Urgent Interventions

Ongoing harassment against the human rights NGO KOMAS

New information

MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.1

Judicial harassment


July 18,2013

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has receivednew information and requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Malaysia.


The Observatory has been informed by reliablesources about the ongoing harassment against the human rights NGO KOMAS, afterit organised a private screening of the documentary film called “No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lankaon allegations of warcrimes committed in Sri Lanka during the civil war in 2009.

According to the informationreceived, on July 16, 2013, late afternoon, Mr. Tan Jo Hann, a member of the Board of Directors of KOMAS, received a fax notice from the Home Ministry (KDN) Film Censorship Control and Enforcement Office in Kuala Lumpur,requiring him to come to their office at 9:30 am on July 18, 2013 to record hisstatement on the above-mentioned issue. After consulting his legal counsel,they proposed another date on which KDN agreed. Mr. Tan Jo Hann will now go tothe KDN office on July 22, 2013 at 10 am, along with his legal counsel.

Earlier on in the morning at 11:28 am, Mr. Tan Jo Hann had received atelephone call from Ms. Akilah Binti Bakri who identified herself as anenforcement officer from the KDN, informing him that they required his presenceto record his statement at their office in Kuala Lumpur. Ms. Akilah added thatthe telephone call was the first step to inform Mr. Tan Jo Hann after which awritten notice would be faxed to KOMAS office.

Mr. Tan Jo Hann asked why was it necessary for them to issue a notice torecord his statement when he was actually present during the process when KDNand the police arrested three KOMAS staff members on July 3, 2013 after thescreening of the film “NoFire Zone” in the KL & Selangor Chinese AssemblyHall (see background information). He further reminded her that on the night ofthe arrest his statement was not recorded. Ms. Akilah replied that they now seeit necessary to record his statement.

The Observatory condemns the ongoingharassment of KOMAS members and reiterates its call on the Malaysian authoritiesto put an end immediatelyto the judicial harassment against Mr. Tan Jo Hann, allKOMAS members as well as against all human rights defenders and organisations operating in thecountry.

Background information:

In the evening of July 3, 2013, KOMAS, togetherwith the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Civil Right Committee (KLSCAH CRC), organised a private screening of “No FireZone” directed by British Director Callum Macrae. At about 8.30 pm, about 30minutes after the start of the screening, about 30 officials of the KDN, immigration officials and the police entered the ChineseAssembly hall and requested to check the film. The organizers negotiated withthem to allow 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. Arul Prakkash, KOMAS Executive Director, and Ms. Lena Hendry, KOMAS Programme Officer - to go to the Dang Wangi police station. The three asked whether they were beingarrested, to which the officers replied no. However, during theirinterrogation, they were informed that they were placed under arrest. They werequestioned 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 find out 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 receiveda call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, who asked theorganisers to stop the screening because the film had not gone undercensorship. She had replied that the screening was private and upon invitationonly.

Furthermore, there were also strong attemptsby the Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia to stop the screening. They faxed aletter to the KLSCAH asking them not to screen thedocumentary. Although they wereinvited to the screening they did not show up.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging them to:

i. Ensure in all circumstances that KOMAS and its members as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia areable to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear ofreprisals;

ii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which statesthat “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, topromote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as

- its Article 12.2, whichprovides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protectionby the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association withothers, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

iii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights andfundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standardsand international instruments ratified by Malaysia.


· Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin TunAbdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s OfficeMalaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government AdministrativeCentre, 62502 Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia.Fax: + 60 3 8888 3444, Email:

· Mr.Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 & D2, KompleksD, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia. Fax: +60 38889 1613 /8889 1610, Email:

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

· H.E. Mr. Mazlan Muhammad,Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations inGeneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1st floor), Route dePré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01. Email:

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

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


Geneva-Paris, July 18, 2013

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of thisappeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to theprotection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support intheir time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 143 55 18 80

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