Natalie Lowrey’s prolonged detention unjustified, an abuse of power
Sydney-based Friends of the Earth activist Natalie Lowrey of New Zealand was released from a Malaysian jail on 27 June, five days after she was arrested at an anti-Lynas protest.
Her release on bail followed an international petition, which collected some 15000 signatures, and came on the same day as the following joint statement was issued.
She was interviewed following her release by Radio Mundo Real. Listen to the podcast.
The joint civil society statement on 27 June 2014:
We, the undersigned organisations, condemn the unnecessary arrest and detention of the Australia-based activist of Friends of the Earth, Natalie Lowrey, that has entered into the sixth day today.
The prolonged detention is a serious breach of personal liberty of Natalie Lowrey, as well as her right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We call for her immediate and unconditional release.
Natalie Lowrey was arrested on 22 June 2014 together with 15 other Malaysian activists in a protest against the Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang. While the rest of the 15 have been released in the early morning on Monday (23 June), Natalie Lowrey remains in police custody to this day (27 June).
The 16, including Natalie Lowrey, should not have been detained in the first place. They merely exercised their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in protest against a rare earth plant that poses great risk to the health and environment of the people of Kuantan. Their peaceful action is perfectly legitimate and should not be criminalised.
We wish to remind the government and the police that the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly are universal human rights and are recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Malaysia has also endorsed. These rights cannot be nullified merely on the grounds that Natalie Lowrey is a foreigner as this is in contravention of international human rights law.
The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which bans foreigners from organising or participating in peaceful assemblies, should be abolished or amended in accordance with international human rights standards.
We consider the police arrest and detention of Natalie Lowrey under the notorious Immigration Act, which allows for a detention period of 14 days before the detainee is brought to court, as an act of bad faith. For Malaysian citizens, any police arrest cannot exceed 24 hours, upon which the police should decide to release or charge the person arrested. The prolonged detention of Natalie Lowrey smacks of abuse of power and of an ill-intention to punishment.
We call on the Malaysian government to heed the increased international calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Natalie Lowrey. The international petition, which is addressed to Home Minister Zahid Hamidi, has already garnered more than 14,000 signatures internationally in just five days since it was launched on 23 June 2014.
We call on the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to conduct a visit to the Kuantan police headquarters to ensure that the well being and the rights of Natalie Lowrey are protected.
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
- Kelab Bangsar Utama
- Gerakan Bunga Raya
- Pusat Komas
- Kill the Bill
- Malaysian Youth Against Public Hazardous
- Biro Alam Sekitar, Parti Keadilan Rakyat
- Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
- Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & Kuala Lumpur
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
- Serdang Bharu School, Alumni Youth Section
- Tamil Foundation
- Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur (Permas)
- Himpunan HijauGabungan
- NGO Pengerang
- Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (Seed)
- Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Committee
- Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section
- LLG Cultural Development Centre
- Anak Muda Sarawak
- Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami)
- Pemuda Persatuan Hainan Negeri Sembilan
- Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces
- Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
- Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
- Community Development Center (CDC)
- Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit)
- Malaysians for Teoh Beng Hock
- Solidarity for Civil Rights in China
- Center for Orang Asli Concerns
- Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement (Dema)
- Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
- Johor Yellow Flame