Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Unlawful Detention of Maria Chin Abdullah

Image via Facebook/Teresa Kok

Image via Choo Choy May/Malay Mail Online

Image via Marina Mahathir

Malaysians at a candlelight vigil for Maria Chin Abdullah in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, November 22, 2016. Picture by Choo Choy May

And at Jalan Raja, Kuala Lumpur, November 23, 2016. Picture by Choo Choy May

Malaysian women march to Parliament. Picture by Saw Siow Feng

One of those arrested on the eve of the Bersih 5 rally was the polls reform group chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.

Maria Chin's arrest on November 18, 2016. Pix by Ghazali Kori 
Post-Bersih 5, everyone had been released – except Maria. Her arrest was made under the iron clad Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012. SOSMA, which was enacted to fight terrorism allows the authorities to hold individuals without trial for 28 days and deny legal aid for two days.
She is now in her sixth day of detention.
Suhakam has confirmed that she is being held in solitary confinement in an undisclosed location and forced to sleep on a wooden bed, without even a mattress. It is said that her windowless cell is only 15 feet by 8 feet and where two light bulbs are switched on around the clock.  
Already, an online petition opposing the use of SOSMA against the 60-year-old activist has reached its target of 40,000 signatures. The #MansuhSosma and #BebasMaria petition on demands Maria's unconditional release of Maria and SOSMA's repeal.
“When tabling the Bill in Parliament in 2011, the Government assured and promised Malaysians repeatedly that SOSMA would not be used on the basis of differences in political ideology, but it is evident today that the administration led by Prime Minister Najib Razak is reneging on its promise,” the petition read. “In our view, this is a clear abuse of legislative and executive powers”.
Candlelight vigils are being held at Dataran Merdeka to demand for her release. On Monday, there were about three hundred protestors. A day later, that modest number swelled to nearly 800.
So much so that the Kuala Lumpur mayor closed the whole iconic square from 5 PM till 7 AM every day, starting from Tuesday until November 29, 2016.
Already, on that Tuesday itself, a habeas corpus application was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court challenging Maria’s detention.
On Wednesday, some five hundred women (and men) had marched to Parliament making the same demand. And also calling for SOSMA to be abolished.
That evening, about 600 people (according to Malay Mail Online) had again assembled at Jalan Raja, a mere 20 meters from Dataran Merdeka – undeterred. The Inspector-General of Police himself had proclaimed the gatherings illegal.
Civil society, the Malaysian Bar, opposition politicians and ordinary Malaysians are calling for Maria’s immediate release.
PM Najib must start recognizing the right to peaceful assembly. That is a right guaranteed under the Constitution.
Demonstrating for free, fair and clean elections cannot be wrong, by any definition. The use of SOSMA to detain Maria Chin Abdullah is, therefore, unlawful.

Our courts have only one option and that is, to put things right.  
Malaysians cry out against injustice! The power of the people had long ago been usurped by the UMNO politicians.
Only Malaysians can save the country! Fight, fight, fight!

No comments: