We Will Not Be Silenced

Investigate the issue, not the messenger!

Investigation & Raid On Human Rights Defenders

Freedom Film Network executive director Anna Har and cartoonist Amin Landak are being investigated by the police over the animated film ‘Chili Powder & Thinner’. 

The film illustrates the true story of a boy’s testimony of being tortured while being in police custody.

Anna and Amin are being investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act and Sections 500 and 505B of the Penal Code.

Investigations also began on human rights activists from the human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and MISI: Solidariti.

Chili Powder & Thinner: An animation based on the real-life experience of a 16-year-old teenager who witnessed and experienced torture while in police custody.

This film is part of SUARAM’s campaign to highlight the need for an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), first proposed in 2005 by recommendation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

It has been reported that 721 people died in police custody between 2013 to 2016. Besides that 10% of 369 detainees reported seeing or experiencing physical abuse.

In response to the public outrage, a royal commission was set up as a promise for a solution – an investigation into improving the Malaysian policing system. As a result, the Royal Commission’s Report to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police was produced in 2005, outlining recommendations that had included The Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

The IPCMC, however, was never implemented. PDRM starkly opposed the IPCMC, claiming it went against the police. Even after countless consultations and studies carried out by the Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan, and now Perikatan Nasional government, they all failed to establish the commission.

More info about the IPCMC campaign HERE

Sign the petition HERE

Timeline of events

After the June 12, 2021 online premiere of ‘Chili Powder & Thinner’ and a post-screening discussion, the police swiftly began to investigate those involved in the screening of the film – a journalist, a cartoonist and activists.

A journalist was questioned by the police on his article in Free Malaysia Today.

Investigations, raids begin, equipment confiscated

FFN’s Anna Har and cartoonist Amin Landak are investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code for defamation, Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code for statements that could cause public alarm and distress, and Section 233 (1) (a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of network facilities.

FFN’s office and Amin’s home were raided; three computers, a modem and a router were confiscated from the office. They also confiscated a laptop from Amin’s home.

As reported in: Free Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini, Kwong Wah, MalayMail, KiniTV, Sinchew, Video4Change

Why investigate the messenger?

Anna shares on how the use of intimidation and harassment by the authorities is an act of censorship with the radio station BFM.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia: Focus on improving service, not intimidating critics (Focus Malaysia)

The irony of the whole episode is that it’s happening while we are fighting a deadly pandemic, with three people committing suicides a day, on average.

And in these circumstances, what does the police do? They carry out the most non-essential duty, which is to raid a non-governmental organisation’s (NGO) office and cartoonist’s house.

S Arutchelvan, Parti Sosialis Malaysia

Intimidation continues

Four human rights activists are investigated at PDRM: Dr Kua Kia Soong, Sevan Doraisamy and Mohamad Alshatri from SUARAM, and Sharon Wah from MISI: Solidariti.

64 partners in joint statement

CIJ, FFN and 64 partners & and 24 individuals condemned retaliatory investigations:

Initiating an investigation merely on the account that a particular incident negatively portrays the police is unwarranted and a serious violation of our constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and speech.

Address allegations, stop harassment

Amnesty International Malaysia: This is an attempt to silence criticism of the police and distract from public concern over the high numbers of allegations of abuse and deaths in police custody.

In recent months, there have been a spate of deaths in custody, among them A Ganapathy (18 April), S Sivabalan (20 May), Surendran Shanker (27 May) and Umar Faruq Abdullah (3 June).

Deaths in custody have been a longstanding problem, with human rights organisation Suaram documenting at least eight publicly recorded cases in 2020, and at least 104 people having died in custody from 2011 to 2018.

Yet, 16 years after the recommendation by a Royal Commission of Inquiry to establish an Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the government and the police continue to resist its formation.

Repeal Repressive Legislation & End Intimidation

From Bangkok, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) calls for the repeal of repressive legislation and the government to end the intimidation of artists and human rights defenders:

We stand in solidarity with them and all human rights defenders who have continued to find ways to raise human rights violations despite an increasingly repressive environment in Malaysia. They amplify the voices of the most vulnerable and ensure victims of State violations are not forgotten.

Why shoot the messenger if this is the state of the Malaysian police today?

