22nd of March. He was forced to act as his own counsel after the prison authorities restricted his access to lawyers to only one hour a week despite 16 on going cases in court. This serious breach of his legal rights makes it impossible for Anwar and his team to adequately prepare for his legal defence. He has officially made requests for access to the Internet and legal literature to allow him to adequately prepare for cases.

In the RM100 million defamation suit case against Malaysian United Indian Party (MUIP) president S Nallakaruppan, Anwar successfully cross examined and cleared his name as S Nallakaruppan denied vehemently uttering the statement he made against Anwar during the 2008 by election that was deemed defamatory. Having cleared his name unequivocally in court, Anwar withdrew his suit.

The following week, 27th of March, Anwar again appeared in court representing himself. This time for an appeal to the decision of the Royal Pardon Board. In February 2015, the family of Anwar applied for a royal pardon to the King of Malaysia on the 5-year sentence imposed on Anwar citing miscarriage of justice.

However the Pardon Board rejected the application. Anwar’s family is citing conflict of interest as the Attorney General (at that time the Attorney General was Gani Patail) sits on the Pardon Board. His involvement with Anwar’s case is well known, as he remains a key player in the conviction of Anwar in both 1998 case and the recent case.

The application itself was eventually held in chambers behind closed doors with no one allowed to enter except for the applicants. Lawasia and IPU representative, Mark Trowell,  who wrote in earlier requesting permission to be allowed in as an international observer remarked that although he respects the decision of the judge he went on to say “The international community is still interested and concerned about legal proceedings concerning Anwar Ibrahim” and the judge should have used her discretion to allow international observers.

The application was later postponed to 4th of April 2016 to allow Anwar to review the senior federal counsel’s last minute submission on the matter.

We thank you for your concern and support. We will try our best to update as time goes on. Meanwhile, we leave you with a video we recently released.

Family of Anwar Ibrahim

“I hope Malaysians will continue to push for institutional reforms, a change in the judiciary system and most paramount the Election Commission, and other genuine changes. Not only a change of personalities” – Anwar Ibrahim on the 28th of March after court hearing

[1]http://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17200&LangID=E

[2] http://www.ipu.org/press-e/pressrelease201603231.htm

https://youtu.be/sJXhoEVufQE

11 March 2016

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UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ZEID HIGHLIGHTS ARBITRARY DETENTION OF MALAYSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ANWAR IBRAHIM IN ANNUAL REPORT TO HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

 

Anwar only prisoner of conscience anywhere in the world mentioned by High Commissioner

 

Geneva – In remarks to the Human Rights Council earlier today presenting his annual report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad focused on shrinking democratic space in Malaysia. He highlighted the ongoing imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim, which he described as arbitrary, as emblematic of the country’s retreat from democratic principles.  His remarks, in full, were as follows:

“In Malaysia, democratic space continues to be limited, with the Government applying “sedition” and other charges to an ever-widening circle of journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critical voices. The enactment of the Prevention of Terrorist Act and the National Security Council Act, without proper human rights safeguards, and without transparent and consultative process, is also a matter of concern. The imprisonment of a former opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim – whose detention has been ruled arbitrary by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – is emblematic of a broader democratic malaise.”

Anwar is a Malaysian opposition leader and a former Deputy Prime Minister.  He led a diverse opposition coalition, cutting across race and religion, to win 52 percent of the popular vote among Malaysians in the country’s 2013 parliamentary elections. He is now imprisoned on fabricated charges because he is a democratic threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak.  Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience; the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined his detention is arbitrary in an October 2015 opinion.

Since his imprisonment in February 2015, Anwar has suffered numerous human rights and due process violations.  These include the consistent denial of access to adequate medical care and treatment for his existing injuries as well as new conditions that arose from his detention.  Over the last months, Anwar had been denied effective access to his lawyers as visits with them were restricted to only one hour per week, despite the fact that there are 16 ongoing civil and criminal cases. As such, Anwar has had no choice but to discharge his counsel and to represent himself in several of his cases. Psychological pressure is maintained by denying contact visits with family members who speak to him only once in 3 weeks via telephone across a glass partition.

