'ISA detainees too scared to complain of torture'

Internal Security Act detainees claiming to have been "tortured" during their initial 60-day remand period are not likely to have complained to the ISA advisory board as the hearings are not "confidential".

nurul izzah pc 050112 tian chuaFormer ISA detainee Tian Chua (left) said this is because besides the board members present, the hearings are also attended by investigating officers and members of the police special branch.

"(The detainees) are in a situation where they don't know whether they can trust the people in the room. These are not people of their choice, not members of Amnesty International, Suaram or their family members.

"It can be a very intimidating process," said Tian Chua, the MP for Batu and a PKR vice-president who had been detained in 2001 for his involvement in the reformasi movement.
azlanCommenting on the police denial of the torture of ISA detainees and their argument that the advisory board has not heard of any complaint of torture by the present batch of detainees, Tian Chua said the detainees were often "advised" to "behave".

"A lot of people understand this as being told, 'Don't say anything bad about the government, the system or the police'. So the people say that they support the government, that they have repented," he said.
He noted that while the reformasi detainees had used the advisory board hearings as a platform to condemn the hearing as a farce, others saw it as their only hope for freedom.

"There is no talk of dignity in there. People will beg their way out for freedom. This is their only access to the home minister and they will say anything in the hope the home minister will take pity and show compassion for them," Tian Chua said when contacted.

Lawyer says he was threatened

Lawyer Afiq M Noor, who represented detainee Mustawan Ahbab at a board hearing last week, confirmed that police personnel were present in the room.

Afiq said the board chairperson, Badariah Hassan, used the presence of the police personnel to directly threaten him.

"When we spoke against the ISA, Badariah told us she knew where we came from and that we should watch out as there are many SB people (special branch personnel) around," he said.

Most of the detainees, Afiq added, were not represented. Some had told lawyers that camp officials had discouraged legal representation and told the detainees that lawyers would charge them RM10,000.

NONE"The detainees would get five minutes or less to say their piece... Most whom we met have no faith in the board as they know that the final decision rests with the home minister," Afiq said.

His colleague Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (left), who is representing several other ISA detainees, said the "confessions" referred to by the police in their denial were likely to have been signed under duress.

She said her clients claimed that they never saw the statements that they were made to sign after they were "kicked about". 

Stretched confessions

Corroborating this, former detainee Yazid Sufaat, who was released in 2008 after being held for seven years, told Malaysiakini said that he refused to sign his purported confession statement.

NONE"I read it during the first advisory board hearing... I stopped at the first page. It was just too much... I didn't attend a single board hearing after that," Yazid (right) said, claiming that his words were stretched beyond recognition.

"A friend of mine who was also detained told me that even he felt scared when he read his so-called confession statement. So, can you imagine what the home minister would feel?"

Malaysiakini on Monday reported that fresh allegations of harrowing torture have emerged from the Kamunting detention camp, where the last batch of ISA detainees are being held.

However, police have denied these claims, saying they have no medical records of injuries and neither has the advisory board heard any complaints of torture. 

Calling the claims "baseless" and "malicious", the police also noted that all the detainees had confessed to the crimes they were allegedly held for.

The 45 detainees are being held for alleged involvement in human trafficking, terrorism and document forgery and must serve outtheir detention orders despite the repeal of the ISA.

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