From Singapore, Function 8:

We urge the Attorney General of Malaysia to stop all investigations against FFN and our Malaysian friends, Anna Har and Amin Landak, and return all seized equipment to them.

We also urge the Attorney General to investigate the facts revealed in the film Chili Powder & Thinner, and take action against the police officers responsible for the death of one of the boys and the physical torture suffered by the other two.

Kuasa tidak boleh dijadikan alat untuk menindas

Svara menyokong dua tuntutan yang diusulkan oleh Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), dan kesal intimidasi ini berlaku apabila warga negara sedang berdepan dengan himpitan akibat pandemik Covid-19 dan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP):

Perhatian sengaja dialihkan daripada pokok permasalahan yang dibangkitkan dalam video berkenaan, iaitu tentang kes-kes kematian warga negara Malaysia ketika dalam tahanan polis masih terus berlaku tanpa sebarang tindakan tegas.

An affront to freedom of expression in Malaysia

The Institute for Democracy And Economic Affairs (IDEAS): condemns the office raid, sees it as an affront to freedom of expression in Malaysia, urges the formation of the IPCMC:

The investigation and raid on FFN will invariably impede the efforts towards the flourishing of human rights, good governance, accountability and transparency in Malaysia. These are fundamental elements of a democracy, which are already dangerously under threat given the current state of emergency.

Crackdowns symptomatic of a failing democracy

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0): calls on PDRM to cease intimidations of activists and people in desperate situations, as ordinary citizens are told to not participate in the “White Flag” initiative. This is as Malaysia is still in the state of Emergency.

This abuse needs to stop

Coalition of 117 Malaysian artists and 54 arts organisations, Reformartsi: This is an overreaction and unreasonable strong-arm tactic, the intimidation is another grim episode in Malaysia’s long-running history of censorship.

Acts of censorship arise from a complex mix of different factors that tell us more about society than the censored work in question.

Serangan ke atas kebebasan bereskpresi

Aliran mengutuk serbuan polis dan serangan ke atas kebebasan berekspresi dan bersuara seperti yang dimaktub di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan:

Tindakan pihak berkuasa yang menggunakan kuasa sewenang-wenangnya merupakan sebuah bentuk penapisan yang pastinya tidak diterima baik oleh para penyokong hak asasi manusia serta mereka yang terlibat di dalam media dan seni.

Condemns suppression against artists

Filipino NGO DAKILA and Active Vista call on the Malaysian Police to cease their attempts at intimidation and to respect the freedom of expression of artists and human rights defenders:

As citizens also engaged in creative resistance against our own authoritarian regime, we are one with Anna, Amin, and every citizen across the globe struggling for truth, rights, and freedom!

Condemns reprisals, call for accountability

HAKAM condemns reprisals over police brutality claims, reiterate urgency for formation of IPCMC:

Unless we address human rights violations of torture as depicted in the film, our country will be soon ranked amongst those countries that defile with impunity human rights, good governance, accountability and transparency.

Kecam intimidasi polis ke atas penggiat seni yang mendesak perubahan

EDICT berpendapat tindakan pihak polis menyiasat para pendesak perubahan yang bercakap mengenai isu ini sebagai satu siasatan yang sia-sia dan membuang masa.

PDRM perlu menunjukkan sikap yang tegas dengan mengambil tindakan kepada para anggota yang terlibat melakukan penderaan dan melanggar etika serta tugas sebagai seorang anggota polis, bukannya menakut-nakutkan para pengkritik yang menegur salahlaku anggota polis.

Drop investigation and halt intimidation of activists

CIVICUS writing on behalf of five international civil society organisations with regards to our concerns around police investigations into at least six activists and human rights defenders around an animated film about torture in police custody to the Minister of Home Affairs of Malaysia.

We are extremely concerned about the probe into the six activists by the police for their work in creating awareness around police abuse. The right to freedom of opinion and expression includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers

Sign the Petition by HRFN

Stop investigation and intimidation of Malaysian FreedomFilmFest

FreedomFilmFest has been telling human rights stories exposing injustices faced by ordinary people to bring change. We see these investigation as a form of intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, including artists and storytellers.

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