383 (1st Floor), Jalan 5/59, Petaling Gardens,

46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor,

Malaysia Tel: 603-77843525, 77820357 Fax: 603-77843526

URGENT APPEAL : 8TH. Februari 2001 4 SHIA FOLLOWERS ARRESTED UNDER ISA PURELY ON THE GROUNDS OF THEIR FAITH Introduction : Since October 2000, we have information that six persons have been arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA). Two people have been released since then in which one has been released on condition. Out of the remaining four, three have been sent to Kamunting detention center on a two year detention order whereas one more person is undergoing the initial sixty days detention period.

The actual reason of their detention in not known and there has been no press news on this detention. Family members contacted say that they do not know anything about their detention order. It is believed that they have been arrested under the ISA because they are followers of the Shia teachings, a sect within the Muslim community. We are led to believe that these people were detained purely on the grounds of their faith.

Those Arrested: Below are the details off those still in detention: 1) Name: Mr. Norman Basha Age: 42 Occupation: Site Construction worker Date of arrest: 13 October 2000 Nature of arrest: He was arrested and handcuffed in his own office. He was then brought back to his own house where police confiscated some religious books. Current Status: After his 60 days detention, he has been sent to Kamunting Detention Center to serve a two-year detention order.

2) Name: Mr. Zainal bin Talib Age : In his 40s Occupation: Businessman Date of arrest: 13 October 2000 Current Status: After his 60 days detention, he has been sent to Kamunting detention center to serve a two year detention order

3) Name: Mr Mahadi Asab Age: In his 40s Occupation: Self employed Date of arrest : Between 13 -20 October 2000 Current Status : Sent to Kamunting

4) Name: Syed Hassan Al-Atttas Age : 36 Occupation: Self Employed Date of arrest : Early January 2001 Current Status: Serving his 60 days detention Those arrested and released later: 1) Name: Mustafa Bin Safar Age: 28 Occupation: Own Businessman Date of arrest: Arrested on 13 October 2000. He served his 60 days detention order and was released under one-year restriction order in Gombak district. Current Status: One year restricted in the district of Gombak. 2) Name: Syed Mokhtar Al-Hadad Age : 42 Occupation: Businessman Date of arrest: He was informed about his arrest under ISA in KLIA. He was later arrested at his house on November 5th. 2000. Current Status: Released without condition

Background of Shia Muslims like other religious groupings are divided into several mazhabs (sects). The two main mazhabs in the world today are the Sunni who are the majority and this is followed by the Shia, who amount to one third of Muslims in the world. The Shias are concentrated in West Asian countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and also in Iran. Shia manifestation as a school of thought dated back to the early history of Islam just after the passing away of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.

In this part of the region and countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, most Muslims belong to the Sunni mazhabs. Shia in Malaysia only amount to around two to three thousand people. The crackdown on the Shia community is not the first one. In November 1997, 10 people were arrested under the ISA for alleged grounds of practicing Shia Islam. Those who were released early in 1997 were told to renounce their Shia faith and to revert to the Sunni Sect as a pre-condition of their release from ISA. The reason of arrest according to the police then was " activities prejudicial to national security and Muslim unity".

The Shia mazhab has never been declared as illegal nor its teaching deviationist in Malaysia. If it was deemed that their teaching are deviant, then they should be tried in the Syariah court(Islamic court) and not the ISA.

Background of the Internal Security Act (ISA) The ISA was enacted in 1960 and was indeed a continuation of an earlier Act, which also provides detention without trial. Thousands of people of all races, religion and walks of life have been detained under this Act.

The ISA violates fundamental rights and provides for 'preventative detention' without trial for an indefinite period. The act violated the rights to defend one self and is constantly used against people who criticize the government and defend human rights. The Act is also and instrument maintained by the government to control our public life and civil society.

The ISA allows the Minister of Home Affairs to order indefinitely detention without charge of trial of any person suspected of threatening national security in Malaysia. The police can detain any person without warrant, for an investigation period of up to 60 days. The Home minister may issue detention order of up to two years, renewable indefinitely.

In recent times, the ISA has been used constantly on several religious groups. In 1996, ISA was used to crush the Al-Arqam movement and its members. This was followed by the Shia crackdown in 1997. Last year, the ISA was used on followers of Al-Muanah. Currently, there are 76 people detained under the Internal Security Act. Opposition to the use of ISA have increased over the years. Last year, 71 organisations including all opposition parties have called for this Act to be repealed.

Related Local and International Laws, Conventions on Detention Without Trial in relation to this subject:

Federal Constitution, Article 5: Liberty of a person The constitution provides a guarantee against arbitrary arrest and detention without trial. Article 11: Freedom of religion Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion

Malaysian Charter on Human Rights Article 12: Rights to personal security Everyone has the right to live in peace and free from fear of arbitrary arrest and detention without fair and public trial.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his right and obligations and of any criminal charge against them. Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this rights includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief of teachings, practice, worship and observance.

Action Required : Please send letters, faxes and telegrams on the arrest of the four 1) Express your concern on the continuous use of the ISA 2) Stop all kind of harassment against the Shia community in Malaysia. 3) Urge for the immediate release without condition of the four persons from ISA detention and charge them in an open court for any alleged offences. 4) Urging the release of full information to the public on the grounds off their detention 5) Calling the Government to repeal the ISA and all other laws allowing for detention without trial.

Please Make Your Appeals To:

Ybhg Tan Sri Musa Hitam,

Chairperson Malaysian Human Rights Commission

29th. Floor, Menara Tun Razak,

Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur,

Malaysia. Fax: 603-26125620


Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Home Minister,

Menteri Dalam Negeri, Jalan Dato Onn,

50502 Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia

Fax: 603-2301051

Ms Mary Robinson Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Palais des Nations 8-14 avenue de la Paix,

CH 1211 Geneve Switzerland


Fax: (41) 22 9170213

Note : Please also send a copy of your appeal to SUARAM for our documentation.

Email Fax : 603-77843526