Malaysia is probably not the first country you think of when it comes to human rights violations. When Najib Razak became PM in 2009 there was hope of a democratic transition. The list of promises and good intentions was long: elimination of ethnic preferences, reduction in police powers and the promotion of free and democratic elections. In reality he did just the opposite, as the crackdown on political opponents and their persecution testifies.
Anwar Ibrahim is the leading opposition figure and has been imprisoned on preposterous charges brought under the sedition law with the justification that he is a threat to national security. Even the wearing of yellow t-shirts as a sign of opposition is prosecuted. Also, the social democratic PM of Penang has been prosecuted on mysterious charges, probably because he is successfully running the region and the island in a democratic way and sharing economic prosperity.
The European Parliament adopted a motion in relation to the Anwar case - with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure on Malaysia - in December last year as it is not only about the prosecution of political opponents, it is also, like Razak as PM, paving the way for Islamists, many of whom have left the country, not for opposition, but as foreign fighters in Syria.
The international community should be alerted to these developments in the region and at the very least the corruption of Malaysia’s PM should be brought to the headlines. All those of us who stand for the defence and indivisibility of human rights are alert to the situation and are trying to get a better focus on Malaysia. Anwar is certainly amongst those who deserve one of the Silver Rose Awards that SOLIDAR delivers every year in the European Parliament, but it is more important to report on the developments in the country itself and to show the ruling party and its PM that prisoners are in the spotlight even if they are in the shadow of a dirty and shady prison.
Malaysia is an important trading partner and trading spot for the European Union. Again the question is about preference: free trade or human rights instead of free trade only if human rights are respected. Human Rights are indivisible, and as the Human Rights Declaration says: dignity and rights belong together!
Join us at this year’s Silver Rose Award ceremony to continue spreading the message and support the campaign to free Anwar Ibrahim – citizen of Malaysia!