Statement on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
29 November, 2016
APWLD celebrates International Women Human Rights Defenders Day with the news of Malaysian Woman Human Rights Defender Maria Chin Abdullah’s release from her ten days of detention yesterday, a day before her habeas corpus hearing. Maria was held under the draconian Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) for her activism leading a democratic movement for free and fair elections in Malaysia. Maria Chin has been informed that investigation against her under Section 124C of the Penal Code, for allegedly attempting to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, will continue.
On the same day of Maria’s release, police also raided EMPOWER Malaysia, a women’s rights organisation that acted as the BERSIH 2.0 Secretariat from 2010-2014. Maria previously served as Executive Director of EMPOWER. We are deeply concerned that the two staff in the office were denied access to lawyers and the raid continued for over 4 hours under 124C of the Penal Code, read together with SOSMA.
APWLD continues to question the grounds for Maria’s detention and the legitimacy of any legislation that enables arbitrary detention without judicial review. We will continue with our solidarity actions until the Government of Malaysia respond to our collective demands:
- Withdrawal of all politically motivated charges and investigations against Maria Chin Abdullah
- Cessation of harassment and threats towards Maria Chin and other civil society actors engaging in peaceful, democratic advocacy
- Ensure rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in accordance with Malaysian constitution and international human rights law without undue interference.
International Women Human Rights Defenders Day was first honoured in 2006 to recognise women human rights defenders and their contribution to human rights, equality, justice, peace and democracy. To commemorate the 11th International Women Human Rights Defenders Day this year, we call on the international community and States to recognise and protect the work of women human rights defenders, end all forms of persecution and violence against them, and ensure an enabling environment for their courageous act of resistance and activism.
Photo: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day © APWLD