By Teo Soh Lung
According to the latest press release of the Ministry of Home Affairs, “Since 2002, over 80 persons have been detained for terrorism-related activities. There are currently 17 persons placed on Orders of Detention, two on Suspension Directions and 25 on Restriction Orders under the ISA” (6 Oct 16)
I have been tracking the press releases of the ministry and note that people arrested, detained or repatriated are never promptly reported. Very often, it takes months for the ministry to inform the public of who has been arrested, detained, released or repatriated. The mainstream media occasionally regurgitate these press releases. Investigative journalism is absent.
In the latest press release, the ministry omitted the number of people arrested in 2001, the year the World Trade Centre was bombed and President George Bush went on a witch hunt resulting in an even more violent world and the torture and death of innocent people in Guantanamo Prison and elsewhere. In that notorious prison, prisoners were brutally treated without the president having to answer for his crimes. Many are still wasting their lives there today even though President Obama promised to close down the prison before the end of his presidency.
I am curious to know why the ministry omitted the number of people detained in 2001. Maybe it has pulped the files. According to my record, at least 16 people were detained and many of them released only after years. We know nothing about them for the present. Maybe we will know their side of the story after 40 years when they write their memoirs.
The ministry revealed that “over 80 persons have been detained for terrorism-related activities”. I assume that this figure takes into account only those who have been served with detention orders. This is disturbing because a person arrested under the ISA can be subjected to interrogation and torture for 30 days and more. It is usually on the 30th day (though there can be exceptions) that a detention order or restriction order is issued.
The Internal Security Department however, is permitted to technically release the prisoner outside the prison gate on the 30th day and immediately rearrest him. He will then be subjected to a further 30 days of interrogation and torture. This practice has happened in the past. I know of a person who was imprisoned for 90 days without a detention order. His case will not be included as a person detained.
The Internal Security Act (ISA) regime is very different from the ordinary criminal law regime. It does not observe the rule of law and respect the international obligation to try every accused person in open court.
Every person arrested under our ordinary criminal laws must be produced and charged in open court within 48 hours. It used to be 24 hours until the 1984. A ISA prisoner is never produced in court and never charged for any offence.
As long as the prime minister and his cabinet are of the view that he is to be detained, he is detained. He is never given an opportunity to defend the vague allegations made against him by our secret police. No evidence needs to be produced to warrant his imprisonment. And he can be imprisoned for an indefinite period of time.
Our world record is 32 years.
So how many people have been detained by our secret police since 2001? My estimate is 132. This figure includes a handful of rearrests.
I consider any person arrested under the ISA as being detained because 30 days is a very long time especially when the person is subjected to interrogation and torture and is disallowed visits by lawyers and family members.
Finally, according to the ministry, there are 17 persons in prison today. My record shows 18. Maybe the ministry can tell me who among my list has been released. They are:
- Haji Ibrahim bin Haji Maidin arrested in Dec 2001.
- Alahuddeen bin Abdullah arrested in Oct 2002.
- Mohd Aslam bin Yar Ali Khan arrested in Dec 2002.
- Mas Selamat bin Kastari rearrested in Sept 2010.
- Abdul Rahimbin Abdul Rahman arrested in Feb 2012.
- Husaini bin Ismail arrested in May 2012.
- Asyrani bin Hussaini arrested in Mar 2013.
- Masyhadi Mas Selamat arrested in Oct 2013.
- M Arifil Azim Putra Norja’i arrested in Apr 2015.
- Mustafa bin Sultan Ali arrested in Jun 2015.
- Muhammad Shamin bin Mohamed Sidek arrested in Jul 2015.
- Muhammad Harith Jailani arrested in Jul 2015.
- Amiruddin bin Sawir arrested in Jul 2015.
- Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid reaearrested in Mar 2016.
- Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff arrested in Jun 2016.
- Mohamed Saiddhin bin Abdullah arrested in Jun 2016.
- Rosli bin Hamzah arrested in Jul 2016.
- Mohamed Omar bin Mahadi arrested in Jul 2016.