The Internal Security Act (ISA) has been there for 48 years in Malaysia. For most of the ISA detainees who have been detained without trial in Kamunting, this Hari Raya celebration would be their sixth or seventh Syawal in detention for indefinite period of time with no right to an open trial, no right to defend themselves and no knowledge of their release date.
It is no different for the family members. They spend Ramadan and Hari Raya for the sixth or seventh time isolated from their husbands, fathers or sons. Having lost their breadwinner and to some, shunned by their communities, many are still struggling to cope with reasonable living standards, without proper welfare assistance. In addition, the families have to incur expenses such as toll and petrol for the trip to Kamunting Detention Camp (Kemta) to visit their loved ones. For some families, this is a short 45-minute period communicating through intercom behind a glass transparent screen whilst the trip from Kuala Lumpur takes up about 420 minutes for a two-way trip.
The cruelty and tyranny will still persist as long as the ISA exists. To be detained without trial even for 18 hours (as in the case of Sin Chew Daily reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng) or seven days (as in the case of Teresa Kok) is a gross violation of basic human rights and natural justice – what more if a detainee has to languishes in Kemta for two years (as in the case of Raja Petra Kamaruddin and the Hindraf Five) or worse still, be incarcerated for up to seven years as in the case of five Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) suspects (Yazid Sufaat, Suhaimi Mokhtar, Abdullah Daud, Mat Sah Mohd Satray and Shamsuddin Sulaiman).
What about others whose names we are not familiar with such as Zaini Zakaria, Francis Indanan, Mohd Khider Kadran, Lai Kin Choy, Kasem Dayama, Mavalavan s/o Muthuramalingam and Idris Lanama, to name a few? Will their rights be defended? How much longer must they suffer? These are among 66 detainees who have been detained without trial or proof on the mere suspicion of being a threat to national security.
GMI believes that no one regardless of nationality, religion, race, political ideology shall be subjected to the rule of the jungle which is what the ISA is today! The arbitrary nature of the ISA can be clearly seen with the latest episode of detentions and releases. They must be put to trial or be released immediately without conditions. The principles of justice should be applied to ensure rights and personal liberties are protected at all times.
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GMI finds it most unfortunate that the Government and the police continue to exert its powers blindly under the guise of ISA despite being in the blessed month of Ramadan, a month where mercifulness, generosity and forgiveness are supposed to be in abundance. Incarcerating the detainees without affording them due process is the height of injustice; and to do it during Ramadan is both cruel and vindictive. It is also an affront to our religious sensibility; the very act desecrates our holy month.
Malaysia is one of the few countries in which the government can, through legal means persecute its political opponents and silence dissent based on mere unproven suspicion and still get away with it. The former notorious apartheid government of South Africa had already abolished a law similar to the ISA long time ago. On the contrary, in Malaysia there is no sign yet of its curtailment or disappearance. In fact, there is concern that the ISA is increasingly misused and abused.
Today, the people of Malaysia once again stand at a new historical turning point. There is a new awakening as more voices can be heard expressing their abhorrence of the ISA. We must stand together and persistently demand from now on the release of all ISA detainees and the repeal of the ISA. Justice will triumph and we will see the final days of the ISA.
GMI therefore demands and calls on the government to:
Release all ISA detainees without any condition or charge them in court.
Abolish the ISA Now!
GMI also wishes to call on all levels of society in this blessed month of Ramadan and on the eve of the Hari Raya celebrations to continue to support the anti-ISA campaigns and the struggle for the freedom of all ISA detainees until the ISA is repealed.
Release All ISA Detainees!
Close Down KEMTA!
Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh,