Islamic Human Rights Commission
9 July 2008
Update Alert: Malaysia – Mat Sah's Detention under the ISA continues
3. Action Required
4. Sample Letters
Mat Sah's renewed two-year detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) ended in June 2008, however he continues to be detained. According to reports, Mat Sah and other ISA detainees were made to attend a counselling programmer earlier this year, organized by the Malaysian Home Ministry, in which they were encouraged to admit to the allegations of terrorism against them for a speedy release from prison.
On 12 June 2008 Mat Sah bin Mohammed Satray completed his six years of incarceration in the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak. He was arrested on 17 April 2002 under the Internal Security Act (ISA), under which, a person can be held for up to 60 days without a warrant or recourse to trial or access to legal counsel, merely on the basis of suspicion. After the 60 day period ends, the detainee's case is referred to the Home Secretary who can extend the detention period for two more years which is then renewable indefinitely.
Mat Sah has been accused of of being a member of a militant group, Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI).; however the Malaysian authorities have no evidence to substantiate the charges against him. His case is representative of the plight of many other innocent Malaysians who have been detained under the ISA. Many have been physically abused during the course of their detention.
Mat Sah's prison conditions have not improved since IHRC's last alert about his case. He is still held in solitary confinement, in a small cell with no windows, no fan, no light and no television.
According to reports, earlier this year, Mat Sah was sent to a Police Remand Centre in Kuala Lumpur, where he and fellow detainees undertook a special programme set-up by the Malaysian Home Minister, specifically for all ISA detainees. The programme included lectures by speakers from the Islamic Department of Malaysia, as well as by ex-ISA detainees acting as spokespeople for the Home Ministry. Mat Sah described this programme as a 'counselling and brainwashing program' specifically arranged for all ISA detainees as in the course of the lectures, the detainees were '…advised and coaxed to admit that they are the real Islamic Militants of Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI)…' in accordance with the allegations of the authorities against them. The detainees were promised that if they 'agreed to accept' the allegations against them, they would be released in a few weeks time.
However, Mat Sah has no hope of his freedom, even though his renewed detention ended in June 2008, as he was reportedly informed that chances of his release are unlikely.
On a positive note, the Abolish ISA Movement, better known in Malaysia as Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI), a coalition of many organizations, is tirelessly working towards the abolishment of ISA and release of all ISA detainees on the premise that no one should be detained without trial. GMI members have been actively campaigning for Mat Sah's release, distributing IHRC's campaign packs at events etc. and encouraging people to write letters to relevant authorities in protest against the unfair detention. Further, they are organizing vigils and meetings with members of the opposition parties in Malaysia for support against ISA. Continuous pressure from campaigners has made a significant difference in highlighting Mat Sah's predicament and international bodies are taking steps to address this issue.
Hence IHRC encourages campaigners to continue writing letters to the authorities below and supporting this cause.
For a detailed account of Mat Sah's story please download the campaign pack at: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2839
3. Action Required
1. Write to the Malaysian Ambassador in your country and urge him to work for the immediate release of Mat Sah.
UK campaigners can write to:
HE Dato\' Abed Aziz bin Mohammed
Malaysian High Commission
45 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QT
2. Write to Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi and urge him to immediately release all ISA detainees or offer them fair trials.
Mr Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Ketua Setiausaha Sulit Kepada Perdana Menteri,
Pejabat Perdana Menteri,
Blok Utama, Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
Fax: +60 3 8888 3444
3. Write to Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security and urge him to work for immediate release of Mat Sah.
Y.B. Dato\' Seri Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security
Kementerian Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri, Malaysia
Blok D2, Parcel D
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan
Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 / 8889 1610
4. Sample Letter
Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.
Dear [Recipient's Name]
Re: Appeal for the immediate release of ISA detainee Mat Sah Satray
I am writing to urge you to immediately release Mat Sah bin Mohammad Satray who has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since 17 April 2002.
Mat Sah is being currently held at the Kamunting Detention Centre in the state of Perak. He and several other ISA detainees have been accused of being members of Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI) and of participating in subversive activities against the government. Mat Sah and his detainees have repeatedly denied these allegations and no evidence has been produced to substantiate the allegations. All of Mat Sah's legal appeals have been rejected.
His renewed two-year detention under the ISA came to an end in June 2008; however, he continues to be incarcerated. According to reports, he has been informed that his release is unlikely. Hence, he can be held without charge indefinitely without ever being given his day in court.
Mat Sah and all the other ISA detainees must be given recourse to a fair trial in conformity with international standards of due process and access to full legal representation and family members. If no evidence is found against a detainee, he/she should be released without delay, as holding them indefinitely merely on the basis of suspicion is a blatant violation of due process.
I am also quite concerned about the fact that the ISA detainees have been physically abused and harassed in the past and are being forced to live in small cells and under strict regimes. Mat Sah is being held in solitary confinement with no windows, fan or lights. I ask that you ensure that Mat Sah and the rest of the ISA detainees are treated according to the international human rights standards. Human rights organizations and NGOs should be given immediate and full access to the Kamunting Detention Centre.
Most importantly, I strongly urge you to abolish the ISA under which many such innocent people have been held in the past and are still being currently detained without charge, or legal representation, merely on the basis of suspicion.
I look forward to hearing from you soon on this matter,
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
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