Subject: URGENT ACTION: APCET member arrested in KL!
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 15:37:58 +1300
From: sonny inbaraj <ausasia@ozemail.com.au> Organization: The AustralAsian

MAST Urgent Action for APCET member arrested

Events in Malaysia following the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim as Deputy Prime Minister and his subsequent arrest, together with 11 others, under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) have prompted the set-up of the Malaysia-Australia Support Team (MAST) in Darwin. The ISA, in Malaysia, allows for indefinite detention in jail without a trial.

The co-founders of MAST are Darwin-based human rights activists Rob Wesley-Smith and Vaughan Williams together with journalists Sonny Inbaraj, a Malaysian residing in Darwin, and Alan Whykes.

MAST URGENT ALERT

TIEN CHUA, one of the pioneer members of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) was arrested last night by the Malaysian police as they violently broke up a pro-democracy demonstration in Kuala Lumpur.

Tien Chua, who also chairs the Coalition for People's Democracy and is a member of the Voice of the Malaysian People (SUARAM) rights group, was hauled away by plainclothes police officers as riot police dispersed a crowd of around 3,000 people demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Police used electric prods on some of those detained, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Coalition for People's Democracy together with the People's Justice Movement represent an attempt by opposition political parties and non-governmental organisations to provide some focus and direction to a small but burgeoning people power movement that has prompted nearly daily demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur for the past week.

The protests were triggered by the arrest on Sep 20 of Mahathir's longtime deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, whom the prime minister has accused of sodomy and sexual misconduct. Anwar has denied the allegations, and his supporters say they were trumped up when the prime minister sensed that his younger rival was about to push him out and expose what they termed corruption in the ruling clique.

Last week as large crowds of supporters and human rights activists continued to gather at Anwar's residence, in Kuala Lumpur, police commandos acting on the instructions of Mahathir stormed the deputy prime minister's house and arrested him under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without a trial. A crackdown soon followed and 11 of Anwar's close friends were also detained under the ISA.

Over 200 Malaysians have been arrested under the Police Act which prohibits gatherings of more than three people without a permit and prescribes a punishment of up to six months imprisonment. These cases have had a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Malaysia, as Mahathir's cronies signal that there is no space for dissenting public opinion in Malaysia.

It is not known what Tien Chua has been charged with, and he is believed to be held in the Dang Wangi Police Station run by Chief Police Officer Zainal Abidin Ali who is known for his staunch pro-Suharto stand on East Timor.

In November 1996, Tien Chua and 50 other Malaysians were arrested by CPO Zainal when the proceedings of APCET II were disrupted.

Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta expressed strong support, last week, for Anwar Ibrahim and warned that his arrest would not help the government in Kuala Lumpur.

"Anwar Ibrahim and those who want change in Malaysia have all my support," he said in a National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) statement.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please write letters demanding the immediate release of all the ISA detainees and all those arrested in the streets, including Tien Chua. Also demand that there be no further crackdown on the supporters of the Reformation Movement, opposition parties and NGO and human rights activists.

Please address your letters to:

1. Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad Prime Minister of Malaysia Jalan Dato Onn 50502 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Fax: +60-3-2984172/+60-3-2383784

2. Datuk Mokhtar Abdullah Attorney-General of Malaysia Jabatan Peguam Negara Malaysia Tingkat 20, Bangunan Bank Negara Malaysia, Jalan Tangsi Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Fax: +60-3-2984172

3. Tan Sri Rahim Noor Inspector-General of Police Ibu Pejabat Polis Persekutuan Bukit Aman Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Fax: +60-3-2910707

Please also send protest letters to your nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate.

We would be grateful if you could also send copies of your letters to SUARAM at suaram@geocities.com OR wkpeng@pc.jaring.my AND MAST at rwesley@ozemail.com.au OR ozasian@hotmail.com

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