Thursday, May 26, 2016

Workers' Protest - Has Media become partners of the oppressor, the powerful..?

Malaysian Media and journalist just not bothered about worker rights or community rights...?

Well, there were workers who came out bravely to fight for their rights - something that is just not easy at all. They risked all including the possibility of losing their jobs and hence their families livelihood...[Or even being arrested by the police...}

But alas, the Media was not bothered - in Malaysia, sadly media seems bothered only on 'popular' issues - politicians being barred entry from Sarawak, 'disputes' between and within political parties, Anwar and his numerous self-issues (noting that to date, Anwar is yet to champion better prison conditions or raise the other concerns of fellow prisoners), 1MDB, Mahathir's Citizen Declaration, RM2.6 billion, ..well, these issues are important but really the issues and struggles of ordinary people, workers and communities are also just as important..

Media decides what is 'popular', that is what they sometimes do not realize. 

They have the ability - nay the duty to highlight the voices of the small person - workers, local communities, etc... yet, in Malaysia, they are failing miserably... Take the issue of bauxite mining and its consequences to heath, environment, livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk ..but how many media organisations even carried that issue save for the New Straits Times that did remarkably well, in not just highlighting that issue but also following up with scientific investigations, etc.. and finally the government took note and may have started doing something..

Likewise, there are many injustices happening to workers, farmers and the 'small' people but alas, our MEDIA seem unbothered..

What happened in Tasek Cement? What was the reason for the picket? What were the workers' demands? What was the employer's response? What was the outcome of this struggle? ...Well, all I got was some images from Facebook..but, I too, am not sure of the demands or their struggle... Will our media follow up...

People bravely speak up - but our Media does not bother to highlight...As it is the government, the employer or even the political parties may be not bothered - but the Media, if they did their job, would have been able to provide the relevant information to the public and maybe we will all care and help justice be done. But, if we too are kept in the dark by Media - well, then how will we be able to help ensure justice in Malaysia?

There are less and less workers, farmers, fishermen and local communities speaking out, highlighting human rights abuses and claiming justice - and our Media, is not helping. It in fact, is helping the government and even big businesses ensure that the voices of people are not heard...

Malaysia's media's indifference only helps people lose hope - and injustices and human rights violations will reign supreme. Hence, the problems in Malaysia is being consciously or unconsciously being escalated by the their 'indifference' their 'policies', etc...

Highlighting the issues and demands of the people, getting in also the responses of the alleged perpetrators and the responsible agencies/Ministries, following up on what happens until the end - the victories or the failures will certainly help make Malaysia a better place...It will also encourage a generally 'docile' and 'silent in the face of rights violation' people in Malaysia by giving them HOPE that it is not useless and struggles can bring victories and general improvement in Malaysia - hence their lives and the lives of their families and communities..

Political parties are failing the people - many have forgotten that they too have a duty to champion justice and human rights for the ordinary people - even if it is a 'small' issue...But alas, even statements on human rights and justice issues by many groups and organizations are simply not carried.

In past struggles, it was the MEDIA that played a significant role in bringing about change because they 'communicated' issues of people to the larger community and that helped people generally to form opinions - hence the politicians and the government will be compelled to bring about change...but alas, Malaysian Media seems lacking or maybe they have unconsciously become 'partners' in oppression of the small person and communities? 

The government wants them to be the 'loudspeakers' of the government....the Opposition politicians want them to highlight their issues...But, the media is supposed to be 'loudspeakers' of ordinary people, workers, etc - to highlight their issue, so Malaysia hears, the government hears, the Opposition hears... and then will be forced to respond to ensure justice and human rights...

Now, in the internet age, we have also the alternative online media, blogs, websites and any/all ADUNs/MPs/Political parties can also have their own sites and tools of communication...just do a google search, and you would see how many really raises the issues of the small person and communities..?

Hopefully, our MEDIA will change..who will investigate this recent worker protest and tell us all what are the issues, the demands and follow up on it??? We shall see...we shall see...

Edmond Bon, Malaysia's AICHR Rep, justifies Malaysia's failure to improve Human Rights situation? Shifts blame from Najib and government?

I was most disappointed when I read this news report - I expected more from Edmund Bon..

Has Edmond Bon become an apologist for the Malaysian Government? In a recent, news report, he explains (or rather justifies) why Malaysia has not moved in improving the human rights standards in Malaysia...the blame seems to be placed on 'agencies that are supposed to implement...". Well, for me, this is lame and cannot excuse Prime Minister Najib and the BN government... 

Edmond Bon was a human rights lawyer, and even still is a sitting member of the Malaysian Bar Council, and as such I would have expected more...and still do have hope in Edmond Bon.

I must say that I was rather 'shocked' when Edmond accepted this appointment as AICHR rep at this time from the BN government of PM Najib.  

This appointment was far from being appointed as a Human Rights Commissioner( which allowed the appointee the freedom and the capacity to act independently for the promotion and protection of Human Rights..) but an AICHR[Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights] rep is merely a Malaysian government representative in an ASEAN committee/sub-committee.. Like government representative, he will only be seen to be speaking for and on behalf of Malaysia...and maybe that explains the media report...

One must remember that the Malaysia's immediate past AICHR representative, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, did take a position to abolish the death penalty despite Malaysia's own official position was to maintain not just the death penalty but also the mandatory death penalty...[We also know of Nazri, a Minister, who made public his personal position for the abolition of the death penalty]

It's time to end the death penalty

A deeper impact beyond the gallows (NST-Column)

Maybe, Edmund Bon should be also taking public stands on human rights - rather than just playing the role of Malaysia's apologist justifying Malaysia's failure in the field of human rights.

Recently, even in when Malaysia's Kho Jabing was facing the death penalty in Singapore, one would have expected our new AICHR rep to have come out with a stand - more so since he is a lawyer and member of the Malaysian Bar who has the clear position for the abolition of the death penalty....but there seems to be only silence...WHY?

Well, then we had the case of Maria Chin's being barred from traveling - and, yet again our new AICHR rep said nothing..

Maria - Arbitrary Travel Ban? No court order? No notice? Gross Violation of Rights? 

Well, we may have lost a potential human rights defender - or maybe we may have just lost Edmund Bon, who after being appointed by Najib-led government - will be no more be interested in highlighting Malaysia's own human rights violation - let alone making a public position from a human rights perspective on such rights violations...

AICHR reps like Edmund Bon, compared to civil servants, do not really depend on the government for economic survival - and hence should be braver about pointing out the actions of the Malaysian government that violate human rights...

If he has already been 'compromised' or is more concerned about the 'position', then Edmund Bon will not help improve the situation of human rights in Malaysia, let alone ASEAN..

We shall see...we shall hope...and only the future will decide how we judge Edmund Bon? 

Well Edmund Bo, be aware that for Malaysia - it not just a question of delay in improving Human Rights situation - but a case of deteriorating human rights situation...the latest NEW violation was the not allowing of Maria Chin to leave the country...???

Considering the state of HR in Malaysia itself, a Malaysian rep trying to promote HR rights in ASEAN may be seen as a 'joke' - Maybe, Edmund Bon, in protest to these ever increasing violations of human rights should just RESIGN - and that maybe the best he could do for the cause of Human Rights and Justice...Or maybe take public positions about HR violations in Malaysia, until this current government is forced to find another rep..


Govt's human rights moves 'getting stuck' with agencies

Koh Jun Lin     Published     Updated  

The government’s efforts to improve human rights standards in the country are being stalled by the agencies that are supposed to implement them, said a local rights representative.

Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Malaysia representative Edmond Bon said since Malaysia’s last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in 2013, Wisma Putra had made recommendations that Malaysia should sign up to more human rights conventions, drop its reservations on the conventions that it has already signed, and improve its human rights standards.

“But then what happens is that when it comes back, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepares a paper, lists out the issues and problems, and then there is an implementing agency that it goes to, and it is stuck there.

“Or, they would say you need to refer this to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, but the Attorney-General’s Chambers, as I understand it, they have so much on their plate that they don’t have the capacity to handle this.

“And then nothing moves. If nothing moves, then nothing goes to the cabinet,” he told an informal meeting in Kuala Lumpur hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Malaysia (FCCM) last night.

The same also happens with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) recommendations, which has made little progress after the papers are sent to the relevant agencies.

Bon said this is what he learned since he was appointed as Malaysia’s AICHR representative on April 1, where he has been engaging with various agencies to take stock of Malaysia’s position on international human rights treaties.

Disconnect among the agencies

“I find that there is sort of a disconnect (among the agencies), and this is sometimes accidental; it is not by design,” he added.

He said Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low is looking into these hurdles in hopes of expediting the process.

Malaysia has thus far ratified three out of the nine UN core human rights instruments: those concerning the rights of persons with disabilities, the rights of children, and discrimination against women.

The six that Malaysia has not signed include those that deal with torture, civil and political rights, enforced disappearance, racial discrimination, economic, social, and cultural rights, and the protection of migrant workers.

The UPR process occurs in cycles lasting approximately four years through meetings at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Malaysia’s human rights record will be up for review again in 2018.

During the last review, where each of the 104 countries present had 75 seconds to grill Malaysian representatives, many had urged Malaysia to sign and ratify the six remaining human rights instruments, and to drop its reservations on the conventions that it has already ratified.

Meanwhile, back in the Asean region, Bon conceded that AICHR had been focused on human rights promotion rather than protection, during its past six years of existence.

However, things are beginning to change.

This is in part due to a new line of AICHR representatives who have been appointed, including Bon, as their predecessors’ terms came to its two-term limit.

AICHR representatives are appointed for three-year terms.

‘Give AICHR a chance’

The last meeting in Jakarta in April had been promising, with each country agreeing to undertake at least one project.

Malaysia will be dealing with issues related to freedom of expression this year, and the people’s right to water and sanitation next year.

In particular, Bon said he is tasked with drafting an explanatory note for Article 23 of the Asean Human Right Declaration, which pertains to freedom of opinion and expression, which he intends to finish by July.

This would include issues such as the enabling environments for media practitioners to work in, regulations, censorship, and the protection of media practitioners and sources.

