Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bar Council: Abolish ISA, free all detainees - Star


The Malaysian Bar has unanimously passed a resolution calling for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees, including Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin and the “Hindraf Five.”

Its president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the Malaysian Bar also strongly condemned the issuance of the three show-cause letters to Sin Chew Daily, theSun and Suara Keadilan and said they should be immediately withdrawn.

The resolution would be handed to the Prime Minister on Monday, she told reporters on Saturday after a closed-door extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

The six-point resolution was passed at the EGM that was attended by more than 730 members. It was also supported by four past presidents.

Ambiga said the Malaysian Bar also strongly condemned the Sept 12 arrests of Raja Petra, Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.

Tan was released after 18 hours and Kok after seven days in detention.

“Raja Petra and the other detainees should be released. They should be charged in court if they (are suspected of being) guilty of any offence.

“We unanimously and strongly call on the Government to immediately repeal the ISA and all other laws that allow for the detention of persons without trial, such as the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985,” she said.

The Government, the resolution stated, should uphold its pledges to the United Nations Human Rights Council to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote a free media, including in cyberspace, and to uphold the rule of law.

At the EGM, Kok, S. Pushpa, the wife of detained Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) lawyer M. Manoharan and a woman known as Laila whose husband had been detained for more than six years under ISA, shared their experiences with those present.

“We are happy that Kok has been released but she should not have been detained in the first place.

“We are deeply troubled by what they shared and by the abuse of ISA which can be termed as a state of terrorism. Family lives have been destroyed and children are affected,” Ambiga added.

Former president Sulaiman Abdullah was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying that the Government should take into consideration the challenges and trauma faced by family members of these detainees.

Some of their loved ones had been away for more than six years, he said.

“It’s about time the Government repeals ISA since it can be abused against those opposing the Government,” he said, according to Bernama.

Another ex-president, Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, said this was not the first time that the Malaysian Bar called for the ISA to be repealed and added the law was no longer relevant to contemporary society.

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