28 April 2015

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TMI

A sponsored Facebook post criticising Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and urging Malaysians to vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Permatang Pauh by-election has apparently backfired, as social media users left comments mocking the ruling coalition’s own policies.

The page Pilihanraya Kecil Parlimen Permatang Pauh P44 (Permatang Pauh By-Election) posted an image of Lim with the words: “This is the example of a successful leader”.

Underneath his picture, it wrote, “Bed tax beginning to be enforced, water tariffs hiked three times, assessment tax raised, government-owned land almost half sold, affordable homes just rhetoric, market rent raised 100%, construction of luxury homes prioritised, massage parlours increased, flood problems unresolved”.

“Congratulations to the people of Penang. Enough… it’s our turn! #BN4 #PRKPermatangPauh,” the page administrators wrote in the post.But many Facebook users were quick to point out in the comments section that some of the claims were misleading, and that the issues were no different from those faced by states led by BN.

Sofian Hakem wrote, “I am not a supporter of political parties.. I am not trying to suck up.. I stay in Penang..my area used to be flooded badly, if it rained heavily for an hour, there were bound to be floods, but now there are no more floods.

“The mosque now has air-conditioning, the place where I run my business has been upgraded but the rental remains the same at RM7.50 a month.”

Dunia Orina commented that prices of houses and assessment taxes were rising in all states, regardless of the party that governed it, and urged the administrators to “check their facts before coming out with foolish statements”.

“Ouhhh, Malacca has no massage parlours? Johor has no massage parlours? Tax isn’t rising in Johor and Malacca?” wrote Khairil Rijal Khizhir.

Mohd Iskandar said, “the water tariff in Johor is the highest in Malaysia, doesn’t the admin know this? Don’t think that by staying in a BN state, Malays will have it easy. What happened to BN’s promises during the election?”

Other users said BN’s own sins, such as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal and the goods and services tax (GST) dwarfed any of the Penang government’s mistakes.

Remy Alamshah even blamed the rising taxes in Penang on the federal government’s enforcement of the GST.

Proton Putra Putri said none of the problems listed in the post were equal to that of 1MDB and its vanished money.

“So we should support BN now? No need. We’ll be worse off and get even more problems,” wrote Putra Razif Thessoullok.

Wan Paan wrote sarcastically, “I agree with admin..only BN can alleviate the people’s burden.. Do you want to know, admin? Now all the goods are cheaper.. before, top-up cost RM10, now it’s RM10.60..isn’t it getting cheaper?

“That’s why my friends love BN more and more. Only BN can alleviate our burden. Long live BN!!!!”

Mohd Yusoff Ariff, Seri Nurhayati Nordin, Iqmal Boy Zainal mocked the administrators for ignoring the failings of BN-led states, while Md Shari sung Penang’s praises.

Md Shari said a friend of his who worked as an Imam at a mosque in Penang for nine years was happy there.

“He said the entire time he has lived in Penang, there was no oppression of the Malays, in fact if the azan’s speakers sounded bad, they would provide funds to repair it so the azan sounded nice,” wrote Md Shari.

“In fact the state government increased the allocation for the surau and mosque where he worked each year. The mosque even has air-conditioning… do not defame others, the consequences are terrible in this world and the hereafter.”

Pakatan Rakyat is defending the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat with PKR candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She held the seat three times after winning it in the 1999 by-election and 2004 and 2008 general elections before her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, returned to politics.

She is up against Barisan Nasional newcomer Suhaimi Sabudin, 43, a construction company managing director from Guar Perahu, Permatang Pauh.

The Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency has 71,513 voters, of whom 70% are Malays with the rest made up of Chinese (20%), Indians (6%) and others (4%).

There are three state seats in Permatang Pauh. PKR holds Penanti and Seberang Jaya while PAS holds Permatang Pasir.

In the 2013 polls, Anwar retained the seat with 37,090 or 58.56% of the total 63,332 votes cast, with an 11,721 majority.

Barisan Nasional’s Dr Mazlan Ismail garnered 25,369 or 40.06% of the total votes while independent candidate Dr Abdullah only received 201 votes (0.32%) and lost his deposit.

