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Zunar’s arrest is abuse of power, harassment, say activists

 | December 17, 2016

While the controversial cartoonist is still being held in Dang Wangi police station, questions fly over motives for his detention.

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PETALING JAYA: A key leader of Bersih 2.0 has labelled controversial cartoonist Zunar’s arrest today as a blatant abuse of power while a top lawyer called it police harassment.

At this moment, Zunar is still in Dang Wangi police station, with four others also arrested this afternoon at his talk, “Tea with Zunar”. They were arrested at the fundraising event at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at about 3pm.

Zunar, whose real name is Zulkilflee Anwar Ulhaque, and event organiser Lawrence Jeyaraj are being investigated under Section 124(c) for activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

“There is no basis to arrest Zunar because it is just a fundraising event. This is total abuse of power,” said Bersih 2.0 Secretariat Manager Mandeep Singh when contacted by FMT.

Mandeep questioned the rationale of arresting Zunar under Section 124(c), pointing out that it amounts to intimidation by the police.

“How can a cartoon be classified under Section 124(c)? This is the biggest joke of the day. It’s worrying because they can conduct a raid without a warrant. To me, it’s total intimidation,” he said.

Last month, Bersih 2.0 was also raided under Section 124(c), which then saw the arrest of its Chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, an Act which normally deals with terrorism-linked offences.

Lawyers for Liberty Executive Director Eric Paulsen also echoed similar sentiments, labelling Zunar’s recent police arrest as absolutely outrageous.

“The police have been harassing Zunar non-stop. He was arrested numerous times and he has nine sedition charges,” he told FMT when contacted.

Eric said that drawing satirical cartoons shouldn’t be considered a felony and reminded the police to investigate “real” crimes instead.

“The police might not be comfortable but this is a democratic country. Authorities must learn how to live with it. They must accept that everyone has a voice,” Paulsen said.

Zunar’s arrest came barely a month after he was detained in Penang last month for a breach of peace under the Penal Code and the Sedition Act.


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