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)

12 December 2015

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Joint press release

Malaysia: Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim must be freed

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

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/malaysia/former-opposition-leader-anwar-ibrahim-must-be-freed

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.

(more…)

29 November 2015

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Warkah DS Anwar Ibrahim

Dibaca oleh YB Nurul Izzah di Kongres Nasional KEADILAN pada 29 November 2015


Presiden yang dicintai, Timbalan Presiden dan pimpinan semua peringkat yang dikasihi.

Assalammualaikum dan salam sejahtera.

Seringkali dalam keheningan.., fikiran melayang menembusi tembok ke Segambut bersama Azizah dan keluarga. Dengan segar saya pastinya merayau menyapa teman dan pejuang yang terpaksa berhempas pulas diluar, serta kepasrahan rakyat yang diselubungi kesempitan hidup dan tekanan sistem “istibdat”.

Dalam bingkisan sempena kongres kali ini, saya cenderung untuk memberikan tumpuan kearah penjanaan kekuatan jemaah; dengan mengajak saudara – saudari  berbaiah dengan khitah asas perjuangan. Dengan sendirinya landasan tersebut  menolak faham kabilah; kesetiaan peribadi kepada Anwar dan tokoh lainnya.

Maka amat menyegarkan manakala membaca kenyataan tokoh – tokoh baru dan pimpinan muda yang menyertai KEADILAN baru – baru ini. Mereka menekankan dasar perjuangan kearah pemerkasaan rakyat ; memperjuangkan keadilan dan kemanusian!

Peringatan al quranul kareem agar menyerahkan amanah kepada ahlinya; terikat dengan akhlak dan etika serta apa yang kini diungkapkan sebagai “democratic accountability”. Seharusnya pimpinan disemua peringkat yang arif dengan saranan ” taklif wala tasyri”. Tanggungjawab bukan keistimewaan wajar menghayatinya sekaligus memaknai intipati perjuangan.

Menyingkap teori  Ibnu Khaldun mengenai pasang surut perjuangan dari tahap “umran badawi” ke “umran hadari”, perjuangan kebangsaan; malah sejak gejolak Reformasi sendiri – tahap awal lebih diwarnai dengan kegigihan dan keberanian tanpa sebarang habuan.

Masa beredar dan kita kini tercabar untuk menguji kekuatan dan bermuhasabah setelah merasai sedikit nikmat dan kedudukkan, ditambah dengan gelaran. Justru itu saya anjurkan supaya kita kembali kepada “khitah”.

W.S Rendra melontarkan mutiara kata :

” kesedaran adalah matahari
Kesabaran adalah bumi
Keberanian menjadi cakrawala
Dan perjuangan adalah pelaksanaan
Kata-kata”

Saya gariskan perkataan “pelaksanaan kata – kata” dengan mengajukan pertanyaan :

Apakah benar kita setia berbaiah dengan perjuangan dan tidak khayal dengan mantra pujian staf sekeliling atau kroni ?

Sejauhmanakah kita mengamalkan musyuwarah dalam memutuskan isu dasar ?

Apakah terdapat bisikan sehingga yakin dengan  keegoan diri, kehandalan dan populariti peribadi mengatasi jemaah ?

Tidak terjebakkah kita dengan amalan “clientehism” sepertimana yang dilontarkan oleh penulis Francis  Fukuyama dalam karyanya ‘ Political order ‘ menjelaskan sebagai satu penyakit yang menghampiri rasuah, menganugerahkan jabatan atau habuan kepada kelompok kecil dengan mengenepikan kelayakkan dan prestasi ?
Dan persoalan asas – berhasilkah kita dengan tekad mempertahankan idealisme perjuangan serta menghindari ketamakkan dan kebejatan ?

Tanpa kecuali, persoalan tersebut ditujukan kepada semua pimpinan di semua peringkat.

Membina ketahanan diri, membenamkan rasa iri hati dan cemburu, mengelak fitnah senang dibicarakan namun ukuran akhir adalah “Pelaksanaan Kata – Kata!!”

Kesenjangan diantara idealisme dan kenyataan perlu dirapatkan dan dengan sendirinya  terungkai permasalahan kesenjangan pendapatan golongan mahakaya dan yang miskin papa kedana.

Politik negara kian terapung…ibarat hanyut tanpa berhaluan. Keretakan kian ketara. Malangnya..rakyat terhimpit dengan tekanan hidup akibat kebijakkan ekonomi yang tersasul, memelihara kepentingan kelompok mahakaya dan mendera majoriti rakyat miskin…

Justru itu saudara – saudaraku…
Bangunlah dengan yakin dalam saf yang kukuh – “ban yanun massus” seperti dilakar A. SAMAD SAID :

” Berdiri kita setegap
Berdiri kita sederap,
Meragut cengkaman kawat.
….

Inilah tekad generasi baru
Akarnya keadilan syahda.”

Reformasi! Reformasi! Reformasi!

Anwar Ibrahim

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.

(more…)

23 November 2015

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Malaysiakini

ULASAN l Saya dengar daripada lima orang – rakyat Malaysia dan juga rakyat Amerika Syarikat serta mereka yang dalam kedudukan untuk tahu, bahawa pada pertemuannya dengan Datuk Seri Najib Razak pada 20 November lalu, Presiden Barack Obama menggesa perdana menteri Malaysia untuk membebaskan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dari penjara.

Permintaan itu dilaporkan atas dasar kemanusiaan, kerana kesihatan Anwar yang semakin merosot. Bagiamanapun pendirian kerajaan Amerika adalah bahawa perbicaraan Anwar adalah pincang dan bermotifkan politik, dan bahawa Anwar adalah tahanan politik.

Seorang sumber memberitahu saya bahawa jawapan Najib adalah beliau terpaksa mematuhi sistem undang-undang Malaysia. Bagi saya, ia adalah ironis bahawa Najib mahu bersembunyi di sebalik sistem undang-undang Malaysia, sedangkan dirinya sendiri tidak teragak-agak untuk menggunakan dan menyalahgunakannya untuk kepentingan politik peribadi.

Dan ia bukan hanya digunakan ke atas pembangkang sahaja lagi. Sekarang Najib menggunakannya terhadap pengkritik dalam parti sendiri, dan juga penyiasat yang semakin hampir menemui kebenaran.

Banyak yang telah berlaku sejak permainan golf terkenal pada Disember lalu. Bermula dengan Anwar yang dadapati bersalah pada Februari lalu, muka depan utama akhbar New York Times memperincikan semua dakwaan rasuah sekitar Najib dan keluarganya.

Poortal Sarawak Report pula mendedahkan lebih banyak dokumen mengenai 1MDB dan berbilion-bilion ringgit yang hilang. Semua laporan 1MDB adalah sangat rumit dan sukar difahami. Tetapi The Wall Street Journal kemudiannya menerbitkan sebuah artikel yang semua orang boleh faham. Sebanyak AS$700 juta (RM2.6 bilion) didakwa berakhir di akaun bank peribadi Najib, dan berminggu-minggu, beliau tidak dapat menjelaskan bagaimana wang itu berada di akaunnnya.

Dan kemudian, secara tiba-tiba, sebahagian besar wang didakwa dibawa keluar negara lagi – tetapi tiada siapa yang tahu di mana, dan Najib tidak bercakap. Semua orang dapat memahami cerita ini – anda tidak perlu mempunyai MBA dalam kewangan antarabangsa. Kemudian New York Times melaporkan bahawa Najib dan keluarganya sedang disiasat oleh Biro Penyiasatan Persekutuan (FBI) di bawah Inisiatif Pemulihan Aset Kleptokrasi. Apa punya nama!

Bagihak-hak asasi manusia dan demokrasi, tindakan keras Najib ke atas pembangkang telah dilaporkan secara meluas oleh media barat. Pemerhati Hak Asasi Manusia baru-baru ini mengeluarkan laporan 151 muka surat berhubung “suasana ketakutan” yang dicipta oleh Najib. Tak pernah sebelum ini – 151 muka surat! Kemudian ada kumpulan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu yang baru-baru ini menggesa pembebasan Anwar.

Obama adalah seorang peguam. Beliau sedar bahawa keterangan dan bukti adalah mencukupi dan Najib bukanlah manusia seperti yang difikirkannya. Seperti yang saya katakan sebelum ini, Obama bukannya satu-satunya pemimpin dunia yang percaya dengan retorik pembaharuan Najib.

Tetapi apabila meletakkan semuanya bersama, dan dengan berita-berita tahun ini, ia mencapai tahap di mana Obama akhirnya mengiktiraf realiti mengenai Malaysia dan Najib.

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JOHN MALOTT adalah bekas duta Amerika Syarikat ke Malaysia.

17 November 2015

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The following is a statement by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim issued through his lawyers in respect of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The statement is issued by him in his capacity as Chairman of the World Forum for Muslim Democrats.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the President and people of France and in particular the families and friends of those killed in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Although I speak from a prison cell in Malaysia, having been unjustly denied of my freedom, that does not present an obstacle to the deep sadness and outrage anyone must feel upon hearing of such heinous and despicable acts.
These despicable acts of savage and wanton killing of innocent civilians including women and young persons deserve our unreserved condemnation.  We must join hands with all like minded forces, eschewing all parochial boundaries of race and religion, in one resolute message – that such premeditated and cruel killing is simply not acceptable.
The small group of terrorists did not act alone and those responsible for planning this crime must be brought to justice.
Their objectives were to create fear and perhaps to provoke similar retaliatory actions of hate. It is imperative we ensure that they fail to do so.
We must remember that they do not speak for or represent the overwhelming majority of peace-loving human beings.
Anwar Ibrahim”

12 November 2015

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Human Rights Watch

(Washington, DC) – Malaysian authorities have brought new criminal charges against critics of the government and are showing no signs of easing this year’s intensifying crackdown on free expression, Human Rights Watch said today. Malaysia, currently the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East Asia Summit, and a member of the United Nations Security Council, will host several high-profile summits next week involving the leaders of ASEAN, as well as United States President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among other leaders.