28 April 2015

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TMI

Election Commission (EC) is wrong in saying that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a prisoner has no right to vote as the Federal Constitution only disqualifies an inmate from voting if he was already in prison at the time he applied to be a voter, says PKR.

The party’s political bureau member, N. Surendran, in a statement today said: “Article 119(3)(a) of the Federal Constitution disqualifies a person serving a prison sentence from voting only if he was already imprisoned at the time he applies for registration as a voter.”

He added that the position taken by EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof in the opposition leader’s case was wrong and breached the Federal Constitution.

Pakatan Rakyat on Sunday proposed that Anwar be allowed to cast his ballot in the Permatang Pauh by-election this May 7, and said the Home Ministry had even proposed plans since 2013 to allow convicts to exercise their right to vote in elections.Aziz subsequently told The Malaysian Insider that Anwar was not eligible to vote based on Article 119(3)(a) which states that “a person is disqualified for being a elector in any election to the House of Representatives or the Legislative Assembly if on the qualifying date he is detained as a person of unsound mind or is serving a sentence of imprisonment”.

But, Surendran today said “the qualifying date” was explained in another provision, Article 119(4)(b), as being the date on which a person applies for registration as an elector in a constituency.

He added that the EC must make the necessary arrangements to enable Anwar to exercise his right, as he was registered as a voter in Permatang Pauh long before he was imprisoned.

“Failure to do so will be in breach of the EC’s statutory duties and a serious infringement of Anwar’s civil and constitutional rights.”

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar yesterday said the EC’s decision not to let Anwar vote in the Permatang Pauh by-election showed it was biased.

“It is unfortunate that EC is unprofessional, not only does it reject a good suggestion but it justifies the EC in acting in the interest of Umno-BN,” she said in a WhatsApp message to The Malaysian Insider.

19 April 2015

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Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak berkata cukai GST (Goods and Services Tax) tidak akan membebankan rakyat. Timbalan Menteri Kewangan Datuk Ahmad Maslan pula berkata, 500 barangan akan turun harga apabila GST dilaksanakan.

Namun sekarang, rakyat Malaysia sudah sedar bahawa semua itu tidak benar!?

GST adalah sejenis cukai rakus, bersifat regresif yang membebankan rakyat. Golongan yang paling terbeban adalah rakyat berpendapatan rendah, pesara, warga emas, pelajar dan golongan pertengahan yang terhimpit dengan Barang Naik.

Mengikut kajian, setiap keluarga dijangka terpaksa membayar paling kurang RM100 sebulan untuk cukai GST. Lapan puluh peratus keluarga di Malaysia berpendapatan kurang dari RM3,000, mereka inilah golongan yang paling teruk akan tertindas.

Benarlah seperti awalan hurufnya, GST membawa maksud, Golongan Susah Tertindas!

Kita bantah GST kerana, di dalam keadaan rakyat terhimpit dengan kenaikan harga barang, kerajaan pusat bermewah-mewahan gunakan duit rakyat membeli jet peribadi baru, salah urus tadbir ekonomi sehingga mengakibatkan hutang Negara mencapai 700 billion ringgit, ditambah dengan banyak skandal kewangan seperti 1MDB!

Malaysia cukup kaya, jika sumber negara diurus tadbir dengan betul dan amanah maka kerajaan tidak perlu laksanakan cukai GST yang jelas begitu membebankan rakyat.

Apa yang boleh kita lakukan? Jika kita terus berpeluk tubuh dan menyerah tanpa melakukan apa-apa, kita akan terus ditindas selama-lamanya. Golongan Susah Tertindas tanpa dibela. Kita lancarkan petisyen ini sebagai tanda permulaan membantah cukai rakus, GST. Tindakan susulan harus difikirkan bersama.

Never Surrender! Kita perjuangkan kebajikan diri kita di samping membela golongan susah. Tandatangan petisyen sekarang!

Pautan: Bantah GST!

13 April 2015

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The Economist

An anti-terror law curtails liberties

THREE years ago Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, fulfilled a promise to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA), a draconian colonial-era law which had long been used to lock up dissenters without trial. In the early hours of April 7th legislators approved a new bill which reinstates some of the old law’s power. The Prevention of Terror Act gives a government panel the right to imprison terror suspects for two years, with multiple extensions, or restrict their movements for five years. Critics spy another blow to civil liberties, which were already under siege.

The government argued that the new law was needed to combat a mounting threat from domestic extremists inspired by Islamic State, the militia that occupies large parts of Syria and Iraq. Officials reckon that at least a dozen Malaysians have died abroad fighting for the militants. Police say that since 2013 they have arrested around 90 people suspected of sympathising with them. On April 5th, just hours before Parliament began debating the law, police nabbed 17 people who they said were planning attacks on Kuala Lumpur, the capital, and on Putrajaya, the government seat.

The timing looked suspicious to opponents of the act, which include Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition. Many fewer Malaysians than, for example, Belgians are thought to have travelled to Syria. Nor is Malaysia, a moderately Muslim country, battling provincial Islamic insurgencies of the sort that trouble its neighbours, Thailand and the Philippines. The government has produced no evidence that such sweeping powers are warranted, the International Commission of Jurists, a human-rights group, claims. It laments that only one member of the government’s detention panel need have legal experience. Even without the panel’s consent, police may now hold suspects for up to 60 days.

The big worry is that the law will become a new weapon in a worsening crackdown on opponents of UMNO, Mr Najib’s party, which has ruled Malaysia in coalition since the 1950s but which was nearly unseated in elections held in 2013. In the first three months of this year police arrested 36 people on suspicion of making comments that violated the Sedition Act, another archaic law which is being invoked more frequently than ever. Last month Nurul Izzah, a prominent MP, was arrested on suspicion of sedition after she delivered a speech in Parliament denouncing the imprisonment of her father, Anwar Ibrahim, who leads the opposition. Many think the sodomy charge against him is politically motivated. Other recent detainees include five staff at the Malaysian Insider, a news website, and a cartoonist called Zunar, who faces nine counts of sedition and a prison sentence of up to 43 years.

Mr Najib had promised to roll back the Sedition Act, just as he promised to junk the ISA. Yet while pushing through the new anti-terror rules, his government took the opportunity to table changes to the act which would greatly toughen sentences and forbid speech that denigrates religion.

Both pieces of legislation highlight how far Malaysia has retreated from the reformist policies that Mr Najib espoused during his first term, which ended in 2013. Supporters plead that the prime minister is tacking right only to head off leadership challenges from even less palatable parts of his party (on April 2nd Mahathir Mohamad, an influential former prime minister, renewed his call for Mr Najib to step down). But that is not much comfort to anyone.

13 April 2015

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The Economist

A thuggish government is playing racial politics. Najib Razak should be dressed down

MALAYSIA’S prime minister, Najib Razak, paints his country as a model of moderate Islam—a multicultural democracy and a beacon of tolerance. He has spoken of scrapping oppressive British-era laws and nurturing a creative economy. Meanwhile, his spin-doctors explain that their liberal master is the man to vanquish the reactionary forces in his political party, UMNO, which has never been out of power and which is prone to cronyism and political thuggery. Barack Obama, for one, buys this story. He is the first American president since 1966 to have visited Malaysia. And late last year in Hawaii he enjoyed a round on the golf links with Mr Najib. The two men are said to click. The White House gushes about a “growing and warming relationship” between America and Malaysia.

Race to the bottom

Yet it is time to call Mr Najib out on the widening gulf between spin and substance. On the economic front is a growing scandal over dubious connections and misused funds at a national investment fund, 1MDB, that Mr Najib launched and which is now burdened with $12 billion of debts. Malaysia’s human-rights record is of even greater concern. Three years ago Mr Najib scrapped a notorious colonial law, the Internal Security Act, which allowed indefinite detention without trial. This week he, in effect, reintroduced it. The new Prevention of Terrorism Act allows suspects to be detained indefinitely. Though it is aimed ostensibly at jihadists, lawyers and civic groups are appalled at the law’s sweep (see article).

This fits a pattern. The coalition that Mr Najib leads uses foul as well as fair means to keep the opposition down. In the most recent election, in 2013, it lost the popular vote for the first time. Yet it held on to power thanks to gerrymandered voting districts. Even after that dubious victory, it continued to persecute the charismatic opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who in February was sentenced to five years on trumped-up charges of sodomy. American criticism was perfunctory.

