“#BebasMaria is now #MariaBebas!” screamed the tweets, as Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah was freed today in a most unexpected fashion.
After 10 days of being held under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), her release came one day before her habeas corpus hearing.
Her family or lawyers had no knowledge of where she was being held – only that she was in solitary detention.
The habeas corpus would determine if she is to be produced in court to certify her well being and right to be detained.
The public has expected Maria to be detained for 28 days as allowed under Sosma, before being charged.
Former Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasen, who was also acting as the lawyer for Maria, was the first to tweet her selfie with a smiling Maria, to announce that the mother of three is now free.
Maria was held one night before Bersih 5, along with other Bersih organisers, in what the organisers claim was an attempt to thwart the rally.
However, more than 50,000 people attended the rally in Kuala Lumpur city centre, in a protest for clean elections and a clean government.
Many protested against Maria’s detention. Opposition MPs marched to the police headquarters while hundreds of women marched to Parliament demanding Maria’s release.
Nightly candle-light vigils attended by hundreds of people at Dataran Merdeka were held despite the police warnings that they were illegal assemblies.
Even a few Barisan Nasional MPs stated that Maria’s detention was unwarranted.
The authorities have claimed that Maria had terrorist connections and was being investigated for having received foreign funding to run down the government, but all these claims were pooh-poohed by Maria’s supporters, who condemned the way Maria was held in solitary detention without being charged.
One tweet stated that the police may have probably released Maria one day before the habeas corpus for fear that she may have been released by the court tomorrow, which may not look too good on the police force.
Her release also comes at the heels of the police’s raid on women NGO Empower, of which Maria is also part of, under Sosma.
Facebook posts, tweets and instagrams, in their celebration for Maria’s release, however, pointed out that Maria is free now but the draconian law of Sosma which allows detention of suspected persons without being charged in court is still very much in our face.
Source : Zakiah Koya@The Heat Malaysia Online