PETALING JAYA: M Kula Segaran of the DAP says the conviction of activist Lena Hendry does not make sense especially at a time when information is easily accessible.
Hendry, the programme manager for Pusat Komas was found guilty by the Magistrate’s Court earlier this week for screening a documentary on the atrocities committed during the Sri Lankan civil war, without the approval of the Censorship Board.
In a statement today, the DAP’s national vice-chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat said, “The conviction of Lena Hendry does not make sense in a world of information where atrocities in any part of the world can be instantly accessed through various media outlets or mobile phone.”
He added, “Citizens around the world have access to all kinds of media that would make censorship of reality and truth, foolish and incomprehensible.
“The pertinent fact is, Hendry does not own the documentary. Therefore the charges do not hold under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act, unless the Government is going act against all citizens who have documentaries that show atrocities around the world, in their mobile phones, that can be easily disseminated.
Hendry was accused of screening the documentary titled “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” which had not been vetted or approved by the Censorship Board, at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall on July 3, 2013.
Section 6 of the Act makes it an offence to, amongst others, produce, manufacture, have in one’s possession, circulate, distribute and display such film or film-publicity material which has not been approved by the Board.
Kula said the documentary was screened only to “selective audiences”, and as such the government should respect the rights of its citizens to be in “solidarity with oppressed communities”.
“I believe Lena Hendry would not have been charged by an archaic law such as the Film Censorship Act if she had screened the atrocities committed by the Israelis in Palestine.”
The documentary in question featured the carnage that took place in the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war that was drawn out over 26 years.
Noting this, Kula questioned the alleged “double standards” when it comes to the wellbeing of the oppressed Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
“Malaysia, which has condemned the atrocities in places like Palestine, Bosnia and against the Rohingyas in Myammar, should not be selective in its comprehension of justice, by charging a human rights advocate who merely attempted to expose a crime against humanity.
He added that the documentary had been credited for playing a key role in convincing the United Nations to launch an investigation into the alleged war crimes that took place in Sri Lanka.
Hendry will be sentenced on March 22. She faces up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000.