MYS 001 / 1116 / OBS 096.1
Raid of NGOs office /
Arbitrary arrest / Seizure of equipment /
Obstacle to freedom of assembly
November 18, 2016
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, apartnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH,requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.
The Observatory has beeninformed by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) about a police raid at the officesof Bersih 2.0 and the arbitrary arrest of Ms.Maria Chin Abdullah, Chairperson of Bersih 2.0, and Mr. Mandeep Singh, Bersih 2.0 SecretariatManager, as well as seven supporters of the Bersih 5 rally.
According to the informationreceived, on November 18, 2016, at about 3pm, Bukit Aman policeraided Bersih 2.0’s office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor State, for suspectedviolation of Article 124C of the Criminal Code (‘attempt to commit activitydetrimental to parliamentary democracy’).
Police officers prevented Bersih2.0 staff from leaving the office and stopped lawyers from entering thepremises. They arrested Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah and Mr. Mandeep Singh and tookthem to the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters for questioning. Thepolice also confiscated laptops, phones, and bank and payroll statements fromthe Bersih 2.0 office.
The arrests of Ms. Maria ChinAbdullah and Mr. Mandeep Singh and the raid on the Bersih 2.0 office occurs oneday before the Bersih 5 rally.
On the same day, in separateincidents in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, police took into custody sevenother Bersih 5 supporters: Mr. S. Arutchelvan, Socialist Party of Malaysia(PSM) member; Messrs. Ronnie Liu, AndyWong and Lee Khai Ming, Democratic Action Party (DAP)members; Mr. Anthony Loke, DAP Member of Parliament (MP);and Mr. Mhamad Luqman Nul Haqim and Ms. AnisSyafiqah, student leaders.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrest of Ms.Maria Chin Abdullah, Messrs. Mandeep Singh, S. Arutchelvan, Ronnie Liu, Andy Wong, Lee Khai Ming, Anthony Loke, Mhamad Luqman NulHaqim and Ms. Anis Syafiqah, and calls on the authorities to immediately andunconditionally release them. The Observatory also urges the authorities to putan immediate end to the harassment of Bersih 5 organisers and supporters.
Over the past weeks, Bersih 2.0members, including in particular Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah, have been subjectedto harassment and threats.
In October, Ms. Maria ChinAbdullah received a number of death threats. On October 17, 2016, she receivedviolent messages on her mobile phone that threatened her, her sons, Mr. MandeepSingh and former Co-Chair of Bersih Ms. Ambiga Sreenevasan, and warned her of reprisals ifshe proceeded with organising the November 19 Bersih 5 rally. The messagesclaimed to be from the ‘Islamic State Malaysia’.
On November 11, 2016, Ms. MariaChin Abdullah received photoshopped images of herself, her three sons, Mr.Mandeep Singh and Ms. Ambiga Sreenevasan, being beheaded by ISIS on her mobilephone. She subsequently lodged a police report on the incident.
Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah has alsobeen subjected to harassment by the authorities. On October 29, 2016, she wasarbitrarily arrested under Article 11 of the 1984 Printing Presses andPublications Act for distributing Bersih 5 leaflets in Kota Marudu, SabahState. She was brought to Kota Marudu district police headquarters forquestioning and subsequently released on bail. Several other individuals havealso been threatened with arrest under the 1984 Printing Presses andPublications Act and the 1948 Sedition Act for distributing the same leaflets.
On November 4, 2016, Ms. MariaChin Abdullah was briefly detained for questioning at the Bukit Aman policeheadquarters over allegations that Bersih 2.0 received foreign funding, whichthe police claimed was in violation of Article 124C of the Criminal Code(‘attempt to commit activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy’). She wasreleased on the same day pending further investigations. During questioning,the police officers told her that she would be summoned after the November 19rally.
Authorities have also threatenedBersih 2.0 with legal action in relation to the November 19 Bersih 5 protest.On November 3, 2016, Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warned Bersih 5organisers that they would face legal action if the rally went ahead. Mr. Zahidclaimed Bersih 5 did not comply with the 2012 Peaceful Assembly Act because therally venue was among the locations prohibited by the Act. Bersih 5 organisersmaintain that the planned November 19 rally complies with the legalrequirements under the 2012 Peaceful Assembly Act, including the requirement tonotify the authorities 10 days before the demonstration.
In addition, other Bersih 2.0members have been threatened several times. In October 2016, a number of localBersih 2.0 coordinators were summoned by the police for questioning in theStates of Johor, Penang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Perak, over a Bersih 5convoy, which travelled from Melaka to Negeri Sembilan from October 6 to 8,2016.
Bersih 2.0 members alsoregularly receive threats from the pro-government ‘red shirts.’ On October 8,2016, participants of a Bersih 5 convoy were attacked with eggs and firecrackers,and physically assaulted. ‘Red shirt’ leader Jamal Yunos has said that theywould continue to gather, legally or illegally, and use physical force againstBersih 5 participants.
Please write to the authorities of Malaysia asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychologicalintegrity of Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah and Mr. Mandeep Singh, as well as of othermembers of Bersih 2.0, and of all human rights defenders in Malaysia;
ii. Release Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah, Messrs. Mandeep Singh, S. Arutchelvan, Ronnie Liu, AndyWong, Lee Khai Ming, Anthony Loke, Mhamad Luqman Nul Haqim and Ms. AnisSyafiqah, immediately and unconditionally, as their detentionis arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rightsactivities;
iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judiciallevel, against Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah and Mr. Mandeep Singh, all Bersih 5 supporters aswell as of other members of Bersih 2.0 and of all human rights defenders in thecountry so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders inMalaysia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activitiesincluding the organisation of peaceful and unarmed assemblies without anyhindrance or fear of violence;
v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration onHuman Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998,in particular with its Articles 1, 5(a), and 12.2;
vi. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and otherinternational human rights instruments signed or ratified by Malaysia.
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Malaysia in yourrespective countries.
Paris-Geneva, November 18, 2016
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of thisappeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. Theobjective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repressionagainst human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members ofProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanismimplemented by international civil society.
 The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) is a non-partisan,civil society campaign created in 2006 and endorsed by over 60 Malaysiannon-governmental organisations, which seeks to reform the electoral system inMalaysia to ensure free, clean, and fair elections and to promote the respectof democratic rights.
 The Bersih 5 has been organised amid corruption allegations involvingMalaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, in connection with misappropriation offunds by the debt-ridden state-owned investment firm 1Malaysia DevelopmentBerhad (1MDB).
 Article 124C of the Malaysian Criminal Code states that “Whoeverattempts to commit an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy or doesany act preparatory thereto shall be punished with imprisonment for a termwhich may extend to 15 years.”