PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 28/06/00
EXTRA 41/00 Arbitrary and incommunicado detention/fear of ill- treatment/prisoners of conscience 17 April 2000
MALAYSIATian Chua, Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN) Vice-President
Roslan Kassim, PKN Information Chief
Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, PKN Youth Chief
N. Gopalankrishnan, PKN Supreme Council member
Abdul Malek Hussain
Mohd Hafiz Hashim, aged 17
At least 46 others
At least 50 people, among them four leading members of the opposition Parti
Keadilan Nasional (National Justice Party), have been arrested in connection
with a 15 April demonstration, and a magistrate has remanded them in custody
for further questioning. Amnesty International fears they are at risk of serious
ill-treatment in detention, and is concerned at this seemingly arbitrary
decision to hold them for further questioning.
At least six are reported to have been assaulted and denied access to medical
treatment. According to a news report, one detainee who appeared in court
today told the magistrate that he had been beaten round the head with a truncheon
and punched all over his body. The detainees have had only limited access
to their lawyers and have not been allowed to see their families since their
arrest. Many of those arrested at similar demonstrations in the past have been
assaulted by the police.
Tian Chua, a PKN leader and well-known social activist, who has been arrested
a number of times and assaulted by police following his participation in other
illegal demonstrations, suffers from asthma and is currently on daily medication
for food poisoning.
Roslan Kassim, arrested the day before the demonstration, was ordered detained
for seven days, reportedly on suspicion of inciting others to attend an illegal
assembly. All the others, arrested over the weekend, were remanded in custody
for up to six days, except 17-year-old Mohd Hafiz Hashim, who was remanded
in custody for three days.
Demonstrators had planned to march through the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on 15
April, to mark the first anniversary of the jailing of former Deputy Prime
Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced
to six years’ imprisonment after an unfair trial on politically motivated
charges of “abuse of power”.
The Malaysian authorities announced a ban on the rally and positioned hundreds
of police around the capital, some armed with M16 rifles. Several hundred
peaceful protesters gathered during the day, chanting slogans and calling for
“reformasi” (reform). They were dispersed with tear gas and water cannon
spraying water laced with chemicals.
The Malaysian Police Act outlaws attendance at any unauthorized gathering of
more than three people. Offenders may be punished with fines and imprisonment
of up to one year. Since 1998 unprecedented public demonstrations in support
of Anwar Ibrahim have been suppressed with force and more than 1,200 people
have been arrested. Many of those arrested were assaulted in custody and face
trials during 2000 for illegal assembly.