High Commissioner Zeid’s strong statement of support joins others in condemning Anwar’s imprisonment.  US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, called it an “unjust jailing,” and Human Rights Watch referred to it as a “travesty of justice.” The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union called in a Resolution for “the authorities to do everything possible to address this situation,” and the European Parliament issued a Resolution on Malaysia urging the immediate release “of all political prisoners, including … Anwar Ibrahim.”

16 February 2016

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UK Parliament

That this House is very concerned about the continued imprisonment of Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who has now served one year of his five year sentence for sodomy; notes that his conviction and subsequent imprisonment on politically motivated charges has undermined Malaysian democracy and confidence in the Malaysian justice system; further notes that almost 20 opposition hon. Members and a number of activists in Malaysia are subject to legal proceedings, under the Sedition Act and other legislation, for exercising their legitimate political and civil rights; calls on the relevant Malaysian authorities to release Anwar Ibrahim, and in the interim, to ensure he is able to access appropriate medical care, including the medical specialists of his choice, even if that necessitates travel abroad, and access to his lawyers; and urges the Government to make such representations to its counterparts in Malaysia.

10 February 2016

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(New York, February 9, 2016) – On the first anniversary of Anwar Ibrahim’s incarceration on politically motivated charges, the Malaysian government should unconditionally release the former deputy prime minister and political opposition leader, Human Rights Watch said today. The Malaysian government should also ensure that Anwar can access appropriate medical services while imprisoned and facilitate necessary overseas travel to treat the serious ailments he reportedly suffers from in prison.

“Malaysia’s conviction of Anwar Ibrahim was politically motivated, and he’s already suffered through a year in prison from this travesty of justice,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Every day that Anwar is behind bars, confidence in the Malaysian justice system further erodes. The government should release Anwar and repeal the country’s abusive and archaic sodomy laws.”

On February 10, 2015, Malaysia’s Federal Court upheld a Court of Appeal verdict that Anwar was guilty of sodomy under the Malaysian penal code. Anwar was taken into custody and immediately began serving a five-year prison term. A request for a pardon was turned down in March 2015. An appeal of that denial has yet to be decided.

In November 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Anwar’s imprisonment violated prohibitions on torture, or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Specifically, the Working Group found that an “adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Ibrahim immediately, and ensure that his political rights that were removed based on his arbitrary detention be reinstated.”

Police arrested Anwar on July 16, 2008, based on a complaint from Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a political aide, that Anwar had consensual sex with him. The original trial was plagued with serious fair trial concerns, including the prosecutors’ unwillingness to provide defense lawyers with access to medical and other evidence against their client. Nevertheless, the High Court acquitted Anwar on January 9, 2012, ruling that DNA samples that were central to the prosecution’s case had not been handled or maintained properly and thus were possibly contaminated. The High Court judge said the only other major evidence was the alleged victim’s statements, which were uncorroborated.

The government appealed and on March 7, 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Anwar to five years in prison. The appeal court hearing, originally scheduled for April, was hurriedly moved to March 6-7. The verdict and sentencing hearings were conducted on the same day despite defense counsel requests that they be given more time, including provision of medical evidence. The sentencing hearing was conducted after a one-hour recess on a day of proceedings that had lasted until 5 p.m.

Anwar’s conviction disqualified him from running for a state assembly seat in Selangor on March 23. Had he been permitted to run and won the seat, he would have been eligible to seek the position of chief minister of Selangor state, a development strongly opposed by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Anwar’s five-year sentence also carried a subsequent five-year ban on running for office after being released from prison under Malaysia’s elections law, which imposes a ban on anyone who is imprisoned for more than one year – effectively ending his elected political career. Soon after Anwar’s imprisonment, the multi-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance he had led fractured.

“Anwar’s conviction and imprisonment removed a major political threat to the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak,” Robertson said. “The conviction effectively removed a charismatic opposition leader, already in his late sixties, from politics for a minimum of ten years.”

