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Malaysia

    July 27, 2020

    Responding to news that 26 Rohingya refugees previously feared drowned off the resort island of Langkawi, Malaysia, have been found alive on the island of Rebak Besar following a search yesterday, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher said: 

    “While this story has had a happy ending, such potential tragedies could be avoided if Malaysian and Thai authorities allowed Rohingya refugees to disembark from boats instead of callously pushing them back out to sea.  

    “The situation of remaining Rohingya refugees still stranded at sea for months is desperate. ASEAN governments must immediately launch co-ordinated search and rescue missions for remaining survivors; allow all boats carrying refugees and migrants to land safely in the nearest country; and meet their humanitarian needs. Unless this happens, more lives will inevitably be lost.”  

    Background  

    June 10, 2020

    Responding to news of a Rohingya boat intercepted off the coast of Langkawi and the subsequent detention of the 269 refugees on board, Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said: 

    “Allowing the Rohingya to disembark was a humane step in upholding their human rights. Boats carrying people in distress must always be allowed to land safely. They must not be pushed away, threatened or intimidated. 

    “It is terrible that a woman’s body was found on board – it’s clear this boat was adrift and failing to find a safe shore until then. For one person, this rescue came too late.

    “Authorities must also respect the refugees’ right to health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Malaysian government has been detaining migrants and refugees in immigration detention centres that have seen outbreaks of COVID-19. We are concerned that this latest group of refugees will also be moved to these centres, placing them at a high risk of contracting the virus and keeping the pandemic alive.

    May 04, 2020

    Responding to news that South China Morning Post journalist Tashny Sukumaran is being investigated by the Malaysian Royal Police for reporting on the mass arrests of migrant workers and refugees in Kuala Lumpur on 1 May, Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said:

    “Authorities must drop the alarming investigation against Tashny Sukumaran immediately. Journalists who report on human rights abuses related to the pandemic should be able to carry out their work without fear of persecution. During a pandemic, authorities should have more important priorities than prosecuting reporters for articles they don’t like.”

    “The Malaysian government has repeatedly used laws including the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act to curb criticism of the government since the start of the pandemic. Amnesty International Malaysia has long criticised the use of these laws, which are open to arbitrary use by the authorities, to silence journalists, government critics, and human rights defenders. These provisions must go,” Bhardwaj said.

    March 04, 2020

    The investigation of more than 20 peaceful protesters after they held two demonstrations in Malaysia over the weekend is an alarming sign of the new government’s attitude towards human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    Police have summoned at least 20 human rights defenders and political activists to give statements or undergo questioning later today. Among them is lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, one of the protest organizers. She was already questioned on 3 March and was forced to allow the police access to her Twitter account.

    “Police summons in response to peaceful protests are a return to Malaysia’s authoritarian past,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director.

    “This new government must not reverse human rights progress achieved over the last two years. These investigations are baseless and must be dropped – Malaysian people in the country must be allowed to come together and demonstrate peacefully.”

    October 11, 2019

    Malaysia must start to fulfil its promise to abolish the death penalty in forthcoming legislation by ending its use for drug-related offences and eliminating the mandatory death sentence, Amnesty International said today, as it launches a new report to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    The report, Fatally flawed: Why Malaysia must abolish the death penalty, reveals the use of torture and other ill-treatment to obtain “confessions”, inadequate access to legal assistance, an opaque pardons process and other serious violations of the right to a fair trial that have put people at risk of execution.

    The report also highlights how 73% of those on death row – 930 people – have been sentenced to death for drug-related offences in contravention of international human rights law. Almost half are foreign nationals – including nearly nine out of ten women. More than half of them (478) are foreign nationals.

    March 14, 2019

    The announcement today that the mandatory death penalty will be abolished for 11 offences should be considered Malaysia’s first step towards total abolition of the death penalty.

    “The government has sadly reneged on its earlier commitment to abolish the death penalty in totality, but we urge the government to keep its promise to abolish the death penalty once and for all at the soonest opportunity,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said today. 

    On 13 March 2019, Deputy Minister in charge of Law Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced to Parliament that the Government is proposing to introduce sentencing discretion for 11 offences under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, which currently carry the mandatory death penalty. The change would leave the imposition of the death penalty at the hands of judges.

    January 15, 2019
    Justice for Bill Kayong

    Bill Kayong, a vocal advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Malaysia, was gunned down in broad daylight in June 2016. His relatives believe the murder could have been prevented if police had acted on reports of threats and harassment leading up the killing. Furthermore, although one person was prosecuted for the crime, the person or persons who ordered the killing have escaped justice.

    Unfortunately, this tragic story is far from unique.

    A new report by Amnesty International documents a widespread pattern of violence against Indigenous leaders and communities in Malaysia. This violence is taking place in the context of a longstanding failure by federal and state authorities in Malaysia to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples when their lands are targeted for resource development.

    This is a critical time in Malaysia.

    November 29, 2018

    Indigenous communities across Malaysia face relentless harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence and even death as they peacefully resist attempts to force them off land they consider ancestral, a report by Amnesty International reveals today.

