PETALING JAYA: Amnesty International has hailed Bersih 2.0 chief Maria Chin Abdullah for her stand against injustice in the country.
In a statement released in conjunction with International Women’s Day, Amnesty’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said Maria was a distinguished human rights activist who had faced harassment, threats, imprisonment and violence for standing up for human rights.
On Nov 18, Maria was arrested following a raid at the coalition’s office in Petaling Jaya. The raid took place less than 24 hours before the Bersih 5 gathering in Kuala Lumpur, which saw tens of thousands take to the streets demanding a clean administration and free and fair elections.
The 60-year-old mother of three was arrested under Section 124C of the Penal Code for activities “detrimental to parliamentary democracy”.
Speaking today, Champa noted that Maria had been detained without trial and held in solitary confinement for 11 days.
She also condemned the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) under which Maria had been held, calling it a “draconian law”.
“Her (Maria’s) only crime was to have led the Bersih protest, where thousands took to the streets to peacefully call for electoral reform and good governance,” she said.
Champa added that Maria had been repeatedly investigated and charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for the organisation and participation in the other peaceful rallies.
Her statement today acknowledged Maria as a woman “whose heroism inspires many in the region and whose contributions to society should be commended, not condemned”.