According to his lawyers, Anwar suffers from serious health problems, including a major rotator cuff injury with torn muscles and tendons, which has not received proper treatment in prison. The lawyers and Anwar’s family raised health concerns for Anwar if he were to have the condition treated in an operation in Malaysia, and have tried to persuade the government to let him travel overseas for treatment. They have also sought guarantees that if Anwar did depart the country, the government would permit him to return and not seek to permanently exile him.

The anniversary of Anwar’s imprisonment comes five days before United States President Barack Obama is set to host a major summit with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the US. The invitation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also embroiled in a major corruption scandal involving the deposit of hundreds of millions of dollars in his personal bank account, has provoked outrage within civil society in Malaysia.

“President Obama should not conduct business as usual at the US-ASEAN summit with Prime Minister Najib,” said Robertson. “It would be a betrayal of the people of Malaysia if Obama does not publicly call for Anwar’s release, and the dismissal of politically motivated charges for sedition and other crimes that so many activists in Malaysia face today.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Malaysia, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/malaysia

For more information, please contact:
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson, (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @Reaproy
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @BradMAdams
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @johnsifton
In New York, Mickey Spiegel (English): +1-212-472-8723; [email protected] Twitter: @MickeySpiegel
In London, Linda Lakhdhir (English): +44-(0)77-8969-2780 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @LLakhdhir

10 February 2016

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FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization for Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) 

Joint press release 

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 10 February 2016: Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today on the one-year anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“It’s time the authorities put an end to the persecution of Anwar Ibrahim and immediately and unconditionally release him. Any additional day Anwar spends behind bars is one more day of shame for the Malaysian government and further tarnishes its battered reputation,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

On 10 February 2015, the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ conviction of Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. Anwar’s imprisonment was the result of a politically motivated prosecution and the ensuing criminal Court of Appeals and Federal Court proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals’ and Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial.

In an opinion issued at its 73rd session on 1 September 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

On 17 December 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that urged the Malaysian government to release Anwar.

“Authorities must heed the UN and EU calls, immediately free Anwar, reinstate his right to run for political office, and award him compensation for the protracted injustice he endured,”said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

FIDH and SUARAM reiterate their call for the Malaysian authorities to guarantee Anwar his prisoner rights – including the rights to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

Anwar requires intensive physiotherapy for a serious shoulder injury, which has worsened since his detention. Anwar also suffers from various gastro-intestinal problems, chronic arthritis, and irregular blood pressure. His prison doctor has denied him timely access to doctors of his choice and necessary medical testing.

The UNWGAD’s opinion considered that Anwar’s treatment during his detention “may have violated the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 5 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722(Bangkok)

6 January 2016

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The Straits Times

The establishment of the Asean Economic Community means growth prospects for the new common market of 625 million people have never looked better. Rupali Karekar looks at what 2016 may have in store for five of the biggest economies of the 10-member bloc.

Last year was one that Malaysia will be keen to forget. Biggest trade partner China slowed down, global oil prices slumped, the new goods and services tax curbed consumer spending, and the 1MDB sovereign fund saga turned into a political scandal.

There will be more headwinds this year, say economists, with the same negative factors continuing to weigh on the economy.

The fiscal deficit may swell over the oil-price plunge, the political crisis surrounding 1MDB may worsen, and uncertainty over a successor to outgoing central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz is a concern, noted Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts.

“We assign a high probability that the fiscal deficit in 2016 will miss the target of 3.1 per cent of gross domestic product, given probable weaker corporate income tax and GST collection,” the analysts said.

Fiscal revenue will likely be hit by weak oil and gas revenues, with Petronas’ dividend contribution slashed to RM16 billion (S$5.2 billion) from RM26 billion last year.

“Higher palm oil prices will provide some support… along with continued government investment in the infrastructure sector,” BMI Research analyst Shuhui Chia said.

The open Asean market provides an opportunity as well as competition. Ringgit depreciation remains a concern due to rising interest rates in the United States and depreciation of the yuan.

Prime Minister Najib Razak may focus on 1MDB and politics, so attention on growth and the economy may remain diluted and tensions continue to simmer, Ms Chia said.