In the past year growing numbers of activists and opposition figures have been arrested under the Sedition Act, another colonial law aimed originally at advocates of independence. Mr Najib, who once promised to remove it from the statute book, now plans to strengthen it with harsher punishments and a clause forbidding speech that denigrates Islam.

Among those already arrested under the Sedition Act are opponents of hudud, corporal and capital punishments, including stoning to death for adultery, laid down in Islamic law. Hudud does not apply in Malaysia, but Islamists from an opposition party want it introduced in Kelantan state in the north-east. The government does not like the idea but is quietly supporting it in a cynical ploy to widen splits in Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition struggling without Mr Anwar.

By encouraging the Islamists, the government is fanning racial and religious divisions in a majority-Malay (and Muslim) country with large ethnic-Chinese and ethnic-Indian minorities. In 1969 bloody race riots nearly tore Malaysia apart. Playing racial politics could be disastrous in this multiracial country. A better and more enlightened way for Mr Najib to boost UMNO’s prospects would be for him to repair its image with ethnic Chinese and Indians.

Malaysia’s friends should be blunter about this where they have been mealy-mouthed. They should condemn Malaysia’s corruption, its decaying freedoms and its racial politics. They should call for both the Sedition Act and unlimited detention to go. Until matters improve, not only should golf be off the agenda; so too should the prime minister’s hoped-for trip to Washington this year.

8 April 2015

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AI

A new law that would allow terrorism suspects in Malaysia to be held indefinitely without charge, trial or judicial review, is a shocking onslaught against human rights and the rule of law, said Amnesty International.

“Indefinite detention without trial is contrary to human rights law and it will not stop terrorism. Abandoning people to rot in a cell for years on end without a judicial process and proof that they have committed a crime is just like aimlessly stabbing in the dark. Authorities must ensure that human rights and fair trial guarantees are respected and protected,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Malaysia Researcher at Amnesty International.

“Abandoning people to rot in a cell for years on end without a judicial process and proof that they have committed a crime is just like aimlessly stabbing in the dark. Authorities must ensure that human rights and fair trial guarantees are respected and protected.”

Under the newly enacted Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a board will be established to approve detention or restriction orders for individuals “in the interest of security of Malaysia”. A suspect can first be detained for 59 days without charge before being presented to the board. This body, which will be appointed by the King and will be outside of the jurisdiction of any court, will have the power to renew detention orders indefinitely. Its decisions cannot be appealed.

The POTA is reminiscent of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA), abolished in 2012, which also allowed for indefinite detention without trial. The new law has not included the necessary safeguards to ensure fair trials and respect of human rights so it could be just as susceptible to abuse as the widely condemned ISA, which was used to unjustly detain government critics and created a climate of fear in the country for decades.

“With the stroke of a pen, Malaysia has managed to get one step closer to becoming a ‘human rights black hole’ where fundamental rights to a fair trial or freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, even if enshrined in the Malaysian constitution, are increasingly being undermined in the name of national security,” said Hazel Galang-Folli.

Today, the Malaysian government also tabled amendments to the colonial-era Sedition Act, including increasing jail terms from three years to up to seven years on conviction and up to 20 years if a suspect is convicted of sedition with causing bodily harm or damage to property. The proposed amendments could also disallow bail for those charged.

In recent months, the Sedition Act has been used to arbitrarily arrest government critics including opposition leaders, human rights defenders, activists, journalists and human rights lawyers.

“Authorities in Malaysia must immediately repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Sedition Act and release all those who have been detained under it only for expressing their opinions peacefully,” said Hazel Galang-Folli.

8 April 2015

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The New York Times

BANGKOK — Three years after abolishing detention without trial, the Malaysian government revived the practice on Tuesday with the passage into law of a highly contentious antiterrorism bill that opposition leaders fear could be used against government critics.

The bill, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, was passed early Tuesday by a vote of 79 to 60 after more than 10 hours of debate.

The government, which arrested 17 people this week for what the chief of police said was a plot to attack army camps and police stations, has sought to justify the law as necessary to combat the threat of terrorism in Malaysia.

Critics say the law is a further slide toward authoritarianism in Malaysia and a definitive reversal of personal freedoms that Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed to introduce soon after assuming power in 2009.