“We will issue a general comment (on Article 23), and if (all) ten AICHR representatives accept it, that is the standard for Asean,” he said.

He explained that once Asean members have agreed to a set of standards, then the floor is open to start talking about human rights protection.

However if even one country objects, then the draft would not be accepted. This, he said, had contributed to AICHR being paralysed over the past six years.

Nevertheless, Bon urged for patience and to give AICHR a chance.

“When the inter-American human rights system started, when the European system started, when the African system started; they started out as commissions.

“It started way back, a long time ago, just giving comments. Then they moved on to monitoring, then moved on to interventions, and then moved on to being a court.

“So in the Asean context especially with its consensus-based way of doing things, we must give it a chance,” he said.

Maria - Arbitrary Travel Ban? No court order? No notice? Gross Violation of Rights?

When Rights Are Trampled - Some of Us Just Accept It... Tolerate It and Move on....BUT that is where the problem arises, for the Violator of the Rights becomes emboldened that he got away with it, and thereafter will more easily trample on other rights and more rights... That is why we have to not tolerate the violation of rights, be it against us or others...

...immigration authorities have also inexplicably refused to provide her with any written document and, in fact, any reason whatsoever for her travel ban, merely saying that it was on the “instructions of Putrajaya”...
Now, the Malaysian government, in my opinion, arbitrarily denied a Malaysian the right to travel overseas... so, what do we do about this? Nothing - well, then the next time it may be you...

Well, is the Malaysian government going to compensate her - reimburse her the cost of the flight ticket, and all that she had expended....

Well, is the Malaysian government going to say 'SORRY' because we did wrong?

Will we stop with 'words' and statements - or is it now time to take this matter to the courts and claim justice? I still do have faith in the Malaysian judiciary....and judges must realize they are not in the business of 'doing as the government wants' - but upholding the cause of justice without fear or favour. There may have been some judgments by some judges that may have gotten us worried enough to ask whether the 'Malaysian Judiciary may have lost their way...? But, we shall see..

There is, of course, a wider implication to Malaysia - how will it affect the foreign investors - well, if Malaysia can simply bar Maria from traveling abroad, what guarantee that the travel rights of others may also non be affected similarly in the future? 

The law must provide certainty and most importantly basic human rights should NEVER be arbitrarily denied  

We recollect the barring of access to Malaysian Insider - in that case, I am of the opinion that the Malaysian government had no legal authority to that...  but alas, those actions of the government were never challenged in court...

Press Release |  

Summary and Arbitrary Restriction of the Right to Travel is an Abuse of Authority 
The Malaysian Bar deplores the growing trend of the Federal and State Governments imposing travel bans on Malaysian citizens seeking to move within and without Malaysia. These appear to be done either by misconstruing existing legal provisions or, worse still, in the absence of any legal basis whatsoever

The recent ban imposed on Maria Chin Abdullah, the Chairperson of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (“BERSIH 2.0”), is a deeply troubling example. The immigration authorities prevented her from boarding her flight to South Korea at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 15 May 2016. She was on her way to accept the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016 on behalf of BERSIH 2.0. 

It has been reported that Maria Chin Abdullah had not been given any prior warning or notice by the immigration authorities that she had been barred from leaving the country. Indeed, it has also been reported that she had travelled overseas as recently as December 2015 without any hindrance. The immigration authorities have also inexplicably refused to provide her with any written document and, in fact, any reason whatsoever for her travel ban, merely saying that it was on the “instructions of Putrajaya”.[1] 

The Deputy Minister for Home Affairs I, Datuk Nur Jazlan bin Mohamed, was then quoted as saying that the Government has“… the power to bar anybody from leaving the country … It’s the power given to the Immigration; we don’t need to explain why.”[2] 

The Malaysian Bar respectfully disagrees with the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs I. There is no general discretionary power to restrict a citizen’s right to travel in and out of Malaysia. Unrestrained discretion in the hands of the Government is a myth. There is a limited power to restrict a citizen’s right to travel, but only under specific legislation such as Section 104 of the Income Tax Act 1967 and Section 38A(1) of the Bankruptcy Act 1967. There is no express provision to bar travel under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

Further, a travel ban violates the right to life or personal liberty that is guaranteed in Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution, which extends to the right to travel.[3] It is also untenable for the immigration authorities to restrict an individual’s right to travel without giving any written reasons. There is a duty to give reasons in law when a fundamental right is denied. The immigration authorities therefore have a legal obligation to provide the justification for imposing a travel ban on a particular individual. 

The failure to specify the basis for barring travel would imply that none in fact exists, and that the decision is simply a capricious exercise of discretion by the immigration authorities to restrict freedom of movement of selected persons. It gives rise to a perception of abuse of power. This and other incidents of travel bans being imposed will also invariably be viewed as a blatant attempt to intimidate and silence those who seek to exercise their freedom of movement and expression to expose wrongdoing within the corridors of power. 

In properly upholding the rule of law and administration of justice, there must be accountability and transparency in decision-making by law enforcement authorities. Power must not be wantonly accumulated and wrongfully exercised. It should not be forgotten that Parliament has approved amendments to the Sedition Act 1948 to allow for criticism of Government, which the Government has refused thus far to bring into force. Travel bans must not be used to perpetuate that which has, in principle, been abolished. 

