Thursday, November 24, 2016

52 Korean Groups - Stop Oppressing BERSIH, Immediately Release Maria, Abolish SOSMA

Malaysia: Stop Oppressing Bersih
Immediately Release Maria Chin Abdullah, Chair of Bersih
Abolish SOSMA, which violates the exercise of fundamental human rights

(24 November 2016, Seoul) On 18 November 2016, Malaysian authorities raided the office of Bersih, a civil society organizing campaigns for clean free and fair elections, and arrested its chair Maria Chin Abdullah and secretariat manager Mandeep Singh. Before and after the 19 November Bersih 5 protest, 16 Bersih organisers and supporters were arrested. Among those arrested, Maria Chin Abdullah is still being detained up to date since 18 November while others were released. 
52 South Korean civil society organisations strongly urge the government of Malaysia to immediately drop all charges against Bersih members and supporters and to ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and associations and freedom of expression. Most urgently, we call upon the immediate release of Maria Chin Abdullah arrested under the alleged violation of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA). Detaining Maria Chin Abdullah is an arbitrary detention and a cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment which is a serious violation of fundamental human rights.

SOSMA that Maria Chin Abdullah is charged under was enacted in replacement of Internal Security Act in 2012. According to this act, in the case of “for the purpose of maintaining public order and security and for connected matters,” the authorities may undertake incommunicado detention for up to 48 hours and detain in undisclosed location without trials. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years of imprisonment. Her lawyer reported that she is being detained in a windowless cell with no bed and with two light bulbs kept on for 24 hours a day. Malaysian authorities must immediately release Maria Chin Abdullah and abolish SOSMA that may seriously violate human rights.

Bersih (which means “clean” in Malay) has continued to organize peaceful assemblies calling for clean and fair elections since 2010. During the Bersih 5 assembly held on 19 November 2016, thousands of people dressed in yellow shirts to represent Bersih movement called for Prime Minister, Najib Razak’s resignation who has been criticized for alleged corruption. However, the authorities are repressing and cracking down Bersih protesters by referring to them as “illegal” and 16 Bersih activists and supporters were arrested before and after the assembly. Now everyone except Maria Chin Abdullah, was released but they may face charges for violating its Penal Code Section 124 (c), 147, 153, and 511 and the Sedition Act. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, also expressed concern related to the issue that they are a “pre-emptive restriction assembly rights.”

The right to peaceful assembly and associations is a fundamental human right as ensured in the Constitution of Malaysia and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). If the government is to truly respect its Constitution and international human rights laws, the Malaysian authorities must immediately drop all charges against the Bersih organizers and supporters and release Maria Chin Abdullah who has been detained in inhumane condition. The government cannot restrict the people’s will to fight for their legitimate and fundamental rights, no matter how strong the control, inspection and repression may be. We express our deepest and strong solidarity to Bersih activists and supporters who are fighting for democracy and human rights in Malaysia.

For further information, please contact Ms. Gayoon Baek (People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy) at, +82 (0)2 723 5051

The statement is endorsed by below 52 South Korean NGOs:
1. Asian Dignity Initiative
2. Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation
3. Immigrants Advocacy Center Gamdong
4. Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
5. Korean Lawyers for Public Interests and Human Rights
6. MTU-Migrant Trade Union
7. People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
8. PINKS : Solidarity for Sexually Minor Cultures & Human Rights
9. ‘SARAM’ Center for Human Rights
10. Solidarity for Asian Human Rights and Culture
Korean Networks of Human Rights Groups
11. Action for Youth Rights(ASUNARO) 
12. Buddhism Human Rights Committee 
13. Catholic Human Rights Committee
14. Cheongju Labor Human Rights Center
15. Cultural Action 
16. DASAN Human Rights Center
17. Democratic Legal Studies Association
18. Disability and Human Rights in Action
19. Disabled People’s International Korea
20. Geochang Peace and Human Rights Art Festival Commission
21. Gwang-Ju Human Rights Center 'Hwal JJak'
22. Human Rights Education Center 'Deul' 
23. Human Rights Solidarity for New Society
24. Joint Committee with Migrants in Korea
25. Korea HIV/AIDS Network of Solidarity KANOS 
26. Korean Coalition for Abolishment of Insecurity Employment
27. Korean Contingent Workers' Center
28. Korean Council for Democratic Martyr
29. Korean Gay Men's Human Rights Group 'Chingusai'
30. Korean House for International Solidarity 
31. Korean Progressive Network 'Jinbonet'
32. Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center
33. Labor Attorneys for Labor Rights
34. Migrants Human Rights Solidarity
35. MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
36. Minkahyup Human Rights Group
37. Network of Accessible Environment for All
38. People's Solidarity for Social Progress
39. Protesting Against Poverty & Discrimination Solidarity for Human Rights
40. Samsung Labor Watch
41. SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights
42. Seoul Human Rights Film Festival 
43. Solidarity against Disability Discrimination
44. Solidarity for HIV/AIDS Human Rights Nanuri+
45. Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea
46. Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights
47. The Committee to Support Imprisoned Workers
48. The National Council of Churches in Korea Human Rights Center
49. The Research Institute of the Differently Abled People Rights in Korea 
50. Ulsan Solidarity for Human Rights 
51. Won Buddhism Human Rights Committee
52. World Without War

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