Posts Tagged ‘Malaysia’

Malaysian Home Minister: Human rights defenders are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”

August 21, 2017

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has criticised human rights defenders today, accusing them of defending criminals instead. While launching his book on the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959 today, the deputy prime minister reportedly alleged critics of the law often masquerade as human rights defenders. “They defend crime syndicates. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing,” he was quoted saying by news portal Malaysiakini. “They claim to defend human rights, but in court, they defend criminals accused by the authorities.”
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has put forth a definition of human rights defenders, two days after the deputy prime minister called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing who protect criminals”. Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail said such individuals were people who work towards the realisation of rights and freedoms contained in the Federal Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments through non-violent means. “The efforts of human rights defenders contribute to positive societal change and play an important role in the establishment of the rule of law. “They certainly cannot be said to be defending crime syndicates and criminals,” he said in a statement today.

Source: Home Minister: Human rights defenders siding with criminals in court | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/home-minister-human-rights-activists-defend-criminals#uREoQ0H4g4AhbZYU.99

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/17/suhakam-human-rights-defenders-do-not-protect-criminals/

Malaysia: Human rights defender Lena Hendry convicted for showing film on Sri Lanka

February 23, 2017

In 2013 I reported on human rights defender, Lena Hendry, in Malaysia who was charged with showing the film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a film on human rights violations in Sri Lanka.  [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/09/18/human-rights-worker-in-malaysia-to-appear-in-court-tomorrow-for-screening-the-film-no-fire-zone/#more-3469]. Now Front Line reports on 21 February 2017, that the human rights defender was convicted by the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Lumpur [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/lena-hendry]. On 21 February 2017, Lena Hendry was found guilty by a magistrate’s court in Kuala Lumpur for screening “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002. She is currently on bail and intends to appeal the court’s decision. Her sentencing is scheduled for 22 March 2017.

Lena Hendry is the former Programme Coordinator for Pusat KOMAS, a human rights organisation established in 1993 in Malaysia. This organisation works to empower indigenous peoples, poor people in urban areas, workers, and civil society organisations through the use of popular media. [On 10 March 2016, The Magistrates’ Court of Kuala Lumpur acquitted Lena Hendry of the charges but  on 21 September 2016, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur reversed Lena Hendry’s aquittal following an appeal issued by the prosecution.

Front Line Defenders condemns the conviction of Lena Hendry, as it believes that the charges brought against the human rights defender are directly linked to her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, in particular in exposing human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Front Line Defenders urges the Malaysian government to repeal provisions of the Film Censorship Act 2002 that allow unnecessary and arbitrary government interference in the showing of films in Malaysia.

 

 

 

 

Malaysian cartoonist Zunar says he will challenge the travel ban

October 18, 2016

immigration
Picture of me at the immigration counter at the airport – political Cartoonist Zunar

Zunar, an award-winning cartoonist whose cartoons are directed towards fighting the tyranny and corruption of the government of Malaysia, was turned back at the airport on 17 October 2016. [see https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/cartoonists-gado-kenya-and-zunar-malaysia-get-2016-cartooning-for-peace-prize/ and https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/urgent-award-winning-cartoonist-zunar-threats-malaysia-support/]. He is as talented with the written word as with drawings, so I let him speak for himself: Read the rest of this entry »

How awards can get it wrong: four controversial decisions in one week!

September 20, 2016

This blog regularly covers human rights awards [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/human-rights-awards/]. Most of the awards end up with the right people or – if needed – decisions get corrected [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/10/russian-protest-artist-pavlensky-stripped-of-havel-prize-over-support-for-violent-partisans/]. This week four controversial cases have come to the fore although they ‘fortunately’ concern more political kind of awards given to more political kind of people. Still instructive for those who consider giving awards: Read the rest of this entry »

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

Read the rest of this entry »

Urgent: award-winning cartoonist Zunar under threat in Malaysia needs support

May 19, 2016

On 3 May 2016 Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was one of the winners of the international Cartooning for Peace Prize [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/cartoonists-gado-kenya-and-zunar-malaysia-get-2016-cartooning-for-peace-prize/].
Back home the backlash has started and he has asked for support:
– Malaysian ministers threaten him anew;
– a government-backed NGO is going to protest at Kofi Annan’s office.
The award was presented by ex-UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the winners were given a chance to exhibit their artworks at Lac Léman in Geneva. Zunar’s cartoons covers issues such as corruption, freedom of expression, conspiracy against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and the new National Security law.
In reaction Deputy-Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi hinted that the police may take action on him. Ahmad Zahid added that he hopes that Zunar will repent and find other ways to express himself. “I think in this regard, I am seeking Allah to open his (Zunar) heart so that he quickly repents and uses other approaches to express opposing opinions,” he said ( http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/05/14/zahid-hopes-zunar-repents-criticise-but-dont-insult/ )

Read the rest of this entry »

Cartoonists Gado (Kenya) and Zunar (Malaysia) get 2016 Cartooning for Peace Prize

May 4, 2016

evenement-prix-international-presse-0

Today – in order to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day on the 3rd of May – it was announced that the 2016 International Editorial Cartoons Prize is awarded to the Kenyan caricaturist, Gado, and the Malaysian cartoonist, Lunar. Some of their cartoons are shown below:

Gado and Zunar remind us how fragile this liberty remains in Africa and in Asia as well as in other regions of the world. Through their commitment towards open and transparent societies, Gado and Zunar, who have received threats in their countries of origin and can no longer practice their profession, confront us with our responsibility to preserve freedom of expression and act in order to support the combat of those who cannot express themselves through their art”, declared Mr Kofi Annan, he Honorary President of the Swiss Foundation.

The cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, jury member, added: “For having had the courage to draw the king naked, Gado and Zunar are faced with a power machine that seeks to silence them. What this Prize seeks to do is just the opposite: to amplify their voices, which are those of democracy and justice.

This prize, awarded every two years in Geneva, rewards a cartoonist for his/her courage, talent and commitment to the values of peace, tolerance as well as for his/her fight for freedom of expression. The event goes with an exhibition presented along the quai Wilson in Geneva until June 4th, 2016. For more information, click here!

For 2014 event see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/cartooning-for-peace-award-handed-over-by-kofi-annan-in-geneva/

For the biographies: Gado and Zunar.

 

  • Gado (Kenya)
     Gado (Kenya)
  • Gado (Kenya)
    Gado (Kenya)
  • Gado (Kenya)
    Gado (Kenya)
  • Gado (Kenya)
     Gado (Kenya)
  • Zunar (Malaysia)
     Zunar (Malaysia)
  • Zunar (Malaysia)
    Zunar (Malaysia)
  • Zunar (Malaysia)
     Zunar (Malaysia)
  • Zunar (Malaysia)
     Zunar (Malaysia)

 

Source: Cartoonists Gado (Kenya) and Zunar (Malaysia), recipients of the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Prize – Cartooning for Peace

Malaysian Bersih 2.0 (Walk for Democracy) wins Gwangju human rights award

April 26, 2016

Participants shout slogans during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih 2.0 near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, August 30, 2015. — Reuters pic

Participants shout slogans during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih 2.0 near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, August 30, 2015. — Reuters pic

Bersih 2.0 (also called the Walk for Democracy) has won South Korea’s 2016 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights for its efforts in pushing for electoral reform in Malaysia. The Bersih 2.0 steering committee, in a statement, said it was proud for being acknowledged for its work through the Gwangju award. “This acknowledgement is the result of the fight of the people of Malaysia who had gathered peacefully as many as four times in the city centre to seek a clean and fair electoral system in the country…The people have also proved their patriotic spirit when they walked the streets to defend the constitution, freedom to gather, voice an opinion and seek information,” it said. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all non governmental organisations overseas who have supported Bersih 2.0 all these years.”

The committee said Bersih 2.0 was nominated by Indonesian activist Mugiyanto from the International NGO forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) and Malaysian activist Yap Swee Seng. The award ceremony will take place on May 18 at the Memorial Foundation in South Korea.

Source: Bersih 2.0 wins South Korean human rights award | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bersih_2.0_rally

Profile of Arul, a Human Rights Defender from Malaysia

March 22, 2016

Arutchelvan Subramaniams, known as Arul, is a grassroots human rights defender from Malaysia. He works primarily for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights – including housing rights for the urban poor, the rights of farmers, plantation and industrial workers, as well as the rights of indigenous communities. The ISHR published this profile on 21 March 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa does ‘about-turn’ on UN resolution on human rights defenders

November 30, 2015

In relation to my post of 26 November [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/unfortunately-the-un-voted-on-the-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/] there is an interesting development. South-African media, NGOs and human rights defenders (e.g. http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/11/27/We-join-the-bullies) criticized heavily the position taken by Government in voting against. Today Barry Bateman reports that the South African government appears to have done an about-turn on its position and will now support the resolution when the matter is referred to the full General Assembly in the next few days.  The Department of International Relations says the Africa group of members’ states had about 39 proposed amendments to the resolution following intense negotiations. The department raised concerns around the definition of a human rights defender, the responsibilities placed on sovereign parliaments and issues of NGO funding.  It says the resolution’s main sponsor introduced oral amendments at the last-minute without informing South Africa.  These amendments rendered the country’s concerns redundant.

India‘s Yes-vote was circumscribed by its statement that “stressed” that it does not feel it necessary to not create “any new obligations at national level”. Counterview  of 28 November takes issue with this citing examples of where human rights defenders in India are still missing protection. [see also: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/india-uk-narendra-modi-david-cameron-visit-human-rights]

In the meantime Khoo Ying Hooi writing in a post in the Malaysian Insider of 30 November welcomes the Yes-vote by Malaysia, but shares the skepticism of many local human rights defenders that it is mostly window-dressing way. (“Malaysia has in many instances not walked the talk when it comes to international commitments on human rights affairs. One glaring example is their lack of commitment to the peer-review mechanism, Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the United Nations Human Rights Council. At this point of time, Malaysia’s adoption of the UN resolution in protecting human rights defenders does not reflect the reality back home. It was obvious that it is, at least for now, nothing more than diplomatic window dressing. While a UN resolution such as this would help in many ways, human rights protection must start at home.“)

Sources: Govt does ‘about-turn’ on its human rights defenders position

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/khoo-ying-hooi/article/malaysias-vote-on-protecting-human-rights-defenders-diplomatic-window-dress

http://www.counterview.net/2015/11/india-doesnt-need-new-legal-mechanism.html