Police raid on Empower’s office an abuse of Sosma, say groups

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

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) condemns the raid conducted against Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) on the afternoon of 28 November 2016.

During the raid, the police refused to give any form of cooperation to the lawyers present and refused to identify themselves. The only information given by the police was that Empower was investigated under Section 124c of the Penal Code and that lawyers were not allowed to meet with those detained in the office pursuant to the powers accorded under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.

The use of Sosma in such a manner is an undisputed abuse of power. The attorney general and the inspector general of police cannot continue to dabble with the illusion that their attack against civil society groups is a legitimate operation.

They have time and time again failed to show any indication that Malaysian civil society groups had any ‘agenda’ to topple the government through undemocratic means. Their repeated attacks and irresponsible remarks only make them complicit in the abuse of powers by an unconscionable regime.

Suaram reiterates our that repressive laws such as Sosma has no place in Malaysia and strongly condemns the use and abuse of Sosma by the Malaysian government.

#BebasMaria #MansuhSOSMA

Sevan Doraisamy is executive director of Suaram.

Empower adds:

Police raid an abuse of power

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) condemns the police raid of our premises and the interrogation of our staff without allowing for legal representation.

The police raided Empower under section 124c of the Penal Code and invoked the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma to threaten our staff with detention for 48 hours without access to lawyers. They appeared to be investigating Bersih’s funding and took various files and financial documents, including Empower’s general ledgers and profit and loss financial reports.

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Empower reiterates that there is no law that forbids civil society organisations from receiving funds whether local or foreign. We would like to stress that all funds received are expended based on our stated objectives and activities under our constitution. In fact, we have submitted annually all documents required by the Registrar of Societies in reporting on our yearly activities, including audited financial reports.

Our efforts toward securing equality and democracy for all, especially for women and marginalised communities, is out there for the world to see. Empower condemns in the strongest terms the attempts to tarnish our work.

We commend the conduct of our staff, who kept calm and cooperated with the police despite the threats made against them. They and all of civil society should never have been put in this situation in the first place.

It is clear by now that reassurances made by the government when Sosma was passed were empty promises. We fear that the raid on our office will not be the last time Sosma is used against human rights defenders.

Janarthani Arumugam is president of Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)

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