Women Speak Against Censorship and Silencing

Solidarity Message of APWLD for the #DefendLena Campaign

18th March 2017

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

On the 18th March 2017 we join in solidarity with our members, CSOs and fellow WHRDs in Malaysia as they resist censorship and demand freedom of expression and of association, and civil activism.  

We are greatly concerned by the prosecution and subsequent conviction of Lena Hendry under the Film Censorship Act 2002 for privately organising the film screening of “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” on 22 March 2017.  The government of Malaysia has chosen, once again, to bluntly exercise its power to groundlessly harass a woman human rights defender for her legitimate human rights activities.    

We are particularly concerned of the fact that Lena’s conviction is the first time when the Film Censorship Act is utilised to criminalise a legitimate human rights activity, seriously restricting one’s fundamental freedom.  It sets a dangerous precedent and opens up a door for the government to adopt censorship as an effective tool of repression by controlling information, discouraging critical thought and denying consciousness raising.  We resist censorship and silencing in our lives, homes, communities and the state’s heavy hand in enforcing it — in this case Lena’s conviction.

We stand with all of you and [women] human rights defenders across the world in demanding the government of Malaysia to:

  • Overturn the conviction of Lena Hendry
  • Immediately withdraw all forms of judicial harassments and attacks against [women] human rights defenders.
  • Put into actions to recognise the important role of [women] human rights defenders and secure their protection according to the government’s commitment when it voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution in 2015.

Let us continue to #DefendLena and all W/HRDs facing judicial harassment and all forms of violation.