Masyarakat sivil menuntut supaya kerajaan menghentikan gangguan, stigma terhadap NGO

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Sosma: Police raid on Empower office, 29 November 2016 - Photograph: Diyana Yahaya/Twitter

[English version below] Empat puluh empat badan bukan kerajaan telah menulis satu memo kepada Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Paul Low dan Timbalan Menteri Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Kami, ahli-ahli Masyarakat Sivil (diwakili oleh organisasi-organisasi yang dilampirkan di bawah) amat mengambil berat terhadap perkembangan terkini berkenaan tangkapan dan tahanan Maria Chin Abdullah di bawah Akta Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-Langkah Khas) 2012 baru-baru ini, panggilan aktivis Suaram, Lawyers for Liberty dan Empower untuk siasatan polis, serbuan dan penyitaan pejabat Bersih dan Empower serta pelbagai laporan media berkenaan dakwaan negatif dana asing terhadap pelbagai organisasi, termasuklah Majlis Peguam Malaysia.

Kami turut mengambil berat terhadap pengumuman Menteri Dalam Negeri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yang satu pasukan tindak khas (task force) telah ditubuhkan untuk menyiasat dana-dana NGO dan dakwaan bahawa NGO menyemarakkan revolusi untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan serta jawapan Timbalan Menteri Dalam Negeri Nur Jazlan terhadap isu-isu hak-hak asasi tempatan yang dikemukakan ole Maina Kiai, Perwakilan Khas Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) bagi Kebebasan Berkesatuan dan Perhimpunan Aman, semasa lawatannya ke Malaysia baru-baru ini. Pengumuman dan jawapan menteri-menteri tersebut telah dilaporkan didalam media tempatan.

Rentetan peristiwa yang berlaku dan laporan-laporan berita yang diterbitkan dalam media baru-baru ini memberikan gambaran bahawa pihak berkuasa bertujuan menjatuhkan kredibiliti dan memburuk-burukkan aktivis hak-hak asasi manusia serta organisasi masyarakat sivil yang telah menyuarakan kritikan dan bantahan mereka terhadap kerajaan secara terbuka.

Khususnya, kami mengambil berat dan kesal terhadap stigma yang diberi kepada penerimaan dana asing oleh organisasi masyarakat sivil yang disamakan dengan ‘pengkhianatan’ (‘treason’) dan/atau “campur tangan oleh badan-badan asing” (“interference of foreign bodies”) yang mengancam negara. Dakwaan yang menyatakan dana asing tersebut digunakan untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan adalah karut-marut. Dana-dana yang diperoleh bagi pendidikan, advokasi hak-hak asasi, pemantauan dan kempen untuk memperkukuhkan proses demokratik merupakan aktiviti yang sah di sisi undang-undang.

Masyarakat sivil di Malaysia yang menyuarakan kritikan terhadap isu-isu hal ehwal negara selalunya mengalami kesukaran mendapatkan sumbangan dana tempatan, disebabkan kebimbingan penyumbang (individu dan badan-badan swasta) akan kesan negatif akibat sokongan kewangan mereka. Kenyataan untuk menghalang sokongan dan sumbangan terhadap masyarakat sivil dibuat oleh pihak-pihak berkuasa dari masa ke masa. Dana kerajaan juga jarang sekali diberikan kepada NGO yang menyuarakan kritikan secara terbuka terhadap kerajaan dan tindakan kerajaan.

Masyarakat sivil memainkan peranan yang penting dalam proses demokratik dan pembangunan di Malaysia, seiring dengan agensi-agensi kerajaan serta sektor swasta. Peranan aktivis dalam menggalakkan kebaikan umum telah diiktirafkan oleh Mahkamah Rayuan baru-baru ini. Kewujudan masyarakat sivil dan kerja yang dilakukan oleh aktivis-aktivis tidak harus diancam dengan halangan dan batasan kewangan.

Kebebasan berkesatuan dijamin di bawah Perlembagaan Persekutuan (Lihat: Artikel 10). Kebebasan berkesatuan bukan hanya terhad kepada hak untuk menubuhkan dan menyertai mana-mana persatuan, tetapi juga untuk mencari, menerima serta menggunakan sumber-sumber – manusia, bahan-bahan atau kewangan – daripada pihak tempatan, luar negara, dan antarabangsa untuk aktiviti-aktiviti persatuan tersebut (Lihat: Artikel 13, Deklarasi Pembela Hak Asasi Manusia yang telah diterima oleh Persidangan Umum Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu A/RES/53/1999).

Kami ingin menegaskan bahawa sebagai ahli masyarakat sivil yang mungkin dari masa ke masa menyuarakan pendapat kami terhadap hal ehwal negara, bukanlah ‘pengkhianat’. Ahli masyarakat sivil yang menyuarakan kritikan atau bantahan mereka tidak seharusnya dilayan sebagai musuh negara. Bagi mewujudkan sebuah demokrasi berparlimen yang tulen, kita mestilah diberikan kebebasan untuk menyuarakan pendapat dan kebimbangan kita.