“The Malaysian government has revealed itself as petty, vindictive, and brittle when thrust into the limelight on the eve of important state visits,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Going after activists, journalists, and opposition leaders are not the actions of a confident government committed to promoting respect for human rights, and visiting leaders need to say so.”

On October 27, 2015, Human Rights Watch issued a 140-page report on the intensifying repression in Malaysia, outlining a long series of legal cases against critics of the government, from opposition leaders to cartoonists.

Since mid-October, Malaysian authorities have charged two opposition members of parliament, an opposition activist, and two rally organizers with criminal offenses for exercising their free speech rights. They have also threatened criminal charges against other critical voices and raided the offices of two online news portals reporting on corruption investigations.

These cases cast a chill on civil society and critical reporting by the media, and should top the agenda of bilateral concerns with Malaysian officials. The recent actions include:

  • The authorities charged opposition Members of Parliament Rasiah Sivarasa and Ng Wei Aik with sedition, the latest in a string of opposition politicians charged under the outdated and draconian Sedition Act – at least five others are currently awaiting trial. Sivarasa was charged with sedition on October 20 for a statement he made at a March 2015 rally criticizing the sodomy conviction of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Aik was charged on November 6 for a similar statement made at a rally in February 2015. If convicted and fined more than 2000 Malaysian ringgit (US$455.89), or sentenced to more than one year in prison, these parliamentarians would be discharged from office and disqualified from taking part in politics for five years after their term ends;
  • Police detained activist Khalid Ismath and charged him with three counts of sedition and 11 counts of violating the Communications and Multimedia Act for social media posts that the government alleges are insulting to the sultan of Johor. He was denied bail for more than three weeks. The government responded to opposition Parliamentarian Hanipa Maidan’s criticism of the attorney general for opposing bail for Ismath by opening a sedition investigation of Maidan;
  • The authorities criminally charged Maria Chin Abdullah, chair of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih), and Jannie Lasimbang, vice-chair of Bersih Sabah, with failing to give the police 10 days’ notice for the 34-hour rally that was held peacefully on August 29 and 30. The rally called for institutional reforms to provide governmental accountability to address corruption, and specifically for Prime Minister Najib Razak to explain his handling of the scandal-rocked, government-owned 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). If convicted under section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act, the two activists could be fined up to RM10,000 ($2279.46). Beyond the fact that Bersih twice met with police prior to the rally, thus giving notice, imposing criminal penalties for failure to provide notice of a rally is contrary to international standards for the right to peaceful assembly;
  • The authorities questioned blogger Mohamed Safi Yassin for criminal defamation and criminal intimidation after he posted a warning to the police that abusive police tactics at the then-upcoming Bersih rally would harm their reputation; and
  • The government raided the offices of online news portals Malaysiakini and The Star on November 6, continuing a trend of harassing media that report on corruption. According to Malaysiakini, the raids were in response to an article published on November 2 about the transfer of a deputy-prosecutor in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. After a complaint by the attorney general’s chambers, authorities opened an investigation for criminal defamation by the news portals, raided their offices, and seized computer equipment. The government raided Malaysiakini’s office a second time on November 7. The government in July had suspended publication of two newspapers for three months for their reporting on the 1MDB scandal. That suspension was overturned by the Malaysian High Court in September.

Visiting leaders, including Obama, should press Malaysia’s government to stem the latest round of repression, Human Rights Watch said. They should call on Najib to end the use of criminal defamation, sedition, and other laws to criminalize dissent.

“Exposure of corruption and criticism of the government are essential elements of a rights-respecting democracy,” Sifton said. “The Malaysian government should stop treating criticism as a crime and drop all charges against those being prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.”

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.

 

8 November 2015

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I am gravely concerned by the news that former prime minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the subject of a police investigation for criminal defamation and was questioned by the police on 6 November.
He committed no crime when he asked questions and voiced criticism against the Prime Minister on the 1MDB crisis.
If this is how even Tun Dr Mahathir is treated, the democratic right of ordinary Malaysians to question and criticise the government is in serious jeopardy.
Our constitution and the democratic rights therein guaranteed to our people must not be disregarded or interfered with by government or enforcement agencies.
I have watched with increasing concern the worsening strain of authoritarianism by those in power.
Instead of investigating Tun Dr Mahathir, the PM and the government should answer the important questions that he had raised. These questions are also being asked by ordinary Malaysians throughout the country.
This heavy handed response will only worsen the crisis of confidence in the PM, the government and the institutions involved in trying to silence critics.
I call for an end to this harassment against Dr Mahathir and all others, who have merely done their duty by our country by voicing out against the errors and wrongdoings of the government and its leaders.
Anwar Ibrahim

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