Malaysia

Stop press: Malaysian civil rights activist Maria Chin Abdullah has been released

releaseMalaysian civil rights activist Maria Chin Abdullah has been released.

Maria Chin, who is the chairwoman of the Bersih 2.0 Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, was arrested on November 18, the day before the Bersih 5 demonstration.

Lawyers for Liberty ‏tweeted: “Maria is out! Confirmed!”

There has been outrage both nationally and internationally over the detention of Maria Chin under a law that is supposed to be used to combat terrorism.

The Bersih leader was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or SOSMA, which meant the authorities could hold her for 28 days without trial.

She was held in solitary confinement in a tiny, windowless cell. After protests about the conditions of her detention, she was given a mattress and a pillow.

There was no remand hearing in the Bersih leader’s case.

Under SOSMA, the authorities can hold detainees for two days without legal representation.

There have been nightly solidarity gatherings next to Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) in Kuala Lumpur and vigils have been held in other cities and towns around Malaysia, and abroad.

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Lawyers for Liberty added on Twitter: “Maria is in the car with @Ambiga_S, going home to see her family from Bukit Aman. Maria will be speaking tonight at Dataran Merdeka.” They then updated: “And @mariachin is at home with her family!”

Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan says the Bersih leader was released this afternoon at the Bukit Aman police headquarters.

“Initially, they said they will record her statement,”  Sreenevasan told the online news portal Malaysiakini. “So I went inside to accompany her as they took her statement.

“At the end of it, they got an order to release her. We were really stunned and both of us broke down.”

A habeas corpus application had been scheduled to be heard in the High Court tomorrow (Tuesday).

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with-ambigaHeading home. Maria Chin (right) with Ambiga Sreenevasan, who is the president of Malaysia’s National Human Rights Society (HAKAM).

More on Maria Chin’s release to follow.

Update:

The police today raided the office of the women’s group Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER) in Petaling Jaya this afternoon.

According to the organisation’s lawyer Honey Tan, the police are investigating the group under Section 124C of the Penal Code for alleged activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, and also under SOSMA. Documents were seized, but no-one was arrested.

EMPOWER was founded by Maria Chin.

 

 

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