19 December 2015

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The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Malaysia,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on the future of EU-ASEAN relations(1) ,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 15 April 2015 on the recently adopted amendment to the Sedition Act in Malaysia,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 17 March 2015 on the arrest of Nurul Izzah, opposition Member of Parliament in Malaysia,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 10 February 2015 on the conviction of Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim,

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 9 April 2015 on draft anti-terror and sedition laws,

–  having regard to the joint press release by the EEAS on the EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on human rights of 23 October 2015,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to UN Universal Periodic Review session of October 2013,

–  having regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons of June 2015,

–  having regard to the second Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia before the UN Human Rights Council, and its recommendations, of October 2013,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1998,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) of 1984,

–  having regard to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Human Rights Declaration,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU regards Malaysia as a key political and economic partner in South-East Asia; whereas the EU and Malaysia are negotiating a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement;

B.  whereas the space for public debate and free speech in Malaysia is rapidly narrowing as the government resorts to vaguely worded criminal laws to silence its critics and quell public discontent and peaceful expression, including debates on matters of public interest; whereas these laws include the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Peaceful Assembly act, amongst others;

C.  whereas on 3 December 2015 the National Security Council Bill was passed in the Malaysian Parliament by a majority vote; whereas the bill grants the National Security Council led by the Prime Minister sweeping powers to declare a state of emergency in any area deemed a security risk, giving broad powers of arrest, search and seizure without warrant;

D.  whereas under the Sedition Act alone at least 78 people have been investigated or charged since the beginning of 2014;

E.  whereas former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced on charges of sodomy in February 2015 following a politically motivated prosecution which resulted in criminal proceedings that failed to meet international standards of fair trial; whereas he has been denied appropriate medical care;

F.  whereas LGBTI people in Malaysia are criminalised under the country’s anti-sodomy law and regional laws prohibiting cross-dressing, and face political hate speech, arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, and other abuses;

G.  whereas Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (Zunar) is facing charges under the Sedition Act following critical tweets against the government with regard to the sentencing of Anwar Ibrahim; whereas blogger Khalid Ismath and academic Azmi Sharom face similar charges;

H.  whereas the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has questioned the Prime Minister in connection with graft allegations after the discovery of over 600 million euros in his bank account without any justification of source and purpose, as well as on separate allegations that hundreds of millions of euros were missing from deals involving a state firm he launched, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB);

I.  whereas media outlets and publishing houses have faced restrictions under the Printing Presses and Publications Act following reporting about these allegations, and whereas lawyer Matthias Chang and politician Khairuddin Abu Hassan were arrested following their investigations into these allegations;

J.  whereas the High Representative raised concerns regarding the abusive use of criminal laws during her visit to Malaysia on 5-6 August 2015;

K.  whereas, according to the UN and NGOs, the Malaysian police forces have increasingly resorted to acts of torture, late night arrests, unjustifiable remands and selective prosecution;

L.  whereas Malaysia continues to practice the death penalty with up to 1 000 prisoners currently on death row;

M.  whereas Malaysia is a Member of the UN Security Council and the current ASEAN Chair, and the 27th ASEAN Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur from 18 to 22 November 2015;

1.  Reaffirms the EU’s strong commitment to the Malaysian people with whom the EU has strong and longstanding political, economic and cultural ties;

2.  Deplores the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia and in particular the crackdown on civil society activists, academics, media and political activists; expresses concern with regard to the spike in the number of people facing charges or arrest under the Sedition Act;

3.  Is particularly concerned about the adoption of the National Security Council Bill and urges its withdrawal; calls on the government to maintain a proper balance between the need to safeguard national security and the imperative to protect civil and political rights;

4.  Urges the Malaysian Government to immediately release all political prisoners, including former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and to provide them with appropriate medical care, and to drop politically motivated charges, including those against cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar), blogger Khalid Ismath, academic Azmi Sharom, political dissidents Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang, and human rights activists Lena Hendry and Maria Chin Abdullah;

