Suaram wants meeting with IGP to halt ‘harassment’ of activists

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy (second from left) and other members of the NGO stage a silent protest outside Bukit Aman after he was called in for questioning today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Suaram has called for an open discussion with the inspector-general of police to prevent further “intimidation and harassment” of civil society members.

Its executive director, Sevan Doraisamy, spent about an hour being questioned by Bukit Aman’s Classified Criminal Investigation Unit (D5) today after Suaram organised a forum titled “The LTTE conundrum and Sosma as a draconian law” on Nov 25.

Sevan, who said he has been called in for questioning more than 10 times in his five years at Suaram, is hoping that discussions with IGP Abdul Hamid Bador will put a stop to police hauling in activists each time they organise a protest, forum or rally.

“There has been so much intimidation against human rights defenders who have a responsibility to bring up issues that are detrimental to human rights and the democratic process,” he said before leaving the federal police headquarters.

“We appeal to the IGP, we want to meet you to talk about this continuous harassment of political dissenters and members of civil society.

“We don’t want to blame the IOs (investigation officers) because they are just following orders, and they say this is part of their SOP (standard operating procedure). But if this is part of their SOP, we want to meet the IGP with other civil societies to discuss why it needs to be changed.”

Sevan, who was accompanied by lawyer New Sin Yew, said he knew of several other activists who had been called in for questioning since the change of government.

The forum on Nov 25 was to discuss the arrest of individuals for alleged links to the defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, or Sosma.

Among the speakers was Klang MP Charles Santiago.

Sevan said he was questioned on the two DAP assemblymen who were among the 12 arrested, and whether the speeches at the forum implied that the police had used Sosma as a political tool to arrest the duo, or that the arrests were linked to preacher Dr Zakir Naik.

He said he told police he would answer the questions in court if required.

He claimed that there were Special Branch officers at the forum and that the whole exercise painted police in a negative light.

“We have a responsibility to put a human rights perspective to all of this (LTTE and Sosma) but when we do our work, we are intimidated and harassed,” he said.