ISA detainees demand release, say would die from hunger strike
UPDATED @ 05:57:10 PM 25-05-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — A group of prisoners still held under the now-repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) are threatening to go on a hunger strike if Putrajaya does not release them within a week or charge them in court.
Two detainees — Mustawan Ahbad and Anthony Sackarayas Natkunam, both foreigners — even said today they were prepared to die from the strike and will refuse to eat until the Malaysian government accedes to their demands.
“I am prepared to die to fight for my freedom,” the Indonesian youth Mustawan said, according to lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri today.
Fadiah, along with several other representatives from Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), had met with nine ISA detainees this morning at the detention camp in Kamunting, Perak.
Of the nine, seven are Malaysians. Mustawan and a Sri Lankan named Anthony made up the remainder.
“We wanted to know their present condition in detention after their previous hunger strike and Suhakam’s visit.
“They are now giving the government another week to respond to their demands. If the government fails to release them or charge them in court, they will resume the strike on June 4,” she told The Malaysian Insider after this morning’s visit.
Fadiah added that there are presently 45 ISA detainees in the camp, including 25 locals and 20 foreigners.
Among them are 11 Sabahans who were arrested just two months after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced his government’s plan to repeal the ISA, which was enacted in 1960 to fight the communist insurgency.
The 11 include two teachers, said Fadiah, one of whom has taught military personnel.
She said the 11 were previously brought to the Bukit Aman police headquarters where they were allegedly tortured and forced to confess.
“They were forced to sign statements, which they could not even read because they were covered by other papers,” she said.
Fadiah said that between 10 and 12 detainees are now expected to participate in the coming hunger strike this June 4, as many were now aware that news of their actions has been spread outside the walls of their detention camp.
According to the lawyer, only one Malaysian detainee had participated in the previous strike.
“We explained to them the reactions from Malaysian citizens, the government and Suhakam so now they believe that perhaps this would work and more Malaysian detainees have decided to take part,” she said.
The ISA was repealed during the April Parliament sitting when a new security law, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 was tabled and approved by the lower House as its substitute. The Bill, however, is yet to be gazetted.
But according to Section 32 of the Bill, the ISA repeal would not affect those still detained under the Act, unless the home minister decides to revoke the orders.