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National and Regional Initiatives Against the ISA
WOMEN AGAINST THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT
The Women’s Agenda for Change calls for the immediate release of all political detainees who have been recently detained under the Internal Security Act. They are:
- Tian Chua, Parti KeAdilan Nasional Vice-president;
- Mohamad Ezam Mohd. Nor, KeAdilan Youth President;
- N. Gobala Krishnan, KeAdilan Youth Secretary-general;
- Haji Saari Sungib, ‘People’s Memorandum’ Organising Committee Chairperson and Central Committee member of KeAdilan;
- Hishamuddin Rais, freelance media columnist, film maker and social activist;
- Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Free Anwar Campaign website, Executive Director;
- Abdul Ghani Harun, KeAdilan Penang Youth Central Committee Member.
- Norman Batcha (Sent to Kamunting Detention Camp);
- Zainal Talib (sent to Kamunting Detention Camp);
- Ahmadi Asab (sent to Kamunting Detention Camp);
- Dr Badrul Amin Baharom, KeAdilan Central Committee Member and ex-UIA law lecturer; and
- Lokman Noor Adam, Youth Leader of KeAdilan.
WAC reiterates its outrage over the government’s recent and insistent usage of the ISA to suppress dissent, opposition and debate.
We believe that the Internal Security Act is archaic, has been systematically used to silence criticism and political dissent and it contravenes international standards on freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial.
WAC opposes the Internal Security Act because:
- The ISA is an instrument used to silence dissent.
The Act was first enacted in 1960 in the context of a National Emergency, and was intended for a very narrow and specific purpose, i.e. to be used against communist insurgents. Since then, the government has used the Act for its own political purposes. Thousands of Malaysians, including trade unionists, political activists, women and NGO activists, academicians and religious groups have been arrested under this draconian Act. For example, under Operation Lalang of 1987, there was a massive crackdown on opposition leaders, academicians, religious, social, women and environmental activists. Presently, it is again used to detain religious leaders/activists and key leaders of the Reformasi Movement and opposition political parties.
- The ISA violates the fundamental rights of a person, goes against the principles of justice and undermines the rule of law.
The Act allows and provides for arbitrary arrest and detention without trial for an indefinite period. It also allows for a detainee to be held under solitary confinement for as long as 60 days and denies her/him of any contact with lawyers and families.
- The ISA has no checks and balances.
Even though it was a repressive Act, there were checks and balances built into the Act, including a judicial review process. Since then, the ISA has been amended over 20 times, and even the judicial review process has been removed. This gives absolute power to the Minister to detain people at his will.
- The ISA denies an independent and impartial trial.
Under this Act, a detainee is seemingly presumed guilty as s/he is detained without trial. This is in total contravention of the principle of justice of “innocent until proven guilty”. No person should be deprived of her/his rights and priviledges nor be subject to condemnation or punishment until and unless s/he is given an opportunity to defend her/himself to the full extent of the law and is heard in an independent and impartial court.
- The ISA is immoral and cruel.
The Act condones violence, torture and humiliation. People who are detained are subject to the whims and fancies of the Police. They are kept in isolation and have no access to the outside world for extended periods of time. The Police are able to use various dehumanizing ‘methods’ to exact out ‘confessions’ just to prove their point.
WAC upholds the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and fundamental liberties as they are essential for the creation of a vibrant, open, participatory and dynamic democratic system.
As women and as members of the civil society, we have to stand up and deplore the use of fear and oppressive forces that divides us and our citizens. Women can and will contribute towards building a just, democratic and peaceful society for ourselves and for our sons and daughters.
WAC calls upon all women’s organisations and Malaysian women to oppose the Internal Security Act because it is a draconian act which violates the fundamental liberties and rights of all Malaysian citizens, both women and men.
We, as women and as WAC, demand that all ISA detainees be immediately released or charged and be given trial in an independent and impartial court.
Free all political prisoners!
Repeal the ISA!
Women’s Agenda For Change
Women’s Agenda for Change is supported and endorsed by 90 organisations from a variety of interest areas, including women, youth, consumer, environment, unions, indigenous, religious, peace health, human rights, lawyers and grassroot groups.
Women’s Agenda for Change Organising Committee
Women’s Development Collective
All Women’s Action Society
Women’s Aid Organisation
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
Sisters In Islam
Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall – Women’s Section
Metal Industries Employees’ Union.
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