Monday, April 21, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat in joint motion to Abolish ISA

Pakatan MPs' joint motion to abolish ISA
Mkini- Athi Veeranggan Apr 21, 08 11:09am

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition will table a motion at forthcoming parliamentary sitting to demand for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA).At the same time they will also be calling for the release of all ISA detainees, believed to be about 80 at present.Malaysiakini learnt that the Pakatan, which has 82 opposition MPs, will table the motion on the first day of the sitting on April 28. It is learnt a joint committee of Pakatan Rakyat is drafting the motion.

Parliamentary Opposition Leader and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is expected to table the motion, which would also include the demand for the immediate release of the five detained Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders.

In an immediate response, DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng declared his party’s undivided and unanimous support to the motion.“A detention without trial under the ISA law is against human rights, against liberty of individuals and against teachings of all religions.“DAP will also support a motion to abolish ISA and to secure an immediate release of all ISA detainees, including the Hindraf five,” he said, after speaking at a forum on ISA organised by the Makkal Sakti group in Penang on Saturday.Under the tough ISA law, a person can be detained without trial at the Kamunting Detention Centre near Taiping for a period of two years and more according to the discretion of the Home Ministry.The most recent detainees were the five Hindraf leaders - P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan, V Ganabatirau and T Vasanthakumar, all of whom were detained on Dec 13 last year for allegedly being a national threat.
Other famous names to have been detained under ISA previously were PKR de facto leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, DAP supreme and former opposition leader Lim Kit Siang and the party national chairman Karpal Singh. Guan Eng too has been an ISA detainee.

Denying an elected rep’s right

One of the Hindraf 5 - Manoharan - also won a state seat in Selangor for DAP in the March 8 general election while contesting as a detainee from Kamunting.DAP’s Bukit Gelugor MP and party chairperson Karpal Singh had noted that Manoharan’s victory was a clear message that the constituents in the state seat of Kota Alam Shah did not perceive him as a threat to the security of the state.
Lim said the continued detention of Manoharan was not right and against the aspiration of Kota Alam Shah constituents.Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, he said, should initiate the necessary steps to release Manoharan immediately to enable him to swear-in and take his rightful place in the Selangor state legislative assembly.By detaining, Manoharan had been denied the right to serve his constituents and vice-versa,” said the Penang Chief Minister.
He said the Pakatan Rakyat’s success in winning five state governments was an unambiguous signal to the federal government that the people were against ISA and other suppressive and oppressive laws in the country.Last month’s general election saw Pakatan Rakyat capturing Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Selangor and Perak.“People in these five states were clear in their opposition against ISA. The federal government, the prime minister and home minister should heed to the people’s demand“In their message, the electorates were unambiguous that they disliked oppressive, suppressive, abusive and undemocratic laws and orders,” said Lim.

Listen to the people

Penang Deputy Chief Minister Prof P Ramasamy told Makkal Sakti supporters at the forum that the DAP would exhaust all means and ways to secure the release of the Hindraf five soon."The DAP will surely raise the issue in the Parliament at first instance," he said.He said the federal government can no longer turn a blind eye and deaf ear to populist demand and people's wish.
He reminded Makkal Sakti supporters to remember the struggle of the Hindraf five, and also self-exiled Hindraf president P Waythamoorthy, for the minority community."Their struggle was a call for righteous, freedom, democracy and equality."The government must listen to the people and immediately release the Hindraf five without any condition," Ramasamy said.
This will be the first time five state governments in the country and the parliamentary opposition MPs have joined forces to unanimously support a motion to demanding the federal government to release ISA detainees and abolish the colonial act.

Vasanthakumar visits his daughter admitted in Hospital

Pics from Mkini

KUALA LUMPUR: A father and daughter share a special bond, and this was proven yesterday in the case of V. Vishaleny and K. Vasantha Kumar. Four-year-old Vishaleny, who is being warded at a private hospital in Cheras for severe viral fever, had asked to see her father, a Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) coordinator who is being held under ISA detention in Kamunting. A Special Branch officer had gone to the hospital at noon to inform the family that Vasantha Kumar would be brought to the hospital later yesterday. A large number of police and Special Branch officers were stationed at the hospital from 1pm until Vasantha Kumar arrived at 5pm. The detainee spent about 40 minutes with his sick daughter before being whisked away.

A small group of Hindraf supporters gathered outside the hospital to catch a glimpse of Vasantha Kumar. Vasantha Kumar’s wife, K. Vickneswary, said Vishaleny was asleep when her father arrived and was too dazed to say much to him. “All she said was “Appa (father), why you came so late?”‘ said Vickneswary. Vickneswary said Vasantha Kumar was troubled to see his daughter so ill. “I could see the tears in his eyes and I can understand why. Both our children have never been seriously ill or admitted to hospital before this,” said Vickneswary. The couple have another daughter, six-year-old Kayatirri.

Vickneswary thanked Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar for his compassion in allowing her husband to visit their daughter.

In Penang, Hindraf co-ordinator R.S. Thanenthiran appealed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release its five leaders detained under the ISA. He said Abdullah had shown to be a man of compassion when he acknowledged the pain and loss suffered by the six Supreme Court judges who were sacked in 1988.

HINDRAF leader P. Wathyamoorthy was in Geneva since last week 17th April 2008,Thursday and just return back to UK yesterday, 20th April 2008 Sunday. He has addressed the United Nations Human Rights Commission on the plights of the Malaysian Indians who have been deprived despite being the citizens of Malaysia.
He had total of 10 meetings with various organizations and individuals under UN in Geneva.
It is expected that the current BN government will implement programmes to uplift the Indian community and also to immediately release the 5 HINDRAF detainees held under the ISA in Kamunting Detention Centre who had just voiced for the concern of their community.

Letter to PM from Int. Bar Asso. Human Rights Inst. (IBAHRI)

Saturday, 19 April 2008 11:47am

Dear Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,

Re: Concern over detention of five men under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia
We are writing on behalf of the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) to express our concern about the detention of five lawyers under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia.
In its role as a dual membership organisation, comprising 30,000 individual lawyers and over 195 Bar Associations and Law Societies, the IBA influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession. Its Member Organisations cover all continents.
The Human Rights Institute works across the association, helping to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
We understand that P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan, and T. Vasanthakumar, reportedly the leaders and legal advisors of Malaysia’s Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), were detained on 13 December 2007 under a detention order issued by the Minister of Home Affairs. We understand that these men were detained following a peaceful HINDRAF demonstration on 25 November 2007 protesting discriminatory government policies against the ethnic Indian population in Malaysia. Reports indicate that the charges against the five men include undermining national security and public order by threatening racial and religious harmony amongst Malaysia’s Malay, Indian and Chinese communities.

The IBAHRI has also learnt that on 26 February 2008, a habeas corpus application filed on behalf of the detainees was rejected by the Kuala Lumpur High Court Judicial Commissioner Zainal Azman Ab Aziz, thus confirming that the detention order was valid under the law.

However, reports received by the IBAHRI suggest that the charges brought against the five detained men under the ISA, namely breaching national security and public order, may not be based in fact and do not reflect the alleged actions of the five men. Therefore, the IBAHRI is concerned that their detention under the ISA may be arbitrary and unlawful. Furthermore, we understand that the five detainees have been linked without evidence to a terrorist organisation and we are concerned that the use of the Act in this way could indicate an abuse of process.
In addition to our specific concerns about the application of the ISA as it relates to the five arrests detailed above, we would also like to highlight a number of broader issues relating to the Act and its application in the context of peaceful demonstrations in Malaysia.

We understand that the Act gives power to the Minister of Home Affairs to issue detention orders against any member of civil society. Furthermore, detainees can be held up to 60 days without warrant, trial or access to legal counsel on suspicion that they have ‘acted or are about to act or are likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof’. Further, we understand that after 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.
The ISA therefore establishes the conditions for long term and arbitrary detention without trial and contravenes the right to legal counsel, the right to defend oneself in an open court and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; principles which are protected and guaranteed under international law.

The IBAHRI would also like to point out that the prohibition of unlawful detention and the right to habeas corpus are recognised as key principles of customary international law and are therefore applicable to all states, even those that have yet to sign any international human rights treaties.

In this context, the IBAHRI would like to remind you that Malaysia is a founding member of the Association of South Asian Nations (ASEAN). Under the ASEAN Charter signed by Malaysia in 2007, and as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Malaysia is required to ‘promote and protect’ human rights. Malaysia’s Constitution also contains a number of human rights provisions including the right to freedom of expression, the right to free assembly and the right to form associations (Article 10).

We would also like to remind you of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers which provides standards by which lawyers worldwide should be treated. Principle 23 upholds that ‘lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief and association and assembly’. Further, Principle 18 states that ‘lawyers shall not be identified with their client or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions’. The IBAHRI is concerned that the detention of the five lawyers under the ISA may be in breach of the above provisions.

Finally, the IBAHRI has received reports that the health of the detainees has deteriorated during the course of their detention and that urgent medical attention may be required. In particular, reports have been received suggesting that P. Uthayakumar has been denied diabetes medication essential for regulating his condition and maintaining his health. Article 22 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners stipulates that ‘sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialised institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers’. We request that urgent medical attention should be made immediately available to all detainees if required.

The IBAHRI would like to receive your assurances that the issues raised above relating to what might constitute unlawful detention of the five men be promptly investigated and that, if the detention is found to be arbitrary, the detainees be immediately released. Furthermore, in light of the concerns relating to the broader application of the ISA as detailed above, we call upon the Malaysian Government to bring to trial all those currently detained under the Act. All those charged must be tried in accordance with international standards and, if not found guilty of any criminal offence, promptly released.
We further request that urgent medical attention is provided to P. Uthayakumar and to all other detainees who may require it.

Yours sincerely,

Ambassador Emilio Cárdenas
Co-Chair, Human Rights Institute

Justice Richard J. Goldstone
Co-Chair, Human Rights Institute

CC: Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia