Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary arrest and subsequent release on bail of three staff members of the human rights NGO KOMAS

MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064

Arbitrary arrest / Releaseon bail /

Judicial harassment


July 10, 2013

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for HumanRights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.

Description of thesituation:

The Observatory has been informedby reliable sources of the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release on bail ofthree staffmembers of the human rights NGO KOMAS, after organising a private screening ofthe documentary film called “No Fire Zone” on allegations of warcrimes committed in Sri Lanka during the civil war in 2009.

According to the informationreceived, inthe evening of July 3, 2013, KOMAS, together with the KL & Selangor ChineseAssembly Hall Civil Right Committee (KLSCAH CRC),organized a private screening of “No Fire Zone” directed by British DirectorCallum Macrae. At about 8.30 pm, about 30 minutes after the start of thescreening, about 30 officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs(KDN), immigration officials and the police entered the Chinese Assemblyhall and requested to check the film. The organizers negotiated with them toallow the screening to continue and enter after the screening is over.

However, after the screening, said officialsinsisted on checking the identity cards of all participants before they leftthe venue. The KDN requested a copy of the film, which was provided by theorganisers in soft copy. They also ordered the organisers - Ms. Anna Har, a member of KOMAS Board of Director, Mr. ArulPrakkash, KOMAS Executive Director, andMs. LenaHendry, KOMAS Programme Officer - to goto the Dang Wangi police station. The three askedwhether they were being arrested, to which the officers replied no. However,during their interrogation, they were informed that they were placed underarrest. They were questioned for almost three hours by the investigating team from the KDN.

At about 2 am, the three KOMASrepresentatives were finally released on police bail after their statement wasrecorded. According to the information received, they should findout if they will be charged with any offences in 30 days. Reportedly, they were arrested upon thebasis of Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act - which says no one should screenany film or related publicity materials that have not been approved by theCensorship Board.

On July 1, 2013, Ms. Lena Hendry had indeedreceived a call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, whohad asked the organisers to stop the screening because the film had not goneunder censorship. Yet, she had replied that the screening was private and uponinvitation only.

Furthermore, there were also strong attemptsby the Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia to stop the screening. They had faxed aletter to the KLSCAH to askthem not to screen the documentary. Although they were invited to the screening they did not show up.

The Observatory condemnsdisruption of the private screening of the documentary “No Fire Zone” by theHome Ministry and the police and theharassment of the organisers and audience. More generally, theObservatory reiterates its call on the Malaysian authorities to put an end immediately to the continuingharassment against all human rights defenders and organisations operating inthe country.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging themto:

i. Ensure in all circumstances thatKOMAS and itsmembers as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able to carry outtheir legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration onHuman Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nationson December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right,individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for theprotection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at thenational and international levels”, as well as

- its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “takeall necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities ofeveryone, individually and in association with others, against any violence,threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure orany other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exerciseof his or her rights”;

iii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rightsand fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rightsstandards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.


· Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office Malaysia, MainBlock, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government Administrative Centre, 62502Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Tel: + 60 3 8888 8000, Fax: + 60 3 8888 3444,Email:

· Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, BlokD1 & D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546Putrajaya, Malaysia. Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 /8889 1610, Email:

· Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairman of the Human Rights Commissionof Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara TH Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail,50250 Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Fax: +60 3 2612 5620; Email:;

· H.E. Mr. Mazlan Muhammad, Ambassador, PermanentRepresentative of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva, InternationalCentre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1st floor), Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01. Email:

· Embassy of Malaysia inBrussels, 414 A avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 762 50 49. Email:

Please also write to thediplomatic missions or embassies of Malaysia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions orembassies in Malaysia.


Geneva-Paris, July 10, 2013

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the codeof this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated tothe protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concretesupport in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· Tel andfax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel andfax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80