28 March 2015

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By AFP
28 March 2015

Malaysian police arrested three leading opposition politicians in a bid to thwart a protest march on Saturday demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, his party said.

The protest went ahead anyway, however, with several hundred people taking to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur to denounce the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The arrests are the latest in an growing tally of sedition charges levelled at government opponents amid anger over Anwar’s jailing last month on a sodomy charge.

“This is an abuse of the sedition law, and an abuse of everything. The government is acting maliciously,” said Tian Chua, a member of parliament and vice president of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, shortly before he was arrested on Saturday.

Police had banned the rally and said participants faced arrest.

Demonstrators staged a short march through the city towards its convention centre, where participants had vowed to disrupt wedding celebrations for Najib’s daughter.

Scores of police blocked them from the area, and they later dispersed. There were no arrests or violent incidents reported.

Washington has been among the international critics of Anwar’s conviction and the crackdown on dissent, saying both raised rule-of-law concerns.

Anwar denies the charge that he sodomised a former male aide in 2008, saying it was fabricated by Malaysia’s long-ruling government to halt a run of opposition electoral gains.

Najib promised in 2011 to end the authoritarian tactics of his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

But after that failed to win back ebbing voter support in 2013 polls, his government has launched a tightening clampdown in which dozens of opponents were hauled up on sedition or other charges over the past year.

Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah, a member of parliament and one of those charged recently with sedition, warned Friday that Malaysia was sliding toward becoming a “police state”.

Najib last week defended his policies, saying dissent cannot be allowed to jeopardise stability.

But Amnesty International last Monday noted “troubling signs of an escalating crackdown” on civil liberties.

“The space for dissent and debate in Malaysia is rapidly shrinking, under the guise of punishing ‘sedition’ or maintaining public order,” it said in a statement.

Besides Tian Chua, police on Saturday also arrested Mohamad Sabu, deputy president of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).

Rafizi Ramli, a vice president of Anwar’s party, was arrested on Friday.

A police official confirmed Rafizi’s arrest but declined comment on the others.

It was not clear what the men, who were still in custody later Saturday, would be charged with.

28 March 2015

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With global democracy declining for the ninth year in a row, we look at some of the opposition leaders around the world who have been charged with sodomy, bribery and arson, and who now face prison and even death sentences.

Venezuela
Leopoldo López, awaiting verdict, charged with inciting violence and arson

“Our arguments – and those of hundreds more Venezuelans suffering the same injustice – are clear and forceful: political disqualification violates laws.”

Founder of the opposition Popular Will party, Leopoldo López was arrested on 18 February 2014 after calling for citizens to protest the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whose leadership has seen Venezuela pushed into the top 10 countries in the world for corruption and homicide. Charges of murder and terrorism were later downgraded to arson, damage and inciting violence, for which he is still on trial.

Ethiopia
Andargachew Tsige, death row, convicted of attempting to overthrow the government

Accused of attempting to overthrow the government, Ethiopian opposition leader Andargachew Tsige was sentenced to death in absentia in 2007. His party, Ginbot 7, seeks to end the country’s dictatorship and is Ethiopia’s largest exiled opposition movement. After Ginbot 7 was declared a terrorist organisation in the 1970s, Tsige fled and sought asylum in the UK.

While travelling to Eritrea in June 2014, Tsige disappeared during a stopover at Sana’a airport and was subsequently extradited to Ethiopia, where he remains on death row. Amnesty International has closely documented Tsige’s case, and online petitions call for his release.

Maldives
Mohamed Nasheed, 13 years, convicted of terrorism

“Maldivians have the right to be ruled, not through coercion, down the barrel of a gun, but peacefully, by popular consent, via the ballot box.”

As president of the Maldives, Nasheed sought to arrest the chief judge of the criminal court for corruption in January 2012, but was forced to resign from office in what was effectively a coup. Now leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic party, he was arrested on terrorism charges and jailed for 13 years earlier this month.

The MDP launched a national civil disobedience campaign to free Nasheed on 15 March, calling for citizens to take to the street in peaceful protest. His trial was deemed deeply flawed by Amnesty International.

