PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 28/001/2001
UA 49/01Fear of ill-treatment/incommunicado detention/prisoner of conscience 7 March 2001
MALAYSIAMohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor
Opposition activist Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor was arrested on 5 March, outside
the home of prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime
Minister. He is now held incommunicado, and Amnesty International believes
he may be severely ill-treated. In September 1998 Anwar Ibrahim was severely
assaulted while held in police custody. An inquiry later found that the assault
could potentially have been lethal.
Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor is the Youth Chief of the opposition Parti Keadilan
Nasional (National Justice Party). He was brought before the Kuala Lumpur
magistrate’s court on 7 March and remanded in custody for a further three days
for questioning under the Sedition Act. He has only had contact with his lawyers
during the 7 March court hearing.
Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor was arrested after the pro-government newspaper
Mingguan Malaysia reported on 4 March that he had called for mass protests
to overthrow the government. He has denied the accusation, saying he was
misquoted and had merely called for peaceful protests against alleged corruption
and cronyism in the government. The Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi, is reported to have said that Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor was arrested
“not for his political differences, but because of the words he uttered”.
Nine Keadilan supporters, including three women, were arrested on 7 March as
they held a candle-lit vigil outside the police station where Mohamad Ezam
Mohamad Nor is being held. They were released the following morning. It is
not known if they are to be charged.
The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Malaysia are
severely curtailed by an array of restrictive legislation. According to the
vaguely worded Sedition Act, anyone who utters “seditious words” may be
imprisoned for up to three years. Amnesty International is concerned at the
use of selective, politically motivated prosecutions under the Sedition Act
to deter peaceful dissent. The law has been used recently against several
opposition party members and a leading human rights lawyer.
Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor is also currently being tried on separate charges
under the Official Secrets Act, for disclosing information to the press about
allegations of corruption made against government leaders.
Since 1998 a series of public demonstrations in support of the imprisoned former
Deputy Prime Minister and calling for political reform have been suppressed
with force. Well over 1,200 people have been arrested, many of whom were
assaulted in police custody.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- expressing concern that Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor has been detained because
of his peaceful dissenting political beliefs;
- urging the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally;