The arrest of Maria Chin Abdullah is a clear act of “intimidation” meant to cow the community of human rights advocates, say Bersih organisers.
“Sosma is still very new to the people. We want the people to know that the use of Sosma in this case is a clear act of intimidation, especially of all the member NGOs who have been fighting for civil liberties and human rights,” said Sarawak Bersih volunteer lawyer Murnie Hidayah Anuar.
“All we know at the moment is that Maria is detained for 28 days and this can be extended.
“This is a clear abuse of power and starting yesterday, we are holding an urgent campaign for her release.
“We are holding a nightly vigil until Maria is released,” said Murnie, who is a member of land rights NGO, Lawyer Kamek For Change
“It’s very alarming and frustrating that Sosma has been used against Maria in this case.”
Sarawak Bersih held a vigil at Padang Merdeka this evening, joining a nationwide campaign to secure Maria’s release.
About 30 representatives of local NGOs, DAP and PKR showed up.
Sarawak Bersih vice-chairperson Ann Teo said Maria should not be held under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), which was meant for terrorists.
“We would like to emphasise that until today, and despite the many suits filed against Bersih, we are held up by the courts as a lawful organisation and that the assemblies held were lawful,” Teo told reporters.
“The arrest and detention of Maria is absurd and utterly uncalled for. We call for her immediate release and demand that the government uphold and respect the right to dissent under the Federal Constitution.”
Teo said Maria’s arrest contravenes Section 4(3) of Sosma, which specifically bars arrests and detention of individuals purely for their political beliefs or activities.
The use of Sosma has been very different from what the rakyat expected, she said.
“We are concerned about the tightening of democratic spaces, which has encroached on the right to dissent. We must stand by these rights as long as we don’t breach any laws.
“This use of Sosma against Maria is to curb that right to express political belief.”
Maria was arrested on Friday under Section 124C of the Penal Code for attempting to commit an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy. If found guilty, she can be jailed for up to 15 years.
Her arrest was read together with Sosma 2012 that allows detention without trial for 28 days.
Maria is being kept in solitary confinement in a windowless room, measuring 15 feet by 8 feet, according to legal representatives.
Yesterday, Bersih filed a habeas corpus application. Maria’s family members lodged a report today alleging the use of torture against Maria.
Source : Richard T.W.@FMT Reporters Online