Aliran strongly condemns the detention of Malaysia Today’s Raja Petra Kamaruddin under the draconian Internal Security Act and the issuance of show-cause letters to Suara Keadilan, theSun and Sin Chew Jit Poh today as something totally unjustified and unwarranted.
The government’s atrocious action against RPK and the three newspapers is completely undemocratic and violates universal press freedom, which is the bedrock of democracy.
RPK’s detention is unjust as it denies him his democratic right to defend himself. He should have been charged in open court in relation to the earlier charges made against him under the Sedition Act. By resorting to the ISA, his innocence can no longer be proven. This is indeed undemocratic, unjust and un-Islamic.
That is why we, other civil society groups and concerned Malaysians have opposed the use of undemocratic and unjust laws such as the ISA and the Sedition Act. Even individuals who express and do things that may cause anxiety and pain among the people and possibly inflame ethnic and religious sentiments should be accorded their right to natural justice and be allowed to defend themselves in an open court. They deserve this in any democratic society.
Moreover, the government’s drastic action makes us wonder whether this is a politically motivated prelude to a 1987-type of political clampdown, which involved mass detentions of innocent individuals most of whom were not even remotely involved in creating the supposed ethnic tension at that time.
The government’s latest moves reinforce the suspicion that these are desperate measures taken to undermine what is seen as the unstoppable Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat mounting a real challenge to the Barisan Nasional..
Whatever the case may be, we urge the government to release Raja Petra unconditionally and also retract the show cause letters issued to the three brave newspapers so that democracy can flourish and justice be served.
Aliran Executive Committee
12 September 2008