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to immediately rescind the overseas travel ban that the authorities have imposed on Maria Chin Abdullah and others, and to cease and desist from resorting to any illegitimate means of wrongfully silencing its critics. The Government must also take concrete measures to promote open and constructive criticism of itself by others, safeguard each citizen’s right to unimpeded freedom of movement and freedom of expression, and adhere to basic principles of the rule of law and natural justice. 

Steven Thiru
Malaysian Bar

19 May 2016

[1] “Maria Chin barred from leaving Malaysia at KLIA”, New Straits Times Online, 16 May 2016. ). 

[2] “Nur Jazlan says not obliged to explain Bersih chief’s travel ban”, Malay Mail Online, 16 May 2016.. 

[3] Lee Kwan Woh v Public Prosecutor [2009] 5 MLJ 301 at p.314.

Maria Chin may challenge travel ban in court

FMT Reporters
 | May 23, 2016
The civil rights activist has already begun preliminary discussions with Bersih's lawyers.


PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah is considering challenging her overseas travel ban in court, she said in an interview with the Southeast Asia Globe magazine.

“I’ve begun preliminary discussions with our lawyers,” the civil rights activist said in the interview published today.

In the interview, Chin said the government’s move to bar her from travelling overseas was “politically motivated” and an infringement on her personal liberty and freedom of movement.
Besides calling Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed “arrogant” for his response to her questioning the travel ban, Chin also opined that the ban showed the government’s desperation to hold on to power.

Chin was recently stopped from flying to South Korea to accept a human rights award on behalf of Bersih 2.0.- FMT News, 23/5/2016

Maria Chin mulls legal action over travel ban

Monday May 23, 2016
03:33 PM GMT+8

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Bersih 2.0 head Maria Chin Abdullah said she is considering challenging in court the government prohibition against her from travelling abroad.

“I’ve [begun] preliminary discussions with our lawyers,” the electoral reform activist told magazine Southeast Asia Globe in an interview published today.

Chin was recently stopped at the airport from flying to South Korea to accept a human rights award on behalf of Bersih 2.0.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said the government’s purported power to impose arbitrary travel restrictions against Malaysians was a “myth”, insisting that travel bans could only be enforced in limited scenarios like bankruptcies or tax defaults.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, however, claimed that travel restrictions can be imposed on grounds of national security and against Malaysians who violate the Federal Constitution.

Monday, May 23, 2016

PAS right in condemning the execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami in Bangladesh? Unfair Trials? Targetting Opposition? Abolish Death Penalty?

Motiur Rahman Nizami on 11/5/2016  forces us to look at Bangladesh, and the Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal (BICT), which really is not even an International tribunal - but really a Bangladeshi Tribunal.

after the Awami League won the general election in December 2008 with a more than two-thirds majority in parliament, they started using it. The BICT is 

international fair trial standards, a fact that has been raised by the UN and many Human Rights Groups. Even the Bangladesh's

lmost all of the ICT’s verdicts since it was established have been against members of opposition parties, mainly individuals associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Well serious crimes were also committed by pro-independence forces, but no one has been investigated or brought to justice for them.

In August 2013, the Bangladesh's High Court declared the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's main Islamist party, is illegal, banning it from contesting January's general election. - Aljazeera, 1/8/2013

By 2012, nine leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the nation, and two of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, had been indicted as suspects in war crimes. In February 2013, Abdul Quader Molla, Assistant Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was the first person sentenced to death by the ICT who was not convicted in absentia.

Quader Molla, former assistant secretary of  Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 12 December 2013.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, former  Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami was hanged on 22 November 2015

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury,  seven-term member of parliament and member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) hanged on 22 November 2015

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, former senior assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 11 April 2015.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 11/5/2016.

Others who have been convicted BICT and sentenced to death, and yet to be executed are Mir Quasem Ali (Jamaat-e-Islami) and Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin(uncertain?)

of Motiur Rahman Nizami, being one of the key leaders of Jemaat E-Islami Bangladesh. PAS sees this execution as an action by reason of political rivalry and an act of revenge against Jemaat E-Islami Bangladesh and its leaders. PAS urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed from the Awami League of Bangladesh to stop such cruel and uncivilized actions against Jemaat E-Islami Bangladesh and its leaders in an effort to retain power [Translation of what I consider the gist, the actual statement in Bahasa Malaysia - Harakah Daily, 11/5/2016]

The PAS Youth Wing (Dewan Pemuda PAS Malaysia) also issued a similar statement - see Harakah Daily, 12/5/2016)

PAS needs to now take the just position  calling for the abolition of the death penalty not just in Bangladesh, but also in Malaysia.

Bangladesh executes Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes

Jamaat-e-Islami calls for general strike after hanging of its leader who was convicted of genocide, rape and massacres.

Bangladesh has executed head of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami party Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence to break away from Pakistan, the country's law minister said.

Nizami was hanged at Dhaka Central jail at one minute past midnight local time on Wednesday after the Supreme Court rejected his final plea against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide, rape and orchestrating the massacre of top intellectuals during the war.

Thousands of extra police and border guards were deployed in the capital Dhaka and other major cities to tighten security as Jamaat-e-Islami called for a nationwide strike on Thursday in protest of the execution.

Previous similar judgments and executions have triggered violence that killed around 200 people, mainly Jamaat activists and police.
Bangladesh opposition leader loses death penalty appeal
Al Jazeera's Tanvir Chowdhury, reporting from Dhaka, said the situation was still calm in the capital by Wednesday and there were no reports of violence in other cities.

"Unlike the last few years, Jamaat has not been able to materialise any kind of protest on the streets," he said, adding that this was mainly due to heavy-handed tactics used by the security forces.

"Jamaat supporters are not allowed to gather anywhere. Many of the leaders are behind the bars or on the run," he said.

"Human rights groups have criticised the government for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. So, it is hard for them to gather anywhere. We will see what will come out of Jamaat's call for a 24-hour strike tomorrow from 6am."

Jamaat-e-Islami denies that its leaders committed any atrocities. Calling Nizami a "martyr", it said he was deprived of justice and made a victim of a political vendetta. Nizami had been in prison since 2010.

'False allegations'

A senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader based abroad told Al Jazeera that Nizami was a supporter of Pakistan in 1971 but "all other allegations of killing, murder and rape are not correct. The tribunal has miserably failed to prove any of those allegations."

He said Jamaat leaders inside Bangladesh were not giving interviews because their phones were tapped and their families were harassed if they spoke to media.

"Not only leaders, thousands of middle-ranking and ordinary Jamaat workers have been forced to flee their homes due to police repression or harassment. They are refugees in their own country due the vindictive nature of this government," he said.

"Their agenda is to wipe out Islam gradually and whoever they think opposes their policies is being targeted."

Five opposition politicians, including four Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, have been executed since late 2013 after being convicted by the tribunal.

International human rights groups say the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards - an accusation the government denies.

According to Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asia division at the Human Rights Watch, the trial was neither free nor fair as the court was cutting corners on fair trial standards.

“For example, Nizami was allowed to have only four defence witnesses as a man fighting for his life.

And the court did allow defence to challenge the inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses," he told Al Jazeera from Bangkok.

"Finally, we have seen a significant problem in all of these war crimes trials, where the presiding judge was having ongoing discussions about judicial strategy with external consultants and prosecutors in a way that raises concerns about the independence of the panel."

Hundreds of people, mostly university students, took out a procession from Dhaka University to celebrate the execution [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]

David Bergman, an investigative journalist in Dhaka, told Al Jazeera that there was long-standing allegations against Nizami since the end of the war.

"So the fact that there was a trial in which he was accused of these crimes is not itself political," he said, while also noting rights groups' criticism of the trials.

"There are no doubts that many members of Jamaat-e-Islami are concerned about trials and executions targeting its members, and the party itself is subject to significant repression."

The war crimes tribunal set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 has sparked violence and drawn criticism from opposition politicians, including leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, that it is victimising Hasina's political opponents.

According to the Bangladesh government, about three million people were killed and thousands of women were raped during the 1971 war in which some factions, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, opposed the break from what was then called West Pakistan.

The execution comes as the country suffers a surge in violence in which atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers have been killed.

In April alone, five people, including a university teacher, two gay activists and a Hindu, were hacked to death. - Aljazeera, 11/5/2016

Motiur Rahman Nizami: Bangladeshi Islamist leader hanged

  • 10 May 2016
An Islamist leader has been hanged in Bangladesh for crimes during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, 73, was executed early on Wednesday (local time), Law Minister Anisul Haq confirmed.

He had been convicted of genocide, rape and torture.

Nizami had led Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami. Hundreds of people gathered near his prison in the capital Dhaka to celebrate the hanging.

Nizami was the fifth and highest-ranked opposition leader to be executed since December 2013 for war crimes.

Bangladesh says the prosecutions are needed to heal the wounds of conflict but human rights groups say the trials fall short of global standards and lack international oversight.

'Deprived of justice'

Last week, Nizami lost his final appeal against the sentence. He was hanged after refusing to seek mercy from President Abdul Hamid.

"Nizami has been deprived of justice," Jamaat's acting leader, Maqbul Ahmad, said. "He's a victim of political vengeance."

The party also called for a nationwide strike on Thursday.

Security was tightened across the country ahead of the execution.

Nizami is the fourth leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party to have been executed since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up a war crimes tribunal to look into abuses during the independence war.

A former government minister, Nizami was one of the most important figures to be found guilty.

He was convicted of setting up a militia which helped the Pakistani army identify and kill pro-independence activists.

Nizami will be buried in his village home in the northern part of Bangladesh.

His family met him briefly before his execution but left without speaking to the media, Bangladesh's Daily Star reports.

The hanging comes amid a spate of killings of liberal activists, secularists, foreigners and members of religious minorities that the government has blamed on Islamists.

