Malaysian Government must stand up internationally to demand justice  for Amadou Diallo but this cannot be an excuse to deny  justice for Anwar Ibrahim

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The reaction of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim to the United States Department annual report on worldwide human rights practices pertaining to Malaysia is most disturbing and dishonourable.

While lambasting the United States for behaving like the world’s policeman, Rais said  that the United States should stop passing judgment on others on human rights abuses when there are rampant human rights violations in the Bronx area in New York, for example,  which were never told to the world.

Rais seemed to be suggesting that the United States should close its eyes to the human rights violations in Malaysia in exchange for the Malaysian government’s closing its eyes to the human rights abuses in the United States.

This is most dishonourable and even irresponsible, for Malaysia would then be abdicating from its international commitment made at  the World Conference on Human Rights 1993 where 171 United Nations member states including Malaysia unanimously adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which, among other things, declared the following tenets:

In accordance with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, human rights abuses in the Bronx area in New York is not the mere domestic concern of the United States, but the legitimate concern of Malaysia and the international community just as we must accept that human rights violations in Malaysia has become the legitimate concern of the United States and the international community.

If the human rights violations in the Bronx area in New York had never been told to the world, then let the Malaysian government inform the world of this untold story.
Malaysia, however,  should never suggest that it enter into a dishonourable compact with the United States with each closing its eyes to the other’s human rights violations.

When Rais referred to the human rights violations in the Bronx area in New York, he was clearly referring to the cause celebre as a result of four New York policemen killing unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, 22, a street vendor, in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment building on February 4 last year.

Police fired 41 bullets and Diallo was hit 19 times. The officers said they opened fire on Diallo after he reached for what they believed was a gun but  turned out to be his wallet.

Protest demonstrations have broken out in New York after the four  white New York Police  had been acquitted on Saturday of Diallo’s shooting death.

Malaysia must stand up internationally to demand for justice for Amadou Diallo, such as the Malaysian Parliament passing an all-party resolution deploring the injustice perpetrated on Amadou Diallo and that the U.S. Justice Department initiate actions against the New York police for violations of the federal criminal civil rights laws, just as in the previous case  when Los Angeles police officers were initially acquitted in the  videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King. Malaysia should also highlight the cause celebre in the United Nations and other international forums.

However, the demand for justice for Amadou Diallo cannot be an excuse for denial of justice for Anwar Ibrahim, for instance, and the Malaysian government must be prepared to respond to the US State Department report about police brutality and criminality in Malaysia in the same way the United States government must also answer for its own  police brutality and criminality.

As the Minister in charge of law and justice, Rais should prepare and table a White Paper in Parliament as a point-by-point  rebuttal to a very damning US State Department  report on human rights violations  in Malaysia, as highlighted by the  Anwar Ibrahim case  with particular references to the  lack of judicial independence and impartiality, politically-motivated selective prosecution  and police  abuses in the country.

The Government White Paper should in particular answer the following serious charges in the US State Department report on human rights violations in Malaysia:

"Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

"There were no reports of political killings; however, police committed a number of extrajudicial killings.

"Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

"Police continued to abuse detainees. Police sometimes subjected criminal
suspects and illegal alien detainees to physical and psychological torture
during interrogation and detention. During the 1998 trial of former Deputy
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, senior police officers testified that the
police had institutionalized techniques to subject some ‘national security’ detainees to coercive and abusive treatment. A senior police officer said
that police did not consider the legality of such tactics.

"Denial of Fair Public Trial

"The cases against former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and some of his associates, Lim Guan Eng, Irene Fernandez and Murray Hiebert  also have raised questions about judicial independence and impartiality.

"During Anwar's corruption trial, the judge made several questionable rulings that greatly limited Anwar's ability to defend himself against what clearly were politically-motivated charges. For example, the judge sentenced one of Anwar's attorneys to 3 months' imprisonment for contempt after the attorney raised in court charges of prosecutorial misconduct. The judge greatly restricted the scope of Anwar's defense (on occasions during the trial the judge explicitly said that he did not care if there was a conspiracy to bring down Anwar) and tolerated improper activities by the police and prosecutors. The judge allowed prosecutors to amend the charges in the middle of the trial, which is permitted under national law but in this case clearly was unfair to Anwar. Anwar was denied the ability to rebut evidence of sexual misconduct presented by prosecution witnesses when the judge, at the end of the prosecution's case, allowed prosecutors to amend the charges, and then expunged the record of all evidence of sexual misconduct. Since his arrest, Anwar has been denied bail on questionable legal grounds.

"Anwar now is being tried on a separate charge of sodomy. At the beginning of the trial, prosecutors changed the dates of the alleged acts of sodomy,
allegedly because the defense had discovered that the apartment building
where the sodomy allegedly took place had not been completed by the original dates. Despite testimony detailing how police had coerced a confession from an alleged homosexual partner, on July 26 the judge ruled that the prosecution had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this confession had been voluntary. On August 4, another witness admitted that police had couched part of his testimony. On August 18, the lead police investigator materially contradicted his testimony (in order to make it consistent with the amended dates of the alleged offense); the next day the judge ruled that the policeman had not lied. At year's end, the sodomy trial still continued."


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman