Suaram is deeply angered to learn of the assault of two ISA detainees at the Kamunting detention camp last Friday, 9th May 2003. A regular visit by family members the day after was met with shock when they learnt of physical attacks by prison personnel on Tian Chua and Hishamuddin Rais.
Tian was found with bruises on his neck, arms and on his back. According to details revealed to his family, on Friday evening at about 5.00pm, a group of 30 camp security personnel equipped with heavy riot gear complete with shields, batons and mace, stormed into the dormitory, in an apparent attempt to seize the laptop computer belonging to Tian which was taken into the dormitory, the day before.
Tian, who was outside at the time the commotion ensued, rushed into the dormitory, and was immediately grabbed by security personnel and pinned down brutally to the ground. He was handcuffed and several of the men took the liberty to sit on his frail body. When Hishamuddin saw this, he shouted at the security personnel, and he too was immediately pinned down by force to the ground and handcuffed. He was then sent away to be kept in solitary confinement.
By this time the other detainees stood guard by the door and refused more security personnel from entering. Tian tried to gesture towards the door and negotiate with them, when he was violently sent down to the ground again, this time his "sarong" was pulled off, leaving him naked, in front of all.
This incident must be strongly condemned. The prison personnel had committed a seriously grave offence, acted without shame and used their unchecked powers to completely strip the detainees of their dignity and trampled upon all their rights.
Their action brings further disgrace, when it was only on two days ago that the Internal Advisory Board had upheld its earlier decision advising the release of the detainees, following a landmark Federal Court judgment last September, which declared the detentions of these men unlawful and done in bad faith.
Suaram calls for immediate action to be taken by SUHAKAM, and urges for an immediate and thorough investigation to be conducted into the assaults. We also call for all personnel found responsible to have committed the assaults and to have used unnecessary force to be punished and disciplinary action taken against them.
We are further enraged over the treatment meted out to a member of the legal team of the ISA detainees, Cheah Kah Peng, who was not only denied entry into the camp to see his clients, but was harassed and intimidated by plainclothes and uniformed policemen at the main gate of the detention centre. He was verbally abused, threatened with his life and was spat on by one of the men.
Suaram regrets the bully tactics and despicable behaviour of the police and security personnel on the detainees and on their lawyer, and demand that they be given immediate access to their clients.
We further urge the Bar Council to come forward and take necessary steps to ensure the protection of their members, so that they can perform their duties properly, without fear or favour.
11 May 2003
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)