Bangladesh independence war, 1971

  • Civil war erupts in Pakistan, pitting the West Pakistan army against East Pakistanis demanding autonomy and later independence
  • Fighting forces an estimated 10 million East Pakistani civilians to flee to India
  • In December, India invades East Pakistan in support of the East Pakistani people
  • Pakistani army surrenders at Dhaka and its army of more than 90,000 become Indian prisoners of war
  • East Pakistan becomes the independent country of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971
  • Exact number of people killed is unclear - Bangladesh says it is three million but independent researchers put the figure at up to 500,000 fatalities.

Source: BBC, 10/5/2016


Nizami executed

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Matiur Rahman NizamiBangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami chief and former minister Matiur Rahman Nizami was executed on Wednesday on charge of crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971.

Also a former member of parliament, Nizami was executed inside the Dhaka central jail shortly after the midnight past Tuesday following exhaustion of all legal options.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), AKM Shahidul Hoque, confirmed to the Prothom Alo that Nizami was executed at 12:10am on Wednesday.

Earlier in the evening, Nizami’s family members met him in jail for the last time at 8:00pm on Tuesday.

Some 25 family members of Nizami stayed around one and half an hours inside the jail and had their final talks with Nizami.

The ameer of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is the fifth such convict, who was hanged after awarded with death sentence by the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh (ICT,B).

The jail authorities started taking all necessary preparations to execute the Jamaat leader shortly after the government’s execution order reached the prison on Tuesday afternoon.

The home ministry ordered the jail authorities to hang Nizami after the chief of the Islam-based political party refused to seek presidential mercy for his life, the last step of the legal process before the execution.

Security in and around the Dhaka Central Jail was beefed up with the deployment of huge contingent of law enforcement agency members in the area.

Additional police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members were seen to station around the Dhaka jail.

Besides, members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were deployed in the capital as elsewhere in the country to fend off any untoward incident.

All the roads around the central jail were made off-limits to traffic in the evening.

Earlier, an inmate of Kashimpur Central Jail, Mohammad Raju, was brought to Dhaka Central Jail on Tuesday as he was believed to be the main hangman for Nizami.

Members of law enforcement agencies entered the jail along with hangman Mohammad Raju around 3:00pm, officials said.

On 15 March, the ICT,B issued a death warrant for Nizami on charge of crimes against humanity during the liberation war.

Earlier on 6 January this year, a four-member bench of the Appellate Division, headed by the chief justice, Surendra Kumar Sinha, upheld the death sentence of the Jamaat ameer.

The apex court upheld his death penalty on three of the four counts of charges while he was acquitted on the rest one.

The SC upheld his life term imprisonment on two charges, out of four in connection with the arrest, detention, torture, and murder of three people, including headmaster Maulana Kasim Uddin of Pabna Zila School on 4 June 1971, complicity in torture, murder and rape at Mohammadpur Physical Training Institute in Dhaka, and murder of Badi, Rumi, Jewel and Azad at Old MP Hostel in Dhaka on 30 August 1971.

The ICT,B sentenced Nizami the capital punishment each on four counts of charges of war crimes.

On 29 October 2014, the ICT,B-1 sentenced Nizami to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war.

Nizami filed an appeal with the SC on 23 November 2014 challenging the death sentence and claimed himself innocent and sought to be cleared of the charges.

Earlier on 22 November 2015, two former ministers—BNP standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed—were executed on charge of crimes against humanity during the liberation war in 1971.

Before that, Jamaat-e-Islami assistant secretary general Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was executed on 11 April 2015 and another assistant secretary general Abdul Kader Molla on 12 December 2013 on the same charge.

Jamaat, however, claimed all along that the trial process was flawed and its leaders have been made victims of political vendetta. - Prothom Allo Banglades, 12/5/2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Kho Jabing - Singapore's Rush to Hang Him? No time for proper clemency considerations? Why?

Kho Jabing, young Malaysian migrant worker, has been executed by Singapore...but in the aftermath, Singapore's administration of justice is being questioned. How can it be a 'fair trial' when one of the judges sat in the Court of Appeal that re-sentenced him to death sat in an earlier Court of Appeal. The expectation of an independent judge untainted by 'bias' is a pre-requisite for a fair trial. A judge who has already previously heard an Appeal by Kho Jabing will certainly no longer be unbiased - and normally a Judge in this situation would have recused himself and not heard that new Appeal..

One may not have realised this before, but after it was raised - Singapore should have acknowledged the 'mistake' and done the right thing.. see earlier post: QUESTIONABLE VALIDITY OF THE COURT OF APPEAL THAT RE-SENTENCED KHO JABING TO DEATH REASON ENOUGH FOR IMMEDIATE STAY OF EXECUTION OF KHO JABING, NOW SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY 20/5/2016

Anyway, the lawyers of Kho Jabing filed applications to Court - but the manner in which the Courts conducted themselves was disturbing. There seem to be more concern about hanging Kho Jabing on Friday(20/5/2016) - Wesak Day, over and above everything else..

The hearings were rushed through without even according enough time for the lawyers to prepare...Why?  AND guess what, the same judge whose presence may have invalidated the sentence to death sat and heard the application. See:-  MADPET CONCERNED ABOUT THE UNFAIRNESS OF THE HEARING OF APPLICATION BYKHO JABING CHALLENGING THE VALIDITY OF A COURT OF APPEAL DECISION BECAUSE JAPHANG WAS ON THAT CORAM.

