Malaysia: Police question activist Fadiah again, human rights groups raise concerns
January 7, 2019, 8:43 am
Activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri was questioned today by the police in regards to a forum discussing a review of Malaysia’s history textbooks held in July.
This the second time the police have recorded her statement, the first time being in September, following a police report lodged by an NGO Gerakan Islam Muslimah Malaysia against her regarding the forum.
During a media conference held at the Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) office in Petaling Jaya today, human rights group raised concerns over activists being ‘targeted’ by the police.
Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni (below) said Amnesty is concerned about the continued harassment Fadiah has been receiving from the authorities and called for a stop to the harassment against activists.
“The forum that Fadiah was speaking at a few months ago was an academic discourse. It was to discuss Malaysia’s history in a space which should have been provided for to encourage that kind of conversation, debate, and critical thinking into Malaysia’s history.
“And that is what the freedom of expression is. It is a place for debate to happen. While there can be voices that agree and disagree, the space should have been protected and safe in order for the discourse to happen in the first place,” she said.
In July, Fadiah was a panelist in a forum in Kuala Lumpur which was hijacked by certain people who were against the discussion which Fadiah said was held in relations to People’s History of Malayan Emergency where they commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Malayan Emergency.
Fadiah said that she explained to two police officers who visited her at the Suaram office in Petaling Jaya today about the heated argument that broke out between organisers and a group of protesters during the forum.
“Some people, whom we did not know, came and started shouting and hurling racist remarks saying that we were trying to advocate communism in Malaysia.
“The organisers and speakers managed to calm everyone down and at the end of the forum, one of them apologised.
“They said that they accepted our explanation that this is a discourse about history and that we should not make racist remarks.
“We had explained that we should actually listen to this part of history, which is important to our country in order to address some of problems that we have, for example, racism and inequality,” she said.
Suaram project coordinator Mohammad Alshatri said that activists should be given the freedom to express their opinions in public spaces without intimidation from anyone.
“In Fadiah’s case, when there’s an intimidation, the police should investigate thoroughly, not simply target certain individuals who were contributing to the forum itself,” he said, adding that Suaram will craft a protection mechanism to be proposed to the government so that activists can express themselves publicly without feeling threatened.
Fadiah reiterated that she will continue to speak up as an activist despite receiving intimidation and threats from certain quarters.
“The fear is there because I’m human. I fear for the safety of my family too. Some netizens commented that they would kill or rape me. But I think my responsibility is bigger than my fear and I’m going to deal with it,” she said.
Earlier, in July, she was also questioned twice by police regarding her controversial column she published in a blog Malaysia Muda, as well as on the vigil held in solidarity with her in front of the Brickfields district police headquarters