Kuwait
Musallam al-Barrak, two years, convicted for criticising the Kuwaiti ruler

“You can jail my body but not my ideas and will.”

Musallam al-Barrak, leader of the Popular Action Movement opposition, is accused of insulting Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah during a speech while he was an MP in October 2012. His speech protested that changes in law would allow the al-Sabah family to manipulate election outcomes.

Authorities have cracked down on their opposition since mass protests in 2012, and numerous former MPs and tweeters have since been jailed for criticising the emir. Al-Barrak was sentenced to two years in prison in February. Amnesty International has been calling for his release.

Malaysia
Anwar Ibrahim, five years, convicted of sodomy

“[Imprisonment] is a small price to pay in my struggle for freedom and justice for all Malaysians.”

On 10 February 2015, Malaysia’s highest court upheld a five-year prison sentence for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on a sodomy charge. The action came after a former campaign worker filed a sexual assault claim against him. Anal sex is illegal in Malaysia. Ibrahim was previously acquitted of the crime in 2012, but the ruling was overturned days before he was set to contest an election in March 2014. Critics describe his arrest as a government attempt to block the opposition’s ascendancy.

There are Facebook and Twitter campaigns for his release, and political coalition Pakatan Rakyat launched a petition to pardon Ibrahim on 16 March.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Jean-Bertrand Ewanga, one year, convicted of contempt of court

The arrest of Jean-Bertrand Ewanga, secretary of the opposition Union for the Congolese Nation party, came in August 2014 after he participated in a rally opposing the extension of presidential terms in the DRC. He was placed under house arrest on charges of inciting hatred, tribalism and contempt of the supreme magistrature, then sentenced to one year in prison on 11 September 2014.

The Free Fair DRC campaign group has been active in raising awareness, and Ewanga’s case was discussed in British parliament during October 2014, where it garnered 28 signatures from across party lines.

Tanzania
Ibrahim Lipumba, awaiting verdict, charged with holding rallies without a permit

“The people of Zanzibar have been robbed of their choice. We will not accept it.”

Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, chairman of the Civic United Front party, was arrested on 28 January 2015 and for holding political rallies without a permit ahead of the October 2015 Tanzanian elections. New charges of conspiracy, unlawful assembly and rioting were issued on 25 February. With Lipumba currently out on bail, the case has been adjourned until April 13.

Rwanda
Victoire Ingabire, 15 years, convicted of threatening state security

“Remanding me in captivity or silencing my voice can only postpone the revolution, it cannot stop the movement.”

Unified Democratic Forces party leader Victoire Ingabire returned to Rwanda in January 2010, after living in exile for 16 years in the Netherlands, to stand in that year’s elections. She was arrested in April 2010 and barred from running for office.

She was charged with “threatening state security” and “belittling Rwanda’s 1994 genocide” after questioning why the country’s official memorial excluded Hutus (some moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists alongside Tutsis). She boycotted the trial, which she described as politically motivated, and refused to appear in court. Courts upheld the conviction and increased her jail term from eight to 15 years, reviving previously dropped charges of encouraging revolt, after an appeal in December 2013. Her supporters call for international mobilisation against her imprisonment.

Sudan
Farouk Abu Issa, awaiting verdict, charged with undermining the constitutional system

Farouk Abu Issa was arrested on 6 December 2014 after signing a political declaration in Sudan that brought together opposition and rebel forces in a joint call for democratic change. He faces charges of (pdf) “complicity to execute a criminal agreement”, “undermining the constitutional system” and “opposing public authority by violence or criminal force”.

Abu Issa’s health has deteriorated since his arrest. Amnesty International and Canadian organisation Lawyers’ Rights Watch have spearheaded calls for the 82-year-old’s release.

Swaziland
Mario Masuku, awaiting verdict, charged with terrorism and sedition

“The king will try to silence the opposition, to try and tighten the knot around us, but we will continue to make things very difficult.”

Mario Masuku, president of banned opposition party of the People’s United Democratic Movement, was detained on terrorism charges after delivering a speech on 1 May 2014 that criticised the system of government in Swaziland. He has been denied bail twice, despite severe health problems, and could face 15 years behind bars if convicted.