What happened? Did that judge get 'personal' and let his feelings affect his judgment? At the end of the day, I would say that Kho Jabing became a victim of an unfair trial...would you not agree?

What about Clemency? Surely, afterer the amendment that came into effect, and the case was sent for re-sentencing to the High Court, which decided that Kho Jabing should not be hanged, and the appeal to the Court of Appeal thereafter that decided that he should be hanged again on a 'split decision' 3-2, Kho Jabing deserves a right to a Clemency consideration - but then the date of execution was fixed so fast, even though the notice that the application for Clemency was forthcoming shortly - and the Clemency Petition was filed - but how could that have been disposed in so few days - more so with the date of hanging being fixed. Pressure was put on the those who had to consider the Clemency application ...and this, too is not right. The Malaysian Bar, Advocates Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association sent a letter to the Singapore President dated 18/5/2016 (see that letter below).

To hang a man to death, surely Singapore should have given more careful consideration and there was no need to rush the execution. Why did Singapore rush the execution of this Malaysian Kho Jabing? Was it in the hope that a speedy execution will make people disinterested in the apparent flaws in the Singapore administration of justice that has led to this execution?

Would Singapore review this case or simply say that Jabing is already dead, so there is no need? 

Would we forget and walk away? I hope not - for there are others in similar cases awaiting to be hanged in Singapore...and we should try to make sure that they do not. In any event, I believe that the family of Kho Jabing, if they so do, may have a case against Singapore - but then, if the Singapore courts are going to behave in the manner they did in the past few days - will justice be done?

Maybe Malaysia should consider acting against Singapore to ensure that justice is done - maybe even take this matter up to some international court? [But then, maybe Malaysia is not so bothered about a life of a Srawakian - maybe, if it was little island in dispute, Malaysia will be more interested. And then there is that ASEAN comaraderie ... Will justice be done ...or will it all be 'swept under the carpet' - after all Kho Jabing is just a poor Sarawakian migrant worker of little significance...

What Malaysia did for Kho Jabing also need to raise concerns? What assistance will Malaysia give to Malaysians overseas who need our assistance??

The response of Malaysia's Opposition was also pathetic -  Kho Jabing will hang on Friday - what will BN,PKR,DAP,PAS, to try and save this Sarawakian?


Joint Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Singapore | Appeal for Clemency for Kho Jabing PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 05:09pm

18 May 2016

H.E. Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam
President of the Republic of Singapore
c/o H.E. Vanu Gopala Menon
High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to Malaysia
209 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
(Delivered by hand)

Your Excellency,

Appeal for Clemency for Kho Jabing

We are jointly writing to you in our capacities as the Presidents of the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak, Sabah Law Association and Malaysian Bar, respectively.  We represent approximately 20,000 lawyers who are practising in Malaysia.

As Your Excellency may be aware, the prison authorities at Changi Prison, Singapore had on Thursday, 12 May 2016, written to the family of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian from Sarawak, to inform them that he will be hanged on Friday, 20 May 2016.  We are concerned that the family has only been given very short notice of Kho Jabing’s impending hanging.

Kho Jabing was first sentenced to hang in 2011, pursuant to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty provisions, when he was found guilty of murder.  However, when provisions were introduced for a review of the mandatory death penalty, he was resentenced to life in prison and whipping.  On a subsequent appeal by the prosecution, his death sentence was reinstated.  This clearly shows that the prosecution was not satisfied that justice had been done and that Kho Jabing would pay for his crime by spending the rest of his life in prison, and be whipped, but actively sought the imposition of the death penalty.

More importantly, in the course of his trial, appeal and review, one judge of the High Court of Singapore and two justices of the Court of Appeal of Singapore had opined that Kho Jabing had not exhibited a “blatant disregard for human life” and should therefore not be sentenced to hang.

The question of whether Kho Jabing should live or die, we respectfully suggest and humbly submit, should not ultimately depend on the collective decisions of a majority of judges.  The fact that learned judges of Singapore have expressed doubts that Kho Jabing exhibited sufficient mens rea or intention to commit the crime of murder should, in and of itself, give rise to concerns whether Kho Jabing should be made to pay the ultimate price for his crime and be sentenced to hang.  If there is any doubt at all about his level of intention, and there genuinely is, that doubt must be resolved in Kho Jabing’s favour.
This is not, we wish to clarify, a questioning of the system of justice in Singapore.  Kho Jabing was found to have committed a crime, and we accept that.  Neither is this a questioning of the sovereignty of the nation of Singapore or the jurisdiction of the courts of Singapore.  Laws passed by Singapore’s own legislature have provided for a review of the mandatory death sentence.  The doubts that have been raised have been so raised by Singapore’s own judges.
This is an appeal for a reconsideration of the case and the grant of mercy.  We ask Your Excellency to take into account that there is genuine doubt whether a death sentence is justified in this case.  The death penalty is an irreversible punishment.  Once taken, Kho Jabing’s life cannot be returned to him or his family.  

We therefore sincerely implore Your Excellency to exercise Your Excellency’s discretion with respect to the power of pardon and to commute Kho Jabing’s sentence to that of imprisonment, and to stop his execution once and for all.

We thank Your Excellency for considering this call for clemency.   

Yours sincerely, 

Leonard Shim
Advocates’ Association of Sarawak

Brenndon Soh 
Sabah Law Association 

Steven Thiru 
Malaysian Bar

The life of Kho Jabing

Kirsten Han     Published     Updated  
COMMENT This is Jabing Kho. He was born in 1984, in a taxi on the way to hospital.

He grew up in a longhouse and was very close to his little sister Jumai, who turns 28 years old today.

He worked on a family plantation, then as a technician laying cables in Miri before moving to Singapore to earn a better wage to help his family.

He called his mother twice a day - once when he woke up in the morning, and once before going to bed at night.

He got very drunk one night - we don't know how drunk exactly, or how much the excessive levels of Ethanol he had consumed affected his mental capacity, because this was never established properly in court.

He did a very stupid, awful thing. Even a High Court judge said his choice of weapon was impulsive.
He didn't mean to kill a man, but he did.

For this one moment of violence our Singaporean criminal justice system began to exact a slow, steady vengeance.

We sentenced him to death, then life, then death again.

He sat in prison for nine years knowing he was waiting to be taken to die.

The Cabinet decided on clemency, the president signed the warrant, the prisons scheduled the execution.

His family were told to buy clothes for his pre-execution photo shoot, and to make funeral preparations for a man who was, at that time, neither critically ill nor dead.

There is no death, no murder, more premeditated than what happened today.

Last night, as Jabing's legal team scrambled and struggled to prepare for their sudden 9am appeal hearing, Jumai told me that Jabing had wanted her to celebrate her birthday.

"Don't worry about me," he'd told her. "You should celebrate your birthday and not think about me. When you blow out the candles, you have to think that I am by your side."

I write this now because we are so often detached from and ignorant of the people the state kills in our name.

We think of them as soulless monsters, as "human trash" that needs to be thrown out.

We think of them as statistics in the Singapore Prison Service's annual reports.

Very often, we don't think of them at all. (It is likely that another man was executed this morning, but we don't even know his name).

But we need to see death row inmates for who they are: people who have made mistakes, people who have made bad decisions, people who might have been cruel, but also people who have families, who have struggles, who are full of contradictions like us.

They laugh, cry, joke, dream, hate and fear like any other person.

But unlike any other person, they will one day know, down to the minute, when they will die. And all they can do is wait.

Yesterday in court Jabing gave us activists a big wave. Then he bowed and smiled.

He was executed today, hours after the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal for a stay of execution.
I'm sharing the photos his family has shared with me.

The government says it kills people like Jabing to keep us safe.

I don't know how Jabing's death has kept me safe; it's simply made me feel more hurt, more outraged and more fearful of a cold state machinery that knows no compassion, that would rush a man to his death out of procedural efficiency.

But if Jabing died in all our names, the least we could do is see these photos and know his face.
#RIP Kho Jabing. 1984 - 2016.

KIRSTEN HAN is a freelance journalist in Singapore and is a founding member of 'We Believe in Second Chances', a group campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty.

Malaysian hanged in Singapore after final appeal rejected
Execution carried out, say police, after court denies appeal by Kho Jabing, sentenced to death in 2010 for murder
Defence lawyers for Kho Jabing leave the  supreme court in Singapore after his appeal was rejected
Defence lawyers for Kho Jabing leave the supreme court in Singapore after his appeal was rejected. Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

A Malaysian murder convict has been hanged in Singapore, according to police, hours after the city-state’s highest court rejected a final appeal against his execution.

“A 32-year-old male Malaysian national, Jabing Kho, had his death sentence carried out on 20 May 2016 at Changi prison complex,” the Singapore police force said in a statement on Friday.

Kho, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for the murder of a Chinese construction worker, had been due to hang in the prison at dawn on Friday, but was granted a brief last-minute reprieve after his lawyer filed a challenge.

The court of appeal heard the latest plea on Friday morning but said it raised no new arguments about the 2008 robbery attempt, clearing the way for the execution.

“This case has been about many things but today, it’s about the abuse of the process of the court,” said the appeal court judge, Chao Hick Tin. Allowing Kho to continue with legal challenges would throw the judicial system into disrepute, he added.

Executions in Singapore are normally carried out by hanging at dawn on Fridays.

After Kho was sentenced to death in 2010, Singapore amended its mandatory death penalty for murder, giving judges the discretion to impose life imprisonment under certain circumstances.

Kho’s case was reviewed and he was re-sentenced to a life term in 2013. But state prosecutors appealed against that ruling and his death sentence was reinstated in January 2015. He was scheduled for execution on 6 November last year but another last-minute appeal saved him.

Kho’s accomplice had his conviction for murder overturned and was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison and 19 strokes of the cane.

Singapore, which has rejected rights groups’ calls to abolish the death penalty, executed four people in 2015, one for murder and three for drug offences, according to prison statistics.

Malaysia also uses capital punishment, executing murderers and drug traffickers by hanging, a system that, as in Singapore, dates back to British colonial rule. - Guardian, 20/5/2016