Press Release: Civil Society Organisations Condemns Persecution of Lena Hendry
Civil Society Organisations Condemn Persecution of Lena Hendry
*Malaysian Government Adamant About Muzzling Voices of Human Rights Defenders*
* Woman Human Rights Defender Lena Hendry Fined By Court for ‘unapproved’ film screening*
23rd March, 2017
Woman human rights defender Lena Hendry was fined MYR 10,000 yesterday by the Magistrate court under the Film Censorship Act 2002 for screening the documentary ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ in July 2013.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and Pusat KOMAS-Malaysia, together with civil society organisations from across Asia Pacific condemn the act of the Malaysian Government in criminalising the “film screening” and effectively undermining Lena Hendry’s work as a woman human rights defender.
“My conviction and sentencing yesterday has set a very bad precedent in Malaysia as it threatened our fundamental right to freedom of expression. The charge against me was clearly politically motivated and pursuing it till sentencing shows a new trend to control information that is critical to raising the awareness of the public on human rights issues,” said human rights defender Lena Hendry.
Faribel Maglin, a spokesperson from Pusat KOMAS said, “Screening the film is not a crime, it is a legitimate part of our human rights work. It is part of how we provide critical discussion space on a range of issues that is important to Malaysian society and our role in the world.”
We urge the Malaysian government to stop using the Film Censorship Act of 2002 in harassing and criminalising women human rights defenders for their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. APWLD Programme Officer Marion Cabrera added, “This is an assault on basic freedoms and an attack on women human rights defenders. We resist censorship and silencing in our lives, homes, communities and the state’s heavy hand in enforcing it. We remind the Government of Malaysia that by prosecution, leading to conviction of Lena, it has chosen to ignore its commitments under international human rights law.“
Lena’s case along with other cases of persecution against women human rights defenders stresses the irony that as we work to protect fundamental freedoms and human rights, our own rights are inversely undermined. Given our increasingly repressive contexts we will continue to make concerted efforts to make our governments accountable to uphold no less than international human rights laws and standards.
About The Documentary
‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka‘, is an award-winning documentary film that highlights human rights violations in Sri Lanka during the course of Sri Lankan civil war in 2009. The Sri Lankan Government has gone through lengths in banning the screening of this documentary in its embassy in Malaysia and in other parts of the world. However the documentary is now widely available on Youtube.
About Pusat KOMAS
Pusat KOMAS was founded in 1993 in Malaysia with the sole purpose of using creative media to raise consciousness on human rights especially for indigenous peoples, urban poor, workers, and civil society organisations through the use of popular media.
APWLD is the leading network of over 200 feminist organisations and grassroots feminist activists from 26 countries in Asia Pacific based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Over the past 30 years, APWLD has actively worked towards advancing women’s human rights and Development Justice. We are an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation and hold consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
For more information please contact
Faribel Maglin, Pusat KOMAS
+60 123 113 269
Neha Gupta, APWLD
+91-9810 078 055
To download the press release click here