    The report, “The Forest Is Our Heartbeat:” The Struggle to Defend Indigenous Land in Malaysia, documents the countless obstacles faced by members of Indigenous communities and those who advocate on their behalf across the country. Amnesty International’s investigation is based on dozens of interviews with Indigenous community members, village heads, local activists, members of civil society organizations, lawyers, academics and journalists across Peninsular Malaysia, as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

    “The government is failing to protect Indigenous peoples’ right to land, which on paper is recognized under Malaysian law,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Malaysia Researcher at Amnesty International. “Indigenous cultures are at risk of disappearing completely, together with Malaysia’s forests.”

    October 03, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of Hassan al-Kontar by Malaysian police, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:

    “Hassan al-Kontar’s arrest is the latest misstep in a series of mishandlings of his case. It would be abhorrent to see him deported to Syria, given the critical situation there and the clear risks to his own safety. Malaysian authorities should respect the international principle of non-refoulement and find a humane solution to his ordeal.

    “The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Malaysia should have access to him, which they have requested. They have recognized him as a ‘person of interest’ and he is entitled to international protection.”

    Background

    Hassan al-Kontar is a 37 year old Syrian national who was arrested and placed on remand by Malaysian police on 2 October 2018. With no option for onward travel, he has been in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) since March 2018. He does not wish to return to Syria, where he has refused to enlist in compulsory military service.

    September 04, 2018

    Responding to the news that a sentence of six strokes of caning has been carried out in a courtroom against two women in Terengganu state – reportedly witnessed by family members and government officials – after they were convicted of attempting to have consensual same-sex sexual relations with each other, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:

    “This is a terrible day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia. To inflict this brutal punishment on two people for attempting to engage in consensual, same-sex relations is an atrocious setback in the government’s efforts to improve its human rights record.

    “The caning of the two women is a dreadful reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalization that LGBTI people face in the country. It’s a sign that the new government condones the use of measures that amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, much like its predecessor.

    August 15, 2018

    Responding to yesterday’s sentencing of two women to six strokes of caning and a fine of RM 3,300 after they were convicted of attempting to have sexual relations in Terengganu state, Gwen Lee, Amnesty International Malaysia’s Interim Executive Director said:

    “This deeply cruel sentence marks yet another severe setback in Malaysia’s treatment of LGBTI people, which is increasingly troubling.

    “Across the country, LGBTI people are facing a climate of growing discrimination and persecution. Rulings such as this only affirm that Malaysia is becoming a more hostile place for its LGBTI population.

    “Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment amounting to torture and is prohibited under international law. As well as immediately overturning this brutal sentence, the Malaysian authorities must repeal the laws that impose these torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention against Torture.”

    Background

    August 01, 2018

    We are thrilled to share this good news with all our supporters! The Malaysian authorities have acquitted and dropped all sedition charges against political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar "Zunar" Ulhaque and others. Zunar was facing prosecution for his peaceful political activities.

    Zunar was charged with nine sedition charges on 3 April 2015 for allegedly insulting the judiciary in tweets relating to then opposition leader and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Anwar Ibrahim, after he was jailed on sodomy charges

    Thank you to all of those who sent messages of solidarity for Zunar as part of Write for Rights 2015.

    July 30, 2018

    Responding to news that the Malaysian authorities have acquitted and dropped all sedition charges against political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque, lawmaker R. Sivarasa and civil rights lawyer N. Surendran, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:

    “Zunar, Sivarasa and Surendran have shown great courage in shining a spotlight on injustices such as corruption and abuse of power. Their acquittal is a positive development but the Malaysian authorities must do more to protect people who dare to speak out.

    “The new government must take this opportunity to usher in a new era for human rights by fully restoring freedom of expression and abolishing the 1948 Sedition Act, an archaic piece of legislation which has been repeatedly used to target dissenting voices. The authorities must also drop any other charges under the Act and, pending its repeal, ensure that no one else is arrested, investigated, charged or imprisoned under its draconian provisions.”

    Background

    July 11, 2018

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned by recent backlash against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Malaysia by several politicians, including the Minister of Religious Affairs, as well as threats against a prominent LGBTI activist. Amnesty International calls on the new government to condemn recent attacks against LGBTI people in Malaysia, adopt policies to protect LGBTI people from discrimination and ensure full enjoyment of their rights.

    Last week, Minister for Religious Affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa said that even though he has pledged to listen to the views of LGBTI people in the country, this should not be construed as overt support for LGBTI people.

    A member of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), a conservative opposition party, then said that LGBTI people “infringe on society’s rights and the norms of humanity”, while the Deputy Head of Government in Kelantan State stated that “gays and lesbians” are “bigger issues” for the country, compared to a recent case of child marriage that was widely condemned both domestically and abroad.

    July 03, 2018

    Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes the 2 July announcement by Datuk Seri Nadzri Siron, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Home Affairs, that the government of Malaysia has put the implementation of the death sentences of 17 prisoners on hold, pending the review of the country’s death penalty laws.

    The announcement comes only days after Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed the government’s commitment to consider abolishing the mandatory death penalty for all crimes.

    “We have long waited for the suspension of executions in Malaysia and yesterday’s announcement of a reprieve for 17 people fills us with hope for a new chapter in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. This first step must promptly be followed by the total abolition of the death penalty for all crimes,” said Gwen Lee, Interim Executive Director at Amnesty International Malaysia.

    According to figures revealed by the deputy director of the Prisons Department, 1,267 people are under sentence of death in Malaysia, including 442 who have had their legal appeals finalized.

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