ISA itself has served as an instrument of terror of the State

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The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)/Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) finds Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statements that the “ISA has protected country from terrorism” (NST, 2 December 2008) and that “the main reason why there have been no serious acts of terrorism in this country is because we have in place the ISA” baseless and unconvincing.

Now the question is how can an Act like the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows detention without trial, be used as a tool to protect the nation from terrorism? Today, most of the detainees in Kamunting are those who are linked to the Jemaah Islamiyaah (JI) and Darul Islam movements. Currently, there are five alleged JI detainees who have been held under the ISA for seven years. They are Suhaimi bin Mokhtar, Abdullah bin Daud, Mat Sah bin Mohd Satray , Shamsuddin bin Sulaiman and Abdul Murad bin Sudin. Many more are being held there for more than two to six years.

Although the government claimed that they have sufficient evidence to show that these detainees are linked to terrorism activities, until today none of them has been charged in open court. How then can the government ascertain that these ISA detainees are terrorists without a court trial? Without the scrutiny of the court, how can the public be assured that there is no misuse of power to detain innocent people?

Is Najib implying that blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor State Exco and Member of Parliament Teresa Kok, Sin Chew Daily’s reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and many more political and civil society activists are all terrorists?

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In reality, the ISA itself has served as an instrument of terror of the State and used consistently against dissidents who have defended the democratic and human rights of the Malaysian people. The ISA has been kept in use all this time mainly because it is a very convenient tool at the disposal of the ruling coalition.

Practising arbitrary arrest and detention without trial by hanging on to an anachronistic law, which was formulated to tackle the emergency situation many decades ago, only disgraces Malaysia in the eyes of the world. The Malaysian government, which is also a member of the Human Rights Council, should be ashamed for using a barbaric law such as the ISA, which runs counter to the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

ISA detainees must be given recourse to a fair trial in conformity with international standards of due process and access to full legal representation and family members. If no evidence is found against detainees, they should be released without delay as holding them indefinitely merely on the basis of suspicion is a blatant violation of due process. This principle should not be compromised under any circumstances. If the Malaysian government objected to the detention of alleged terrorists without trial by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, why then detain alleged terrorists at the Kamunting detention camp in the same way as the United States does?

We strongly urge the government to stop the double standards, abolish the ISA and release or charge all the ISA detainees who have been detained without trial under the ISA immediately.  The people will continue to struggle until the ISA is repealed completely.

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Nalini.E

Secretariat GMI

2 December 2008

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