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(Updated July 3) Malaysia: Socialists abused in custody; Philippine socialist detained; More arrests

Manila, July 1, 2011 – Members of Partido Lakas ng Masa held another picket in front of the Malaysian embassy today.  PLM protested the arrest and detention of 30 pro-democracy activisits in Malaysia, including Romy Castillo, deputy general-secretary of PLM, who was in Malaysia for an exchange visit program with the Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

By the Socialist Party of Malaysia

July 1 -- The PSM is alarmed that its detained members are undergoing torture and inhumane interrogation from special Bukit Aman officers who have been brought specifically to extract information as most of those detained have preferred to use their rights under the law to speak to the court and not to the police.

Reliable sources from the police and those detained have confirmed that the police seem to be not making any headway in their investigation and hence they have brought in the thugs from Bukit Aman as a last minute bid to extract information.

PSM calls for the immediate release of all detainees and, if the need be, we call for them to be bailed or to be charged immediately. We call upon the police to stop all harassment, torture and inhumane treatment immediately.

Among the shocking revelations of the torture unleashed by the Bukit Aman team are:

Solitary confinement  

  • All the seven detainees in IPK are placed in solitary confinement and we learned that some others at Butterworth and Kepala Batas have since yesterday been placed under solitary confinement.
  • This practice is illegal and is most commonly used during the first 60 days of ISA torture.
  • These detainees are also interrogated long hours between 9 am until 5 pm daily.

Denied access to legal representatives

  • In spite being a constitutional right – the right to a lawyer – all detainees have been denied their lawyer from meeting them except for the two juveniles.

Denied visitation rights

  • Six people have been denied visitation rights; they are Dr Jeyakumar – member of parliament; M. Saraswathy – national deputy chairperson; Choo Chon Kai – PSM central committee member; M. Sukumaran – CC member; Letchumanan – Sg Siput branch secretary; and Sarath Babu – PSM youth leader.
  • The police have stated that they are denied visitation because the investigation is not over and because the detainees are not being cooperative.
  • We are worried about their safety and call for their immediate release.
  • Women detainees in Kepala Batas had a thick glass separating them and their visitors making the conversation difficult and a mockery.

Denied medication

  • Some of those detained have complained that they have been denied medication in spite of their health conditions.
  • Some detainees who need special food due to their health conditions are denied these foods and are given normal foods like other detainees.

Inhumane, demoralisation and foul language

  • Most detainees have complained that the Bukit Aman Team has also employed degrading foul language and are called things like “pariah” and other degrading language.
  • Some detainees are also forced to stand during the entire interrogation, therefore torture and punishment seem to be the order of the day rather than investigation.

Denied basic items

  • Most detainees were denied basic items such as soap and toothpaste and some were only given yesterday, despite the fact that these items were provided by families to the police on Monday to be passed to the detainees.

Denied sufficient drinking water

  • Most detainees complain that water were only given during meals and not at other times.
  • Some Hindu detainees were also given beef to eat.

The PSM views this is a gross human rights violation and calls for SUHAKAM and other international human rights bodies  to intervene. The PSM also feels strongly that real investigation is over and what the detainees are undergoing now is sheer torture and punishment.

We call for their immediate release. We hold the Penang CPO, Inspector General of Police as well as the home minister responsible if anything befalls our comrades.

* * *

Romeo Castillo, a comrade from Philippines who came over for a month-long study trip with the PSM has been detained in the airport. He has been taken into custody under the pretext of immigration problems but it is actually to investigate his link with PSM.

Currently the local and international pressure has enabled us to visit the detainees. Thank you to all comrades for all your actions. We urge you to continue your pressure, so that the police will release the 30 PSM and Comrade Romeo Castillo as soon as possible.
 

Let Ka Romy come home! Release the 30 Malaysian socialists!

By Partido Lakas ng Masa

July 1, 2011

Manila – Members of Partido Lakas ng Masa held another picket in front of the Malaysian embassy today.  PLM protested the arrest and detention of 30 pro-democracy activisits in Malaysia, including Romy Castillo, deputy general-secretary of PLM, who was in Malaysia for an exchange visit program with the Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

The wife of Romy Castillo, Tess Castillo, spoke at the picket and pleaded with the Malaysian embassy officials to press its government to release Romy and the 30 others.

Castillo was arrested on June 25 on charges of joining a pro-democracy rally, calling for free and genuine elections. He was taken, together with several others, from a bus en route to the supposed rally site.  He was released on bail.

Yesterday, Castillo was detained at the Kuala Lumpur immigration office and was not allowed to board his flight to Manila. The immigration authorities later said that they were deporting him via Malaysian airlines 840. But instead of bringing him to the plane, he was handcuffed and forcibly taken by the police to the Balai Police Sepang under IPD Sepang. The police took his passport and said they will have to verify if it is genuine.

The police investigation is under Officer ASP Hairul (+60196664953).

PLM has already contacted the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Consul-General Renato Villa said the embassy will follow up Ka Romy’s case. The matter has already been brought to the attention of the Commission on Human Rights and the Overseas Filipino Workers Affairs Office at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.

If Ka Romy is not released soon, PLM vows to stage a bigger rally on Tuesday (July 5).

Urgent action needed

Please write protest letters to the Malaysian government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the arrests and the crackdown on the PSM activists. Please also demand that the Malaysian government to release all the activists and to respect the freedom of expression as stated in Article 10 of federal constitution. Please demand the government stop the crackdown on the PSM and drop  the absurd allegations leveled against it.

SAMPLE LETTER

[Letterhead of your organisation]

1. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,

Prime Minister of Malaysia,

Prime Minister's Office,

Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,

Federal Government Administrative Centre,

62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA

Tel: 603-8888 8000

Fax: 603-8888 3444

E-Mail: ppm@pmo.gov.my

 

Dear Sir,

Re: Release all those detained and stop on- going crackdown on Malaysian socialists

We are writing to you, to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government's on-going crackdown and the arrest of the 30 PSM Activists and Romeo Castillo.

We are appalled by your government and the police's latest actions and view this as an  attempt by your government to intimidate Malaysian citizens from exercising their civil and political rights

We further demand that your government stops the assault on freedom of expression and release all the 30 PSM Activists and Romeo Castillo immediately.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

Cc To:

1. Inspector-General of Police

Tan Sri Ismail Omar,
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613

2. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam,

Chairman,

Malaysian Human Rights Commission,

Level 11, Menara TH Perdana,

Jalan Sultan Ismail,

50250 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03 26125600

Fax: 03 26125620

3. Mr. Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
Email: freedex@ohchr.or

4. Ms. Margaret Sekaggya,

Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights defenders,

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Email: defenders@ohchr.orgurgent-action@ohchr.org

5. Christine Chung,
Human Rights Officer,
Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights,
Asia Pacific Section, Asia Pacific and Middle East Branch,
Field Operation & Technical Cooperation,<
OHCHR - Palais Wilson,
United Nationas Office at Geneva,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland.
Tel:  +41 (0) 229289673
Fax: +41 (0) 22928 9018
Email: cchung@ohchr.org

 

Malaysia: more arrests and threats against human rights defenders

July 2, 2011 -- SUARAM condemns the continuing campaign of intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders by the government of Malaysia. Since 22 June, over 100 individuals have been arrested because they have expressed their support for a mass rally on 9 July, called for by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0).

Political activists rearrested

6 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, Dr Jeyakumar (Member of Parliament), have been rearrested earlier today under the Emergency Ordinance (EO), which allows for 60 day detention without trial, renewable for up to 2 years at the discretion of the Home Minister.[1] The 6 were part of a group of 30 PSM activists who were remanded on 25 June for “waging war against the King”.

The PSM members had been on a road show as part of their Udahlah BN, Bersaralah (Enough BN, Retire Now) campaign, launched on 24 June. The campaign aims to expose the corruption of the BN government and also to drum up support for the Bersih 2.0 rally.

Dr Jeyakumar and the other 5 PSM activists are now being transported to police headquarters in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur. The Emergency Ordinance and the Internal Security Act (ISA) have frequently been used to stifle dissent and opposition to the government.

Media ordered to demonise Bersih 2.0 rally

Malaysiakini reports that the authorities have launched a media campaign to paint the rally as an “illegal gathering” in an effort to discourage citizens to participate.[2] The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) invited 22 electronic media and telecommunications operators to attend a 1 day seminar entitled "Content Monitoring Seminar 2011" at its auditorium in Cyberjaya.

According to Malaysiakini, which obtained a copy of the invitation, the aim of the seminar is to “discuss compliance with licensing criteria and other relevant provisions”. Attendees were advised by the MCMC to refrain from referring to the rally as “Bersih rally” but as an “illegal gathering” in their media coverage and also to discourage citizens from attending. Attendees were also told to avoid using footage of police brutality and to focus instead on the inconveniences of the rally, from traffic jams to loss of business.

Najib slams Bersih 2.0 organisers

Prime Minister Najib Razak has personally gone all out to vilify the Bersih 2.0 organisers, especially S. Ambiga, who sits on the Bersih 2.0 steering committee. In his most recent attack, he was quoted as saying “Ambiga should not think herself so strong. We will not budge at all in fighting for the truth. We will keep our claws”, during a gathering in Kelantan.[3] Najib also potrayed Ambiga as a threat to Islam, working hand in hand with newly elected Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) vice president, Mohamad Sabu.

SUARAM finds these charges against the PSM activists ridiculous and indicative of a panicking government - bankrupt of ideas and clinging onto power with any and all means necessary. The political climate has gone from bad to worse, with the government clearly confusing the issue of electoral reform with some bogeyman that threatens its hold on power. The mass media and other government institutions are continually confusing civil society demands with a ‘hidden opposition agenda’.

Ministers and supposedly independents institutions such as the Election Commission are going out of their way to paint Bersih 2.0 as ‘troublemakers’. The deputy Inspector-General of Police has come out to say no more negotiations will be held with the Bersih 2.0 rally organisers. He has also not discounted the possibility of using the ISA against participants, echoing a similar statement made by Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein. At the same time, very little has been said and done to address the core issue, which is the need for electoral reform to help provide a level playing field for all parties.

SUARAM is appalled by the arrests and the on-going crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, a fundamental right which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

SUARAM demands that the government stop this campaign of intimidation against human rights defenders and allow them to continue to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

SUARAM also demands that the rally be allowed to continue and that the police so take all possible steps to ensure the safety of the participants.

Released by Hasbeemasputra Abu Bakar, Suaram coordinator

[1] PSM 6 re-arrested under EO after release
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/168697

[2] TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rally
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/168567

[3] Najib tells Ambiga: We’ll keep our claws
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/168711

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