Activist on trial for showing unapproved film slams Putrajaya for human rights hypocrisy

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Source: The Malaysian Insider

Local activist Lena Hendry says the government must not put on a different mask on the international front by promising to uphold the freedom of speech, yet still charge her in court over a charge of screening a film which had not been passed by the censorship board. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 14, 2015.

Local activist Lena Hendry says the government must not put on a different mask on the international front by promising to uphold the freedom of speech, yet still charge her in court over a charge of screening a film which had not been passed by the censorship board. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 14, 2015.

Malaysian activist Lena Hendry today said Putrajaya was continuing to persecute her and was being hypocritical about human rights with the charge against her for screening a film on the Sri Lankan civil war that was not approved by the Film Censorship Board.

She told Malaysiakini at the first day of her trial today that Putrajaya had pledged support at the United Nations for the freedom of expression, and had even voted “yes” on a resolution to protect human rights defenders.

Hendry, 30, a coordinator with civil society group Pusat Komas, said she felt her freedom of expression was being curtailed and she did not understand why the case against her was still being dragged on.

She said Malaysia had gone back on its promise at the United Nations by continuing to persecute her.

“This has to stop. Because they (the government) cannot put on a different mask as soon as they leave Malaysia. Then, when they come back to Malaysia, they continue to prosecute them (human rights defenders),” she told Malaysiakini outside the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court today.

She is facing trial for screening the award-winning documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall two years ago.

The court proceeding began after she failed to set aside the charge against her since September 2013.

Film-makers and artists around the world have also rallied support for Hendry via an open letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, urging for the charges against her under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 to be dropped.

The letter was also addressed to Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, amid calls for a repeal of the act which they described as a “draconian law used to attack and prevent freedom of speech”.

“(It) is disturbing, unacceptable and is in danger of bringing Malaysia into international disrepute,” states the open letter.

If convicted, Lena faces a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both, upon conviction. – December 14, 2015.