5.  Urges the Malaysian authorities to repeal the Sedition Act and to bring all legislation, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act, the Peaceful Assembly Act, and other relevant provisions of the penal code, in line with international standards on freedom of expression and assembly and the protection of human rights; calls on the Malaysian authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies, and to guarantee the safety of all participants and their freedom of expression across the whole country;

6.  Urges the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as recommended by the Police Commission of Inquiry in 2005, to investigate allegations of torture and deaths in police custody;

7.  Underlines the importance of independent and transparent investigations into the graft allegations, and of full cooperation with the investigators; urges the Malaysian Government to refrain from putting pressure on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and media;

8.  Deeply deplores the rise of supremacist groups which contribute further to the creation of ethnic tensions;

9.  Encourages the Malaysian Government to open a dialogue with opposition parties and civil society stakeholders;

10.  Calls on the Malaysian Government to ratify key international human rights conventions, including the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the CAT, the ICERD, ILO Convention 169, the ICC Rome Statute, as well as the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its optional protocol;

11.  Asks the Malaysian Government to extend a standing invitation to all the UN Special Procedures, thereby enabling special rapporteurs to visit Malaysia without asking for an invitation;

12.  Reiterates its position that the death penalty is a cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and calls on Malaysia to introduce a moratorium as the first step towards the abolition of the death penalty for all offences and to commute all death sentences to prison terms;

13.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to coordinate policies towards Malaysia, in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights, in order to encourage reform on the above issues of concern through all possible means, including in the context of the UN where Malaysia is a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2015-2016;

14.  Urges the EU Delegation to Malaysia to step up efforts to finance projects on freedom of expression and reforming repressive laws, and to use all appropriate tools, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, to protect human rights defenders; urges the withdrawal of the anti-sodomy law and calls on the EEAS, in line with the EU guidelines on the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI persons, to step up its work on the rights of LGBTI people in Malaysia who face violence and persecution, and to aim in particular towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality and transgenderism;

15.  Reaffirms the importance of the EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on human rights as a useful tool to exchange good practices and promote capacity-building initiatives;

16.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that human rights concerns are duly taken into account during future negotiations on an EU-Malaysia FTA and PCA;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the parliament and government of Malaysia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the ASEAN Member States.

12 December 2015

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FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization for Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

 

Joint press release

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 10 December 2015: Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and allow him to receive proper medical attention, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today on the 10-month anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

 

“The ongoing detention of Anwar Ibrahim is the tip of the iceberg of the government’s ongoing crackdown against political opponents and critics. Anwar’s immediate and unconditional released would be a positive first step towards addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

 

On 10 February 2015, the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ conviction of Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. Anwar’s Imprisonment was the result of a politically motivated prosecution that resulted in criminal proceedings that failed to meet international standards of fair trial. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals’ and Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial.

 

On 21 October 2015, in a decision on Malaysia issued at its 197th session, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said it feared that Anwar’s conviction “may be based on considerations other than legal.”

 

In an opinion issued at its 73rd session on 1 September 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated. In addition, the UNWGAD’s opinion considered that Anwar’s treatment during his detention “may have violated the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 5 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].”

 

The former opposition leader has faced difficulties receiving proper medical attention in Sungai Buloh prison. Anwar’s supervising doctor in the prison, appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has repeatedly denied him access to recommended regular and intensive physiotherapy for a serious shoulder injury, which has worsened since his detention. The denial of adequate medical care runs counter to international norms. Article 22(2) of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that “sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.”

 

Anwar also suffers from chronic arthritis, gastritis, irregular blood pressure, intestinal bleeding, and has a growth on his kidney. His prison doctor has denied him timely access to doctors of his choice and necessary medical testing.

 

Since early September, prison authorities have restricted Anwar’s access to his lawyers to one hour per week, despite the fact that he is involved in at least 16 ongoing court cases as plaintiff or defendant. This restriction is a breach of his fundamental rights guaranteed under Malaysian law and the Malaysian Constitution, and is against international standards. Principle 18 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that an imprisoned person “shall be allowed adequate time” for consultation with his legal counsel.

 

In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs has denied several foreign embassies and organizations prison visits to Anwar. On 5 November 2015, Malaysia’s Prison Affairs Division, under the Ministry of Home Affairs Ministry, rejected a request to visit Anwar made by FIDH three days earlier. No explanation was given for the denial of the visit.

 

“The persecution of Anwar Ibrahim did not end with his conviction ten months ago – it is continuing behind bars. It’s time for the authorities to immediately put an end all acts of harassment against him,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

 

FIDH and SUARAM demand Malaysian authorities guarantee Anwar his prisoner rights, including the rights to receive adequate medical care and access to a legal counsel, in accordance with relevant international standards.

 

Press contacts

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) – Tel: +33672284294 (Paris)

1 December 2015

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The Washington Post

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – Online critics of the Malaysian government would be well advised not to spend too much money on cellphones.

“Just lost number four,” Eric Paulsen, an outspoken civil liberties lawyer and compulsive tweeter, said Nov. 20 after nearly two hours of questioning at the main police station here over his latest sedition charge.

Paulsen went into the police station with a shiny new Chinese handset, a Xiaomi, and came out without it. At least it was cheaper than the iPhone and two Samsung Galaxies that previously were confiscated from him this year, apparently because they are tools in his social-media activism.

His friend Sim Tze Tzin, an opposition parliamentarian who also was questioned that day, still smarts over the iPhone 6 Plus that was taken from him this year. “Don’t they know how much that thing cost?” Sim said, laughing, after emerging from his own session with the police.

Malaysia, ostensibly one of the United States’ democratic allies in Southeast Asia, is engaged in a broad crackdown on freedom of expression that detractors say is all about silencing critics of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is embroiled in a corruption scandal. And the crackdown is particularly focused on online commentary, which is proving much harder to control than traditional media.

“The government has at least two intentions,” said Yin Shao Loong, who is executive director of the Institut Rakyat, a think tank, and is aligned with the opposition. “One is to stifle freedom of expression. The other is to harass the opposition and sap their energy and tie them up in court cases that could take years.”

Najib’s government has been making heavy use of the 1948 Sedition Act, a remnant of the British colonial period, which makes it an offense to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government.”

Among the three dozen or so who have been targeted so far this year are Azmi Sharom, a law professor at the University of Malaya who gave his legal opinion on a 2009 political crisis, and Maria Chin Abdullah, the leader of the Bersih group, a civil-society organization that promotes electoral reform, who has been charged with illegal assembly and sedition for organizing huge anti-Najib rallies in August.

Numerous opposition parliamentarians also have been charged with sedition, most of them for criticizing a federal court’s decision in February upholding the conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on charges of sodomy. That case is widely viewed as political.

S. Arutchelvan, a socialist politician, was charged in the past week with sedition for comments he made in February. The well-known cartoonist Zunar, who in September won an International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, has been charged with nine counts of sedition for nine tweets criticizing the Anwar conviction.

And two newspapers deemed hostile to the government were suspended from publishing.

“Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Malaysian government are making a mockery of their claim to be a rights-respecting democracy by prosecuting those who speak out on corruption or say anything even remotely critical of the government,” said Linda Lakhdhir of Human Rights Watch. The government, she added, should stop using “repressive laws to harass the media and intimidate its critics.”

The crackdown began after the ruling party fared poorly in 2013 elections, said Murray Hiebert, an expert on Southeast Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, but the repression has accelerated amid a corruption scandal that threatens Najib’s hold on power.

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24 November 2015

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Washington Post

Reporters and editors who face enormous risks in Syria, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Malaysia are honored.

RECENTLY THE Islamic State in Raqqa sent an ominous message to an exiled Syrian journalist. Tell us who is filing covertly from the occupied city, the terrorists warned, or we will execute your father. The editor refused to name names. His father was shot to death.

We heard this story last week from AbdAlaziz Alhamza, who works for the same journalism collective as the grieving editor: Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. With a dozen reporters still filing from Raqqa, risking their lives every day, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently is one of the few sources of independent news from inside its terrorized land of lashings, slavery, beheadings and crucifixions.

