Shamsul Iskandar Mohd. Akin

Suara Anak Muda

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Release ISA detainees in the spirit of Ramadan

Bede Hong


Human rights groups and opposition parties have called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan.

The call was made during a noisy but peaceful protest at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur today. Led by the Abolish ISA Movement (AIM), Abdullah was asked to ‘practice what he preached’ in reference to his government’s adoption of Islam Hadhari.

Some 100 people, including the families of ISA detainees, chanted anti-ISA slogans and carried banners.

“The significance of the month of Ramadan is that you forgive. You repent for your wrongdoings. In this month, we want the government to act in accordance with the spirit of Islam Hadhari,” Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth vice-chief Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin said.

“God opens up all avenues to repent and to ask for forgiveness. It’s in this spirit that we should take the opportunity to release the detainees and take some steps towards abolishing (the ISA),” he added.

The sit-in protest, held amid the choking haze and under the watchful eyes of some 20 policemen, also saw PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub and PSM pro-tem president Dr Nasir Hashim president address the crowd for about 10 minutes each.

Comparisons were made between the Kamunting detention camp with the US-run Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Shut down Kamunting

A declaration was later read out by AIM chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh urging the government to abolish the ISA and shut down Kamunting.

The group also urged the government to create a royal commission to investigate allegations of torture on detainees.

Kamunting, which is located near Taiping, currently holds 97 detainees: 60 alleged members of the al-Qaeda-linked regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), six alleged members of the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM), 11 alleged members of foreign-based al-Qaeda-linked group Darul Islam, One Sri Lankan national for his alleged role in the international nuclear black market while the remaining inmates were detained for alleged involvement in counterfeiting and forgery of documents.

Originally created by the British colonial government to curb communist rebels, over 4,000 people have been detained under the ISA since 1960.

Meanwhile, PKR’s Shamsul claimed that the prime minister had allegedly promised to release the detainees when he met their families recently.

“We make it very clear that we want the prime minister to honour his word,” he said.

Also voicing his discontent was student group Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) president Ahmad Tarmizi Mohd Din.

“We see the effects (of the dention) on their families. The wives of these detainees want to see their husbands by their side to celebrate Hari Raya,” he said.

For years, human rights groups and foreign governments have cried foul over the usage of the ISA which allows for detention without trial.

Authorities however have described the ISA as an essential tool in keeping the peace and preventing terrorism.


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