Release Guantanamo Detainees; What about ISA Detainees?Posted: November 19, 2008
PRESS STATEMENT: 19 NOVEMBER 2008
Release Guantanamo Detainees; What about ISA detainees?
The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)/ Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) is annoyed by the statement from Foreign Minister Rais Yatim, “The government is hopeful that two of its citizens being held at the Guantanamo Bay camp will be released and sent home after Barack Obama is sworn in as US president”, (Malaysiakini 18 November 2008).
He also added that “No charges have been brought against them (Mohamad Farik Amin and Mohammed Nazir Lep), and this is worse than the ISA (Internal Security Act) “. What about ISA? Until today there is not even a single ISA detainee that has been charged. And the question is what did the Minister meant by “it is worse than ISA?” Does this shows that the Minister agreed that ISA is a law which denies trial and it is a draconian law?
We wish to call upon the Minister to stop practicing double standards. We wish to point out to the Minister and the government that the ISA and the Kamunting detention camp in Malaysia is no better than Guantanamo Bay camp. Many are detained arbitrarily and without trial under the ISA for so many years. Calling for fair trial and release of the two Guantanamo detainees, while on the other hand denying the rights to trial of hundreds in our own country only exposes the government’s hypocrisy.
Currently there are five alleged JI (Jemaah Islamiyyah) detainees who have been held under the ISA for seven years. They are Yazid bin Sufaat, Suhaimi bin Mokhtar, Abdullah bin Daud, Mat Sah bin Mohd Satray and Shamsuddin bin Sulaiman. Many more are being held there for more than 2 to 6 years. Just like those held in Guantanamo Bay, the Kamunting detainees have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, with the conditions of their detention kept well away from the eyes of the public.
Practicing arbitrary arrest and detention without trial by hanging on to an anachronistic law which was formulated to serve a real situation of emergency many decades ago only disgraces Malaysia in the eyes of the world. Setting up a special camp (Kamunting) with the aim, among others of concealing the conditions of their detention from the public eye and systematically inflicting torture on the detainees, serve to further damage the country’s reputation and confirms the belief that such laws inevitably lead to abuse.
We therefore call upon the government to apply the same principles to the ISA detainees and Kamunting camp, charge them or otherwise free them. Failure to do so will lead the people to conclude that the government is practicing double standards. On what ground can the Malaysian government demand for fair trial if it can’t put things right in its own country?