Online petitions call for Masuku’s release, while blogs have reported widespread support from politicians, organisations and individuals including the International Trade Union Confederation, the African National Congress and Unison.

Burundi
Frédéric Bamvuginyumvira, five years, convicted of bribery

In his role as deputy leader of the Front for Democracy party, Frédéric Bamvuginyumvira was tipped as the preferred opposition candidate for the summer 2015 presidential elections. The former vice-president was accused of attempting to bribe police in December 2013. He denies the charges, claiming they were intended to block his run for president.

The initial accusations of adultery and bribery were dropped in favour of corruption charges, and on 15 January 2015, Bamvuginyumvira was sentenced to five years in prison. A 2014 report by Amnesty International included a section on his case.

Lauren Razavi
The Guardian
27 March 2015

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/mar/27/democracy-behind-bars-11-opposition-leaders-facing-jail-or-death

25 March 2015

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24 March 2015

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TMI

Putrajaya paid an excess of RM109 million for a private jet for the Prime Minister’s use from Jet Premier One (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd? (JPO), a private company who had acquired the aircraft from Air Luther AG, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said today.

Its secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said that this amount was derived from the current market value of the ACJ320 compared to the price the Malaysian government had paid to JPO.

“JPO sold the ACJ320 private jet at a hire purchase price, causing Putrajaya to pay a higher price from the cost that it would incur if it had bought the jet itself, without JPO,” he said in a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.

Rafizi had revealed last week that Putrajaya had ordered a new private aircraft for Najib’s use, which was later confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Office, who said the Airbus corporate jetliner was purchased to replace the 16-year-old Boeing business jet.

Rafizi had said last week that the new purchase brings the tally to seven aircraft owned by the government.

Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul said today that it was unacceptable for the government to have bought the jet at a marked up price at a time when the people were upset over the increasing prices of goods and the impending goods and services tax (GST).

“This is like double jeopardy… when the people are suffering, they buy a jet and on top of that, they buy it at a marked up price,” he added.

Rafizi said that he would reveal the owner of JPO, the company that bought the jet from Air Luther and sold it to the government, in a press conference tomorrow.

The Pandan MP had revealed yesterday that Putrajaya had spent US$8 million (RM28 million) to upgrade the recently-purchased private jet for the use of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his family.

“The US$8 million was included in the sale price which was the base of the hire purchase price of RM465 million that was borne by the Malaysian government,” he had said.

24 March 2015

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TMI

Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur hari ini menetapkan Jumaat untuk mendengar permohonan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berhubung kebenaran semakan kehakiman bagi mencabar keputusan Komisioner Jeneral Penjara yang menolak permohonannya untuk menghadiri mesyuarat pertama penggal ketiga Parlimen ke-13 yang berakhir 9 April ini.

Hakim Datuk Asmabi Mohamad menetapkan tarikh itu di dalam kamar dengan kehadiran Peguam Kanan Persekutuan Amarjeet Singh yang mewakili Menteri Dalam Negeri dan Komisioner Jeneral Penjara serta peguam Latheefa Koya yang mewakli Anwar.

Pada 18 Mac lepas, Anwar, 67, memfailkan permohonan itu dan menamakan  Menteri Dalam Negeri dan Komisioner Jeneral Penjara sebagai responden pertama dan kedua.

Beliau mengemukakan permohonan pengampunan untuk pembebasan itu pada 24 Februari lalu selepas Mahkamah Persekutuan mengekalkan hukuman penjara lima tahun ke atasnya kerana kesalahan meliwat pembantu peribadinya Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Anwar mendakwa keputusan kedua-dua responden yang tidak membenarkannya menghadiri sidang Dewan Rakyat tersebut adalah tidak berperlembagaan, tidak sah dan terbatal.

Beliau memohon satu perintah bahawa keputusan Komisioner Jeneral Penjara bertarikh 4 Mac lalu dipindahkan ke Mahkamah Tinggi dan dibatalkan melalui satu perintah certiorari.

Turut dipohon ialah perintah berbentuk mandamus yang mewajibkan Komisioner-Jeneral Penjara membenarkan Anwar menghadiri sidang Dewan Rakyat pada 9 Mac hingga 9 April dan satu deklarasi bahawa Anwar berhak menghadiri sidang tersebut.

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