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Komas activist in court over Sri Lankan film

 | September 18, 2013

The human rights NGO alleges that this is a direct violation of freedom of speech, assembly and association, which is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

PETALING JAYA: Human rights NGO Pusat Komas today slammed Putrajaya for “the utmost form of harassment,” for charging its activist for screening the controversial documentary “No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” on July 3.

Its director Tan Jo Hann today said its programme director Lena Hendry – one of the three arrested during the screening of the film – was asked to be in the KL Magistrate’s Court tomorrow (Sept 19) to face charges.

“This is the Malaysian authorities’ utmost form of harassment and direct violation of freedom of speech, assembly and association, which is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” Tan said in a statement.

“It is sad that Malaysia being part of the Human Rights Council should, in fact, be defenders instead of persecutors of human rights activists,” he added.

Tan urged the Home Ministry (KDN) and Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) to “come to their senses and immediately drop the charges and cease all investigations into the screening of the film.”

“There is definitely no cause to prolong this intimidation and harassment with strong arm tactics of the law and abusing government agencies against human rights defenders,” he said.

He claimed that, “No Fire Zone” was a credible and highly regarded documentary, which highlighted the atrocities committed by the government and military against its citizens.

“It did seem that the Sri Lankan government told the Malaysian authorities to stop the screening on July 3. Also, Sri Lanka embassy representatives went to the venue to try stop the screening,” he said.

“Ironically, the Malaysia authorities seemed to be sending the message that they are “closing one eye” and sometimes both eyes to films that actually incite racism and discrimination,” he said, adding that “the government often endorsed and even funded these productions, which were also allowed to be screened in public cinemas nationwide.”

Home Ministry, police and Immigration Department personnel raided the venue on July 3, leading to the arrest of Lena, Komas executive director Arul Prakash and director Anna Har.

The trio were released on bail and slated to appear at the Magistrates’ court on Aug 6. However, Arul received a call from KDN officer Akilah Bakri on Aug 5 informing them that charges had not been filed against them thus, were not required to appear at the court the next day.

Akilah also informed the trio that KDN would be contacting them after the Hari Raya holiday.

Today, KDN issued a notice informing Komas that Lena would be charged at the Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

Tan had previously described the initial arrest of the trio during the film screening as “unnecessary and nonsensical.”

“Now, to ridiculously proceed with this travesty of justice by charging Lena in court is proof that the KDN and Attorney-General’s Chambers are bullies with total disregard of universal human rights principles and worse of all, the Malaysian Constitution.”


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