Jul 3: An Islamic group has condemned local non-governmental groups and think tanks at both ends of the spectrum for their indifference and silence over the plight of hunger striking detainees under the Internal Security Act.
In a statement to Harakahdaily, Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Renaissance Front also took to task Home minister Hishamuddin Hussein for refusing to immediately explain the continued detention of some 45 individuals under the ISA, the draconian law the government said would be replaced by the equally controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.
Hishamuddin had earlier stated that he would only offer an explanation next week despite nine of them in their second week of hunger strike, but IRF questioned whether the authorities were waiting for detainees to die.
"If not, then his delay in explaining all too strongly suggests that there really is no reason why the detainees should be withheld, that this is all a stubborn show of force by an institution that is not willing to come to terms with its obligations to serve the people in the name of justice," said the group.
A series of shocking revelations has recently emerged detailing how detainees were physically and emotionally tortured.
Yesterday, the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) presented its memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia highlighting the plight of 45 remaining detainees under the notorious law.
According to GMI coordinator Syukri Razab, detainees on hunger strike had been assaulted, and several others hospitalised. GMI had earlier revealed how some detainees were tortured, their bodies "hung upside down" while in semi-nude state.
'Where are the Islamic, liberal fighters?'
Assuring the hunger strikers of its "unconditional support", IRF said such desperate measures only confirmed the colonial nature of the ISA, but added that their approach was understandable.
"After all, it was our Prime Minister himself who ostentatiously declared that the ISA was to be abolished for not meeting contemporary standards of judiciary conduct.
"Now, almost a year later, the Malaysian people are still waiting and wondering if that day will ever come," said the statement by the group's Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa and Ahmad Fuad Rahmat.
The group also did not spare Muslim NGOs who had in the past made their stance public on Islamic issues as well as groups which claimed to be fighting for "liberalism and freedom".
"Where is the so called young ex-mufti reformer who rejoiced with optimism and heaped praises after Najib’s announcement that the ISA would be abolished?
"Where are the enlightened youths of HAKIM and their endless joy in nagging everyone about the importance of Islamic Adab and civilization?" it asked, referring to an organisation which in the past had come out with views on contemporary issues affecting Islam and Muslims in the country.
"Where are IDEAS and their endless preaching about liberalism and freedom? Are we expecting the security at Kamunting to be run by private security contractors before we can expect IDEAS to take an interest on this issue?" asked IRF, taking a jibe at a relatively new think tank which has spoken in defence of such ideas as free market and western-style democracy.
The group further stressed that the ISA must be ended immediately and detainees be released.
"Should there be any probable cause of criminal offence, they should be given an absolutely free and transparent trial based on the highest standards of human rights and international justice."
IRF also hit out at the government's hypocrisy in speaking out against human rights violations abroad while showing "utter indifference and silence" over the plight of detainees in the country.
"All this confirms the age old truism that it’s often much easier to moralize about other people’s problems than to clean up one’s own house," it said.
(Originally published in Harakahdaily: http://en.