Aliran is deeply concerned over the health of at least 10 ISA detainees in the Kamunting Detention Camp who have reportedly been on hunger strike for almost a week now.
Their hunger strike is a protest against their indefinite detention without trial under the Internal Security Act, which is about to be repealed and replaced by the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill, now before the Senate.
We urge the Home Ministry to appoint a physician to be involved in the management of the detainees during their fast, in accordance with the principles of the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers. In this way, the detainees’ families can be assured of their health and welfare. The physician can also intervene medically, if and when appropriate, while respecting the detainees’ autonomy and right to carry out this form of non-violent protest.
We trust that the Home Ministry will respect international human rights law and not resort to forced feeding as a means of ending the detainees’ protest. The Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers states that forced feeding by any means is never ethically acceptable. “Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Equally unacceptable is the forced feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting.”
Aliran also calls on the authorities to allow the families immediate access to the detainees.
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We reiterate that all ISA detainees should be charged in open court or released immediately. Moreover, the ISA is about to be repealed. Although Prime Minister Najib Razak had said that the repeal would have no effect on current detainees, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein later said he he would decide on a case-by-case basis whether the detainees should be charged in court or released.
Hishammuddin must do this immediately as their continued detention shamefully violates a fundamental provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 9: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”
Aliran executive committee
17 May 2012