Friday, 22 June 2007

FORUM-ASIA Press Statement: Malaysia - Condemns the Detention of Two Human Rights Defenders

Sent: Monday, June 18, 2007 4:32 PM

(Bangkok, 18 June 2007) FORUM-ASIA, in its open letter to the Chief of Johor Bahru Police Stateion, Mr. Nor Hashim, condemns the arrest of two human rights defenders, Nyam Kee Han and See Siew Min, which occurred on 17 June 2007. The two human rights defenders are working with Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM).

Nyam Kee Han and See Siew Min were arrested at around 11.00 am on 17 June 2007 while handing out leaflets at a demonstration in front of the residence of Menteiri Besar (Chief Executive of the State).

The peaceful demonstration was meant to draw the Chief Executive's attention to the rising crime rate in Johor Bahru. The two defenders were handing out leaflets calling for the immediate creation of the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), recommended by the Royal Commission, to push for the police reform.

At present the defenders have not been given any concrete information about the charges they face, but it is believed that they will be charged with illegally demonstrating and handing out leaflets against the sedition law. Mr. Anselmo Lee, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA said in the open letter that, "As a member state to the United Nations, this charge is not acceptable. Malaysia must abide by the international obligations, which protect the right to freedom of assembly. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) stresses that 'no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.'"

The open letter state that Malaysia must follow the 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which states that human rights defenders have the "right, individually and in association with others…to meet or assemble peacefully". "We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the two activists. This action will demonstrate the Malaysian government's respect for human rights standards and the international treaties to which the Malaysian government is a party," stressed Mr. Lee.

FORUM-ASIA also asks specific UN experts to take immediate action on this matter:
  • UN Special representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Hila Jilani; and,
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, Ms. Manuela Carmena Castriollo, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Ms. Soledad Villagra, Mr. Tamas Ban, and Mr. Seyed Mohammad Hashemi.
Sincerely yours

Anselmo Lee
Executive Director

For further information, please contact Mr. Anselmo Lee, Executive Director, FORUM-ASIA, +662 391 8801 (ext. 502), Mr. Pokpong Lawansiri, Human Rights Defenders Program, +662 391 8801 (ext. 606)


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