GMI claims 3 held under ISA

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider

The Anti-ISA Movement (GMI) today claimed three men have been held under the Internal Security Act recently and asked the National Human Rights Commission to investigate.

GMI director Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said Agus Salim, a 32-year-old Indonesian, was arrested last March 5 in Larkin, Johor while 60-year-old Abdul Matin Anol Rahmat was picked up in Ulu Tiram, Johor on April 1. There was no information about the third detainee except his name, Johar Hassan.

It is learnt the three were arrested under section 73 (1) of the ISA which allows for 60 days’ detention before the home minister decides to keep them any longer.

"Agus' sister Fatin tried to use the number given to verify where he was located but the response was that his name was not in the records in PRC Bukit Aman," Syed Ibrahim told reporters today after handing a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

The PRC is the police remand centre where all those detained under the ISA are first kept for questioning.

The GMI is asking the government to free them immediately or charge them in court. It also asked the government to guarantee the safety of the three detained and allow them to meet family members and lawyers.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak freed 13 ISA detainees when he assumed the post on April 3. He has promised to review the ISA which has been widely criticised as it allows detention without trial.

The 1960s law was enacted when the country was facing the communist threat but critics and human rights activists say it is now being used against political opponents. Those previously detained include religious extremists, currency forgers and a nuclear parts middleman.

The GMI also handed another memorandum to Suhakam asking for the abolition of the ISA as it conflicts with human rights, principles of justice, and freedom and legitimacy of law.

Syed Ibrahim noted that Suhakam has suggested that ISA be replaced with a new Terrorism Act since 1993 but the recommendation has not been reviewed by the government or tabled in Parliament.

"We have looked at the list of the 13 who were freed from ISA and of the 13, there is one who was detained for six years. I would like to inform that there are those being detained in their 7th and 8th year. Why are they still being detained?" he asked, warning the people not to be deceived by the government's action as the fresh detentions proved it was an "arbitrary law".

He also said the ISA was clouded by hidden agendas and was cruel as relatives of those detained would not know their fates, noting that Najib's recent release of the 13 was politically motivated to portray him as a caring prime minister.

Syed Ibrahim said GMI believes there are currently 30 people now being held under the ISA, with four detained for more than six years, two between five and six years, another two between four and five years, six between three and four years and the rest under three years.

Aliza Jaafar, a committee member of GMI and wife of former ISA detainee Saari Sugib, said those freed from the ISA are not really free because of the restrictions imposed on them.

"They cannot leave their area, they must be home from 6 in the evening to 6 in the morning, every week they have to report to the police station so they are not actually free," she told the reporters.