Human Rights Watch Asia has slammed the Malaysian police’s move to raid the office of satire cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Alhaque, better known as Zunar, and to seize copies of his books as a further assault on freedom of expression.
Published: 28 January 2015 7:35 PM
The watchdog’s deputy director Phil Robertson said the raid and seizure which took place today while Zunar was abroad, was “shocking and outrageous” as there was “absolutely no justification for this act of censorship”.
“Zunar’s books should be returned to him and any consideration of charges against him immediately dropped,” he said in a statement today.
Two policemen had gone to Zunar’s office, which shares the same premises as PKR’s party organ, Suara Keadilan, at around 10.30am this morning. About an hour later, four more police officers came and they proceeded to seize a total of 149 books.
The books were the English and Bahasa Malaysia versions of “Conspiracy to imprison Anwar” and “Pirates of the Carry BN”.
Zunar in a brief statement later said the confiscation of the books were done under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code, and that he would be called to the police station upon his return to Malaysia.
Robertson said Malaysia’s use of the Sedition Act had raised fundamental questions about whether the government was seeking to cement its power through police action to silence dissenters.
He urged people who cared about human rights and democracy in Malaysia to stand up and demand that the government stopped using “wrecking ball tactics” on activists and members of the political opposition.
“Human Rights Watch proudly gave a Hellman Hammett award for defenders of free expression to Zunar in 2011, and we will continue to stand by him as he fights for his rights,” he added.
Zunar, who is current in London and scheduled to speak at universities there, had earlier today tweeted the news about his office being raided and the books seized.
He is the subject of an ongoing police investigation after being detained in 2010 under the Sedition Act. – January 28, 2015.