Drop all charges against human rights defenders

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Suaram condemns the continued harassment of human rights defenders in Malaysia. We condemn the charge against Lena Hendry of Komas, under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002 by the Home Ministry (KDN) and Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

On July 3, 2013, the Home Ministry, police and Immigration Department raided the the Kuala Lumpur and the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, the venue where the movie 'No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka' was being screened.

They then arrested Lena, Komas executive director Arul Prakash and director Anna Har. The officers also forced the audience to produce their MyKads before letting them off.

‘No Fire Zone’ is a documentary which highlights the atrocities committed by the Sri Lanka government and the military on its civilians.

Through the authorities’ actions, Suaram questions the Malaysian government whether this indicates its support for war atrocities by the Sri Lankan government. Does the government support human rights education regarding such atrocities against civilians?

Pusat Komas has existed since 1993 and it has been on the forefront of the advocacy for democracy and human rights in Malaysia through creative media.

They have highlighted many human rights issues involving grassroot communities. Any charge against a distinguished human rights defender from this organisation puts the country into shame and degrades the government's status on human rights promotion in the country, especially Malaysia's position in the UN Human Rights Council.

The recent harassment of Suaram, which came to nought, should have taught the police about the futility and embarrassment of such attempts at witch-hunting NGOs. We would like to advice the Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to stop such time-wasting investigations.

The police have more onerous duties to do to quickly solve the public security crisis in Malaysia today.

We urge government agencies to immediately drop the charges against Lena and the harassment of NGOs and other human rights defenders.

R THEVARAJAN is coordinator of human rights NGO Suaram.


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