Sebagai kumpulan masyarakat sivil yang menyarankan ketelusan dan akauntabiliti, kami ingin menegaskan kepada pihak kerajaan bahawa akaun-akaun kami difailkan setiap tahuan sebagai penyata tahunan dan boleh diperolehi secara umum.

Kami menyeru kerajaan supaya menghormati peranan masyarakat sivil dalam demokrasi dan pembangunan negara di Malaysia. Kami juga menyeru kerajaan untuk menghentikan sebarang intimidasi terhadap aktivis-aktivis dan NGO melalui ancaman tangkapan, serbuan serta sitaan. NGO juga mempunyai hak yang sama seperti pihak swasta dan kerajaan untuk menerima dana asing dan tidak seharusnya diselar dengan stigma oleh sebab penerimaan dana asing semata-mata.

Memorandum: Civil society demands that the government stops harassing, stigmatising NGOs

We, members of civil society (represented by the organisations listed below) are greatly concerned by the recent developments pertaining to the arrest of Maria Chin Abdullah under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, the summoning of activists from Suaram, Lawyers for Liberty and Empower for investigations, the police raid and seizure of the offices of Bersih and Empower, and the numerous news reports making allegations against various organisations in respect of foreign funding, including the Malaysian Bar Council.

We are also perturbed by news reports of Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announcing the formation of a task force to probe into NGO funding and accusing them of enticing revolutions to topple the present government and news reports of Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan’s reply to the numerous concerns regarding local human rights issues raised by Maina Kiai, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, during his recent visit to Malaysia.

Recent events and published news reports give the impression that the authorities are out to discredit and demonise human rights activists and civil society organisations who have voiced criticisms and dissent against the government.

Of particular concern is the stigmatisation of the receipt of foreign funding by civil society organisations, stating that this is tantamount to “treason” and/or “interference of foreign bodies” which threatens the nation. Allegations that such funding are used to topple the government are preposterous. Funding of civil society activities in areas of education, advocacy, monitoring and campaigning for the strengthening of our democratic process are legitimate activities.

Civil society groups in Malaysia that voice criticism of public affairs often face difficulties in raising funds locally, as donors (both individuals and body corporates) are fearful of repercussions. Statements discouraging support have been made by the authorities from time to time. Government funding is rarely available to NGOs that have openly voiced criticism of the government and its work.

Civil society has a vital part to play in democratic and developmental processes in Malaysia, alongside government agencies and business corporations. The role of activists in promoting the common good has been duly recognised by the Court of Appeal recently. The existence of civil society and the work of activists should not be threatened by limitations and restrictions on funding.

Freedom of association is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution (See: Article 10). The freedom of association encompasses not only the right to form and join any associations but also to seek, receive and use resources – human, material and financial – from domestic, foreign, and international sources for the activities of the associations (See: Article 13, Declaration of Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, A/RES/53/1999).

We wish to state categorically that as members of civil society, which may from time to time voice our concerns about public affairs, we are not “traitors” to the nation. Dissenters ought not be treated as enemies of the state. For a true parliamentary democracy to exist, we must be free to voice our concerns.

As civil society groups which advocate transparency and accountability, we remind the government that our accounts are made available through the filing of yearly returns.

We urge the government to respect the role that civil society plays in our country’s democracy and in nation-building. We also urge the government to stop the harassment of activists and NGOs through threats of arrests, raids and seizures. NGOs have the same rights as businesses and government to receive foreign funding and should not be stigmatised for it.

Dikemukakan oleh/Submitted by (in alphabetical order):

  1. Aliran
  2. Amnesty International – Malaysia
  3. Anak Muda Sarawak
  4. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim)
  5. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (Wargaaman)
  6. Association of Women Lawyers, Malaysia
  7. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  8. Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4)
  9. Community Action Network (Can)
  10. Empower
  11. Engage
  12. Himpunan Hijau
  13. Ikram
  14. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
  15. Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
  16. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit)
  17. Kesatuan Mahasiswa Malaysia (KMM)
  18. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
  19. Lensa
  20. Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (Dema)
  21. Malaysian Indians Progressive Association (Mipas)
  22. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (Mitra)
  23. Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
  24. Malaysian Youth Care Association (Prihatin)
  25. Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS)
  26. Oriental Hearts and Minds Study Institute (OHMSI)
  27. Partners of Community Organisation (Pacos)
  28. Penang Indepedent Schools Education Society
  29. People Welfare and Rights Organisation (Power)
  30. Permas
  31. Persatuan Hak Asasi Manusia (Hakam)
  32. Persatuan Pengguna Klang
  33. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (Rapat)
  34. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor
  35. Pusat Komas
  36. Research for Social Advancement (Refsa)
  37. Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose)
  38. Sisters in Islam
  39. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  40. Tenaganita
  41. Tindak Malaysia
  42. Tobpinai Ningkokoton Koburuan Kampung (Tonibung)
  43. University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany)
  44. Women’s Aid Organisation
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