Posted: 11 Nov 2015 04:41 PM PST
(Washington, DC) – Malaysian authorities have brought new criminal charges against critics of the government and are showing no signs of easing this year's intensifying crackdown on free expression, Human Rights Watch said today. Malaysia, currently the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the East Asia Summit, and a member of the United Nations Security Council, will host several high-profile summits next week involving the leaders of ASEAN, as well as United States President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among other leaders.
"The Malaysian government has revealed itself as petty, vindictive, and brittle when thrust into the limelight on the eve of important state visits," said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Going after activists, journalists, and opposition leaders are not the actions of a confident government committed to promoting respect for human rights, and visiting leaders need to say so."
On October 27, 2015, Human Rights Watch issued a 140-page report on the intensifying repression in Malaysia, outlining a long series of legal cases against critics of the government, from opposition leaders to cartoonists.
Since mid-October, Malaysian authorities have charged two opposition members of parliament, an opposition activist, and two rally organizers with criminal offenses for exercising their free speech rights. They have also threatened criminal charges against other critical voices and raided the offices of two online news portals reporting on corruption investigations.
These cases cast a chill on civil society and critical reporting by the media, and should top the agenda of bilateral concerns with Malaysian officials. The recent actions include:
Visiting leaders, including Obama, should press Malaysia's government to stem the latest round of repression, Human Rights Watch said. They should call on Najib to end the use of criminal defamation, sedition, and other laws to criminalize dissent.
"Exposure of corruption and criticism of the government are essential elements of a rights-respecting democracy," Sifton said. "The Malaysian government should stop treating criticism as a crime and drop all charges against those being prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly."
Posted: 11 Nov 2015 04:37 PM PST
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BE a champion of democracy in Asia, a Malaysian human rights leader called on President Benigno Aquino.
He is in the Philippines along with Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah as part of their tour to lobby leaders and friends to support the call for Anwar’s immediate release so he can undergo medical treatment due to serious #124muscle tear in the right shoulder.
Early this year, Malaysia’s highest court found Anwar guilty of sodomising a former political aide.
International critics including the United States slammed the conviction, believing it is part of Malaysia’s crackdown against the opposition.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently found that Anwar is being held illegally and in violation of international law.
“For a long time, especially when Anwar was leading the opposition coalition, our position has been that the government is abusing religious norms to politically persecute those who present the biggest challenge to the government. So, through the findings by the Interparliamentary unit, world leaders and the UN, it proves it really justifies our position that Anwar is innocent, that he has been tried in a politically motivated exercise,” Nurul said.
Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada joined the call for the immediate release of Anwar who, he said, is a personal friend.
When asked if President Aquino has expressed support for their call, Tian said: “We respect the president’s position on being a member of Asean and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of another country.
“However, we believe the president shares a common experience with Nurul’s family. I think he definitely, privately sympathises with the family of Anwar Ibrahim and we were expecting that being president, he should #124be the champion of democracy of this region,” Tian said.
“And being an outgoing president, we hope he can take courage in reminding [Malaysian] Prime Minister Najib [Razak], his counterpart, that Asean as a region must grow in advancing human rights. This is #124our greatest hope. I believe he has the humility and understanding to #124do the right thing. Our #124trip will not be in vain,” Tian said.
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