Rabu, 28 Oktober 2015

Anwar Ibrahim

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Anwar Ibrahim

Pledge broken as Najib critics hit by wave of prosecutions

Posted: 28 Oct 2015 03:55 AM PDT

Call to act – Leaders set for Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia

by The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

Malaysia’s government has embarked on a “binge” of prosecutions against its critics, using criminal laws to crush peaceful expression, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a new 145-page report, Human Rights Watch documents the arrests of scores of people with critical views, including opposition politicians, activists, journalists and ordinary citizens, as well as the suspension of two critical newspapers, the blocking of websites and the declaration that peaceful protests were unlawful.

The New York-based organisation released the report on Tuesday, ahead of a summit of world leaders in Kuala Lumpur next month, expected to include Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Barack Obama.

Revealing details of little-known cases, Human Rights Watch said the summit will present an opportunity for world leaders to press Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to reform draconian laws and end censorship.

Mr Najib, fighting for his political life over an alleged corruption scandal, promised to “uphold civil liberties” and “regard for the fundamental rights of the people” when he took office in 2009.

But Human Rights Watch said repression intensified after Mr Najib’s long-ruling coalition lost the popular vote but managed to retain power because of a gerrymandered voting system in elections in 2013. The organisation said the government’s use of the criminal code to silence peaceful expression violates international legal standards.

The report details the relentless pursuit of Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, one of Asia’s best-known political cartoonists under the pen name Zunar, who faces up to 43 years’ jail on charges including nine counts of sedition, one for each of nine tweets he sent criticising a court’s decision upholding a sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The jailing of Dr Anwar for five years is widely seen as part of a political vendetta against the politician who presented the biggest challenge to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party that has ruled the country for decades.

Human Rights Watch said among the many troubling cases documented in the report is that of University of Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom, who is facing trial on charges of sedition for expressing his legal opinion that actions taken by the government six years ago were illegal.

“I was a law professor expressing a legal opinion,” Dr Azmi said.

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said Mr Najib has broken promises to revise laws that criminalise peaceful expression.

“Instead, Malaysia has gone on a binge of prosecution of critics,” Mr Adams said.

“The government is making a mockery of its claims to democracy and fundamental rights by treating criticism as a crime”.


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