Uganda, Malaysia’s ‘twin city’

Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Sedition is a term of law which refers to overt conduct, such as speech and organisation, that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Ugandan online editor accused of sedition

Police accused the online editor of The Ugandan Record, Timothy Kalyegira, of sedition Tuesday and searched his house today, Kalyegira told the Committee to Protect Journalists. The Media Offences Department commissioner of police, Simon Kuteesa, interrogated Kalyegira about two online articles that speculated as to whether the Ugandan government were involved in the July 11 bomb attacks in Kampala.

Summoned on Monday, Kalyegira has reported to the police daily since and said he accompanied them while they searched his home today. Police confiscated his laptop, modem, passport, notes, and mobile phone. He was told to return to the Kiro Road Police Station in Bukoto, a suburb of the capital, Kampala, on Friday, he said.

The police Media Offence Department, which is part of the Criminal Investigations Department, have accused Kalyegira of violating the colonial-era penal code by publishing seditious material. Defense lawyer Ladisleus Rwakafuuzi told CPJ the police cannot legally charge Kalyegira under this law since it does not take into consideration online publications. “This law is not up-to-date,” Rwakafuuzi said. “They have no legal mandate for this since The Ugandan Record is not a newspaper.”

According to the Ugandan Human Rights Network of Journalists, more than a dozen Ugandan journalists are currently being prosecuted under the sedition law. Kalyegira is the first online journalist accused of sedition in Uganda, according to the daily Monitor. In 2005, former CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner Andrew Mwenda, managing editor of bimonthly news magazine The Independent, challenged the constitutionality of the sedition law. The case is still pending.

“Regardless of the nature of the article, sedition charges are never justified,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “We call on the authorities to return Timothy Kalyegira’s equipment.”

The Uganda Record is one of the few Ugandan media outlets that questioned whether the July 11 bomb blasts were instigated by Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab, Kalyegira told CPJ. The site published an article on July 12, “Who set off the Uganda Bombs?” and another July 16, “Why is Rwanda not condemning Al-Shabab?” that says: “Rwandan intelligence officers that Uganda Record sources have spoken to seem to believe that the bombings were by Ugandan intelligence.” The article provided no evidence for the allegations.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two July 11 bomb blasts in Kampala that left an estimated 76 people dead. An Al-Shabaab spokesman said it was retribution for Uganda’s participation in the African Union peacekeeping forces based in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. — Committee to Protect Journalists, 4 August 2010


Raja Petra Charged With Sedition

In a dramatic turn of events, controversial Malaysia Today news editor Raja Petra Kamarudin was Tuesday (6 May) charged with sedition at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court over his article which implicated Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah, in the murder of a young Mongolian woman.

“I knew it was coming,” RPK , as he is popularly known in blogsphere, told reporters, looking as if relieved that the death knell finally came.

Raja Petra claimed trial to the charge. He was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act for publishing a allegedly seditious article on April 25 on his Malaysia Today portal.

Hearing has been fixed from 6 to 10 Oct and Raja Petra was granted a bail of RM5,000, but in his trademark defiance, he refused bail, deciding instead to remain in custody until the hearing date. His wife, lawyers and friends tried persuading him to post bail but to no avail.

If found guilty, Raja Petra could be jailed for a maximum of three years and/or face a fine of up to RM5,000.

The charge sheet highlighted nine paragraphs of the article which was titled “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell” as seditious.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nordin Hassan is prosecuting while Raja Petra was represented by a team of six lawyers led by Karpal Singh.

Rumours have been making the rounds of his impending arrest ever since he penned an article “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell” which alluded to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife in the killing of a young Mongolian woman.

RPK was arrested following publication of the article on his immensely popular website but was let off after he refused to cooperate.

But since Monday (5 May), text messages have been furiously flying around that RPK was to be arrested Tuesday and charged with sedition.

Late Monday the popular webmaster was ordered to surrender at the Jalan Duta court complex at 9.30am this morning to face a sedition charge. He appeared there in his usual yellow T-shirt and while waiting to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court, he received a telephone call from the police at about 10.20am asking him to go to the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court instead.

Raja Petra said that he was a victim of political persecution.

“I knew this was coming. They are going to find ways and excuses to charge me but these are stupid excuses,” he said.

“Once they charge me, we will show that there is no evidence against me,” he added.

He said an Umno leader from Petaling Jaya (Utara) had said about three weeks ago that “they should find ways to arrest me”.

Present at the court were DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Ronnie Liu as well as Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and her mother, Wan Azizah, PKR president as well as PKR vice president MP Tian Chua.

Last Friday, Raja Petra was called in by the police to have his statement recorded over an Internet posting two weeks ago pertaining to the murder case of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian national.

On 25 Apr, Raja Petra posted the article titled ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ on his blog, Malaysia Today. The posting implicated Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor in the high-profile case.

Najib subsequently issued a denial through his press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, whereas Rosmah has also denied the allegations against her. The Altantunya murder trial is currently ongoing at the Shah Alam. — MySinchew, 6 May 2008