New detentions under the ISA – yet again

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Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) is astonished to learn of the latest arrests under the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) in the midst of the government’s talk about reviewing the Act.

GMI condemns the new arrests under the ISA. The invocation of the ISA against these individuals is totally against the fundamental principles of human rights, justice and international human rights standards.

News reports yesterday quoted the Home Affairs Minister as saying that ten were arrested under the ISA for terrorism and international terrorist networking. He confirmed that the ten arrested were linked to international terrorist organisations.

However, according to the information received by GMI, we learn that there were around 50 people who were arrested under the ISA on Thursday, 21 January 2010 at Sungai Cincin, Gombak when they were attending an informal religious class at Sungai Cincin. The house they were in was forced into without warning by police action forces using force and weapons. It seems that having religious classes can be construed as threatening national security and high security forces must be deployed.

Among the 50 arrested that night, only 12 have been detained further and the rest were released at around 3.00am on 22 January 2010. Of the 12, GMI managed to obtain nine names and is still trying to obtain the other three.

The nine are:

   1. Azzahari bin Murad (Malaysian)
   2. Aiman Al Dakkak (Syrian Nationality), USM PHD Student
   3. Mohamed Hozifa (Syrian Nationality)- Son of Aiman Al Dakkak
   4. Kutiba Al-Issa (Syrian Nationality)- Student
   5. Khalid Salem (Yamani Nationality)- Student
   6. Luqman Abdul Salam (Nigerian Nationality)- Student
   7. Hassan Barudi (Syrian Nationality)
   8. Hussam Khalid (Jordanian Nationality)
   9. Abdul Alhi Bolajoko Uthman (Nigerian Nationality)

GMI strongly condemns the new arrests under the ISA. The Government must guarantee the safety of the detainees and notify their families. Legal assistance should be allowed. The government also must clarify the status of the other three who are believed to have been arrested together with all those names mentioned above.

The ISA allows and provides for arbitrary arrest and detention without trial for an indefinite period. Under the ISA, detainees can be held for up to 60 days in secret locations and in solitary confinement, often in a windowless cell where they lose all sense of time and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Detainees have been assaulted, forced to strip, deprived of sleep, food and water, told that their families would be harmed, and subjected to prolonged aggressive interrogation to force confessions or obtain information.

GMI believes that the new detentions may have been initiated in response to international pressure on terrorist threats in Malaysia. It may be related to a US travel advisory alert over the last two weeks for potential criminal and terrorist groups planning or intending acts of violence against foreigners in eastern Sabah or it may be connected with other incidences in the US and UK. But nothing can be confirmed.

Using the ISA to confirm this by means of possibly forcing confessions or creating unproven plots and links is unjust and unscrupulous. In any case, the ISA is a convenient tool to use to avert pressure by making foreigners, in this case mostly from the Middle East region, as scapegoats.

GMI values the security of the country and does not condone any terrorist activities, but one’s entitlement to a fair trial should not be deprived on any basis. If the government has evidence against the suspects, we urge the government to charge them in open court, in accordance with their right to defend themselves, the right to legal counsel and the right to a fair trial. Otherwise, they should be released without any delay and unconditionally. Arrests made do not justify the need for the ISA. Arrests made without any shred of evidence or trial only shows up the need for the abolishment of the draconian ISA. Accusing someone of committing a crime without producing credible evidence is slanderous; detaining someone without trial, and not giving him a chance to defend himself is barbaric!

It is shameful that the government is again practising double standards on issues related to the ISA. On the one hand, it announced plans to review the ISA and to release detainees last year, but on the other, new detentions have been carried out discreetly with no prior announcements made. The secrecy and unscrupulous practices that surround the use of the ISA goes against the principles of justice, truth and transparency. It has again exhibited the true colours of the ISA, which is extremely arbitrary and has nothing to do with national security. It has further confirmed that the ISA is only a political tool used to silence dissidents and criticisms against the government. We demand their release immediately or charge them in open court.

The GMI urges the people of Malaysia to demand the release of all ISA detainees and abolish the ISA once and for all. Let’s us fight for our rights and for a better Malaysia without the ISA, which allows detention without trial.

Abolish the ISA!
Release all ISA detainees!
Close KEMTA!

 
Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh
Chairman GMI

28 January 2010

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