20th September 2000


Second anniversary of Anwar Ibrahim’s imprisonment in Malaysia

20th September is the second anniversary for the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim the deposed Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister in Mahathir’s government. He was arrested under the ISA (Internal Security Act), which is famous as being a tool used by the government to curb and silence the opposition in Malaysia.

On 29th September 1998 Ibrahim was brought to court where he appeared in public showing visible signs of beatings on his face. Later a Royal Commission of Enquiry heard the confession of the former chief of police in punching and slapping Anwar Ibrahim while he was blindfolded and handcuffed. Anwar Ibrahim’s dismissal sparked mass demonstrations calling for wide-ranging political and social reform and for the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

University students and Ibrahim’s followers clashed with the police on a regular basis during the first few weeks of his detention and imprisonment. Police in riot gear took action in beating the protesters and passers-by that were curious. In one incident police with long rattan sticks beat up an elderly lady who was selling cakes for tea. An elderly man who was around at the time tried to help the lady but was beaten as well. In addition to the beatings police made random arrests, which included innocent passers-by and put them in crowded jail cells in and around the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Police brutality was evident when the accused were all brought to court. Allegations include being kicked, punched and beaten with sticks while they were under detention in police stations.

On 14 April 1999 Anwar Ibrahim was found guilty of four charges of corrupt practice. He was sentenced to six years jail on each of the charges, and a further nine years for his conviction of sodomy in August 2000. Former Chief Justice Tun Salleh Abbas, sacked from his post in the late 1980s for criticising Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir, famously ‘cried out’ Mayday for Justice. Over a decade later, little has changed.

The chairman of Islamic Human Rights Commission Massoud Shadjareh in a statement said:

“IHRC is very concerned regarding his imprisonment from 1998. There is a consensus both within Malaysia and the international community that this shows the trial and the convictions were based on politics rather than justice.”

IHRC calls all the relevant authorities in Malaysia to adhere to international human rights standards.

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