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Malaysia 18 April 2002

RSF appeals for the release of journalist on hunger strike

image 99 x 142 (JPEG)  Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) has written to the Minister of Home Affairs, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, calling for the release of Malaysian journalist Hishamuddin Rais who, along with five other prisoners of conscience, has been on hunger strike since 10 April 2002. "After a year of arbitrary detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), this hunger strike movement cannot fail to attract your attention and encourage you to release this journalist who has done nothing more than exercise his right to seek, receive and impart information", states Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of RSF.

During a press conference given in Paris on 16 April by the Malaysian Minister of Information, Khalil bin Yaakob, a representative of RSF asked the Minister whether the government intended to release the journalist on hunger strike. The Minister replied that he was "not aware" of the hunger strike and said that people detained under the ISA "were being held for good reasons".

According to information gathered by RSF, Hishamuddin Rais, contributor to the on-line newspaper Malaysiakini.com and documentary film-maker, began a hunger strike on 10 April 2002, along with five other dissidents who have been detained for a year under the ISA. The journalist is being held in the Kamunting prison in Perak. Along with his five companions, members of opposition movements, he is accused of having "plotted to overthrow" the government. They were all sentenced, without trial, to two years in prison.




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