Is denial of entry of Suaram executive director into Sarawak ominous sign of a possible general rollback of human rights under a new Prime Minister in the months to come

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaTuesday): The Sarawak State Government has violated  the fundamental human rights of Malaysians for freedom of movement in one’s own country when it instructed the Sarawak immigration authorities to deny entry by SUARAM Executive Director, Ms. Cynthia Gabriel yesterday. 

Cynthia arrived in Sarawak at the Miri Airport at about 9.15 p.m. last night to attend a workshop titled "Workshop on Globalisation and its Impacts on Indigenous Peoples in Malaysia" but was told by the Sarawak Immigration authorities at the airport t that she was a persona non grata and  denied entry although no  official reasons were given as to why she is on the Immigration  blacklist. 

The immigration  officers held her passport and she was flown out of Miri to KLIA on the first flight this morning. 

The action by the Immigration Department and the  Sarawwak State Government in denying Cynthia her right to attend an important programme in Sarawak is a serious violation of her  Malaysian citizenship right as well as a grave  breach of fundamental human rights such as   Article 13 of the Universal  Declaration of Human Rights which states that  everyone has the rights and freedom of movement within the borders of each state as well as the  freedom to leave and return to a country.  

It is a matter of grave concern that such violation of fundamental human rights is being carried out so blatantly and flagrantly, especially at a period of transition of the top leadership post in the country when Malaysians are looking for clues as to what a new Prime Minister in the person of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has in store for Malaysians, particularly on the important issues of democracy and human rights. 

Is Cynthia’s denial of entry into Sarawak an ominous sign that far from general improvement in human rights,  a general rollback of the already very truncated and limited human rights in the country in the  months to come are distinctly on the cards?  DAP calls on Abdullah to intervene and to restore to Cynthia both her citizenship and fundamental human rights to freedom of travel in her own country.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman