Hong Kong, 10 April 2002
In Asia, “national security” has been incorporated within the legal framework of a number of countries in the region. South Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore and Malaysia are prime examples. These so-called “emergency laws” have deliberately incorporated a common flaw: vital concepts, such as “subversion,” “state or public security” and now “terrorism,” have not been clearly defined to describe the precise nature of the perceived threat. This ambiguity gives governments a wide scope in exercising such legislation arbitrarily and without regard to the civil rights of the people. In short, it affords them protection from public scrutiny and criticism.
The misuse of national security laws in Asia is pervasive and explicit. Two countries-Singapore and Malaysia-stand out in the way they have refined the use of such legislation, which is called the Internal Security Act (ISA) in both countries. In effect, the governments of both countries are using the law, not to protect the rights of their people, but to deny them their rights.
The Hong Kong SAR government is now in the process of enacting an anti-terrorism law with a definition that has all of these elements that threaten the civil rights of all citizens. As it is also considering enactment of legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law to criminalise acts of “sedition,” “secession” and “subversion,” we call upon the citizens of Hong Kong to be vigilant so that they too do not fall into the same repressive situation as Singapore and Malaysia.
In Singapore, since the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) came to power in 1959, the ISA has been used to effectively stifle political opposition and the critics of government policies, whether or not they are organised in formal political parties The effect is that Singapore’s citizens live under the constant threat of indefinite detention without trial, torture, mistreatment and public humiliation, all of which have been meted out through the use of this draconian legislation to various victims of the government.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has also used the ISA time and again against perceived political opponents. Today-April 10, 2002-marks the day one year ago when the Malaysian government began arresting and detaining about 30 members of the reformasi movement and other political activists.
Today six of these prisoners of conscience are still in prison without having been charged in court and without any indication of being released within the foreseeable future. These detainees-Lokman Nor Adam, Hishamuddin Rais, Saari Sungip, Mohd. Ezam Mohd. Noor, Tian Chua and Badrul Amin-suffering physically and mentally under a rigid, inhumane prison regime, are beginning a hunger strike today, April 10, to protest this injustice done to them and to demand their immediate release from detention as well as the abolition of the ISA.
Today we declare our solidarity with these detainees and their families, who are also gathered together in Malaysia to demand justice. We thus demand the immediate release of Lokman Nor Adam, Hishamuddin Rais, Saari Sungip, Mohd. Ezam Mohd. Noor, Tian Chua and Badrul Amin and the abolition of the Internal Security Act.
Asian Students’ Association
Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge
Asian Human Rights Commission
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives
Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrants
Mission for Filipino Migrant Workers
United Filipinos in Hong Kong
Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers
Hong Kong Federation of Students
Association for the Advancement of Feminism
Far East Overseas Nepalese Association (FEONA)
Lee Cheuk Yan, Legislaive Councillor, Hong Kong
Caroline Davis, Amnesty International, Hong Kong
Liz Whitelam, Amnesty International, Hong Kong
Mok Chiu Yu, Amnesty International, Hong Kong
Sarah Carmichael, Amnesty International, Hong Kong
Peggy Gan, Amnesty International, Hong Kong
Dominique Muller, Amnesty IS, HK
Lung Wain Man James, Hong Kong Community Development Network, Hong Kong
JennyAnn Chan HKIA, Hong Kong
Marlo B. Delos Trinos, CICM, Hong Kong
Mian Sajjad Hussain, Young Students’ Movement, Pakistan
Lau Ho Yi Carrie, Sophia Woodman, Bhavna Lalchandani, Ngan Ching Ching Dora, So Sheung John Shannon, Nancy Rhind , Wu Kin Ching, Chan Ming Kit, Anna Chan, Fung Chi Wood, Si-si Liu, Grant Chan, Tang Fong Har, George K.C.Kwong, Angela Lee, Cynthia Tin Wai Yeung, Shirley Chan, Cheung, Kwok Wah, Ricky Chau, Kit Chan, Bruce Van Voorhis, Lin Chew, May Wong, Apo Leung, Kim Aehwa, Keshav Pandey, Aaron Ceradoy, Helen te Hira, Sherman Tang, Chan Wai Fong, Chan Ka Ming, Paris Law, Choi YukYuk, Jork Tse, Mayling Chan, Dawn Li, Teddy Arellano, Bungon Tamasorn (Thailand), Marla Asis (Philippines), Nancy Stafford (USA)Hong Kong, 10 April 2002