Instead of leading the Bersih 5 rally on 19 November, Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma where she can be held for up to 28 days without trial.
Bersih 2.0 is shocked and outraged that the authorities have gone to such extreme lengths to silence their critics. The use of Sosma, which is intended as a terrorism counter-measure, against a civil society leader who peacefully champions institutional reforms and the crackdown on 16 activists and politicians (and counting) are a horrific abuse of power.
This complete disregard for the rule of law is a serious threat to democracy and human rights.
Maria is being held in solitary confinement in a 15 x 8 feet cell that has no windows and no bed, with only a hard slab of wood on a cement floor. Two light bulbs are kept on for 24 hours. She was held for two days before family and lawyers were even allowed to see her. Her location is unknown. This inhumane treatment can only be described as torture and is completely unjustifiable.
Sixteen others have also been arrested in a crackdown that began on Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said there were more on the list.
Red shirt leader Jamal Yunos was also picked up and was given a mere four-day remand, which shows the authorities’ continued bias. Jamal has, from the very beginning, incited violence and hatred, even going so far as to threaten another May 13 incident. Yet the authorities continue to let him off easy, showing that they have abdicated their duty to ensure law and order.
Bersih 2.0 demands the immediate release of Maria Chin Abdullah. Her detention under Sosma is unlawful and a serious breach of human rights. We also call for the repeal of such an oppressive law that is so easily open to abuse.
Maria’s family today filed a police report at 11.30am at Petaling Jaya district police headquarters against her detention and abusive treatment under Sosma. Her lawyers will file a writ of habeas corpus tomorrow for Maria to appear in court and ask for a valid reason for her detention. We will exhaust all legal avenues to secure Maria’s release.
Civil society groups and supporting groups will kickstart the #BebasMaria #MansuhSOSMA campaign today which will include a daily candlelight vigil, international lobbying, forums and sending of memorandums. We will not stop until Maria is free and Sosma is repealed.
As part of our campaign, Bersih 2.0 calls on all Malaysians to join us in solidarity at 8pm every night at Dataran Merdeka until Maria is released. We need to send a strong collective message that Maria’s detention and inhumane treatment is an egregious breach of human rights and will not be accepted in a free and democratic society.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee