PETALING JAYA: The prolonged detention of Australia-based activist Natalie Lowrey smacks of abuse of power, said Suaram.
The NGO has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Lowrey, who was arrested for taking part in the anti-Lynas rare earth plant protest on June 22.
“We condemn the unnecessary arrest (of Lowrey)… the prolonged detention is a serious breach of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” Suaram said in a statement today.
Lowrey was arrested together with 15 other Malaysian activists in Gebeng, Pahang. She is still in police custody while the rest have been released.
Suaram said the 16 should not have been detained in the first place. “They were merely exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
“Their peaceful action is perfectly legitimate and should not be criminalised,” it added.
Suaram reminded the government and the police that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly “are universal human rights”.
“These rights are recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Malaysia has also endorsed.”
Suaram contended that the rights cannot be nullified merely on the grounds that Lowrey is a foreigner, saying this contravenes international human rights laws.
It called for the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which bans foreigners from organising or participating in a peaceful assembly, to be abolished or amended.
The NGO also described the detention of Lowrey under the notorious Immigration Act, as an act done in bad faith.
(The act allows for a 14-day detention before the detainee is brought to court.)
Suaram urged the government to heed the increased international calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Lowrey.
The international petition, which is addressed to the Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, has already garnered more than 14,000 signatures internationally since it was launched on June 23.
It also called on the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to visit the Kuantan police headquarters to ensure that the rights of Lowrey are protected.