The collective is one of four 2015 International Press Freedom awardees who will be honored by the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York City Tuesday. They reflect both the lengths dictators will go to silence free speech – and the creativity and almost unimaginable courage that journalists summon in response.

In addition to the online collective of mostly anonymous Syrian reporters, the honorees include a Malaysian cartoonist, Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known by his pen name, Zunar, whose work appears only online because the government allows no newspaper to carry his work; the Zone 9 bloggers, an Ethio­pian collective that came together as their government decimated the independent press; and Cándido Figueredo Ruíz , a Paraguayan journalist who shines a light on drug cartels and the corruption they engender. A reporter for ABC Color, one of his country’s largest newspapers, Mr. Figueredo holds perhaps the most traditional job among the winners. But there is nothing conventional about his bravery: He has been shot at numerous times, and now lives under constant police guard, as does his wife.

Mr. Zunar, 53, will return to Malaysia to face a December court date on charges of sedition that could lead to a prison sentence of 43 years. The Ethio­pian bloggers too have been imprisoned and still have judicial proceedings hanging over them. Why go back, we asked Mr. Zunar?

“We do it for reform,” he told us during a visit to The Post. “We have been governed by the same ruling party for 60 years. Corruption is huge. There are so many injustices. . . . I know it is an uphill battle. I’m not sure when it will end, or will I see the change in my lifetime. It’s like an endless marathon, but as long as I’m on the track I’m the winner.”

Mr. Zunar shared with us the cartoon he planned to post later that day: a drawing of President Obama, who traveled to Malaysia on Friday, stretching his arm around a prison full of political dissidents to shake hands with the Malaysian leader he has praised and golfed with, Najib Razak. For those of us who can take our freedoms for granted, the cartoon held a useful message: We should never forget the political prisoners, like Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, nor the journalists like Mr. Zunar and his co-winners who bravely take up the cause of freedom. “One of the great supports is to know I’m not alone,” Mr. Figueredo said.

23 November 2015

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*Opening address by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, convener and co-founder of the World Forum for Muslim Democrats, at its Second International Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia on 23rd November, 2015. The speech was delivered by Nurul Izzah Anwar, Malaysia’s Member of Parliament, Vice President of KEADILAN

Friends, fellow democrats, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Assalamualaikum wbt & Selamat Siang.
 
First, let me extend a warm welcome to all our participants and delegates to this conference – the second international conference of the World Forum for Muslim Democrats.
 
I remain gratified by the support of Sasakawa; the Habibie Center and SETA for allowing the articulation of the vision first formulated to unite Muslims in the pursuit of democratic reforms. Specifically, I must express my personal appreciation for this endeavor through the enthusiastic support and consideration by Former Presidents BJ Habibie, Abdullah Gul and Dr Rashid Ghannouchi.
 
More than three years ago, in March 2012, I was in Dubai at a conference presenting the changing political landscape in the Muslim world when the idea of this forum took shape.
When I used that phrase – changing political landscape, back then, it indeed reflected the turbulent times we were in. However, now with the benefit of hindsight, it did not anticipate the pace of the change, nor its intensity and ramifications.
 
The Arab Spring was still unfolding with Tunisia blazing the democracy trail, after successfully deposing Ben Ali, just 13 months before that. But hardly a year later, Bashar al-Assad warned protesters of consequences of “working with foreign elements to undermine his regime.”
 
Soon after, the first of a series of murderous attacks by the Assad regime on its own people unfolded in the city of Homs. Two weeks before I delivered that keynote address in Dubai, Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down. Two months later, Mohammed Morsi won the first round of the presidential elections in Egypt and the day after, Assad ordered another round of massacre in Houla.
 
On June 24, 2012, the election commission officially announced that Morsi had won the presidential runoff. It was a narrow margin of 51.7 percent of the vote versus 48.3 for the contender.
 
By July, the international world finally realised that a full blown civil war in Syria was underway. Over 200,000 Syrian refugees had fled the country.

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