At FORUM-ASIA, we employ a range of strategies to effectively achieve our goals and create a lasting impact.

Through a diverse array of approaches, FORUM-ASIA is dedicated to achieving our objectives and leaving a lasting imprint on human rights advocacy.

Who we work with

Our interventions are meticulously crafted and ready to enact tangible change, addressing pressing issues and empowering communities.

Each statements, letters, and publications are meticulously tailored, poised to transform challenges into opportunities, and to empower communities towards sustainable progress.

Multimedia Stories

With a firm commitment to turning ideas into action, FORUM-ASIA strives to create lasting change that leaves a positive legacy for future generations.

Explore our dedicated sub-sites to witness firsthand how FORUM-ASIA turns ideas into action, striving to create a legacy of lasting positive change for future generations.

Subscribe our monthly e-newsletter

Malaysia: The violation of freedom of assembly must stop immediately

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

International Human Rights Day this year was marred by arrests of Malaysian dissenting voices for speaking out against the malpractices of Badawi’s administration. FORUM-ASIA released an open letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia to condemn the denial of the freedom of assembly and expression.

(Bangkok) The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) today released an open letter to Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, condemning a series of arrest of human rights defenders taking part in public rallies since 10 November 2007 onward.

In the letter, Mr. Anselmo Lee, the Executive Director notes that the arrests took place on UN International Human Rights Day where nine individuals who took part in the peaceful walk in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday 9 December were arrested.1 Later, on 11 December, at least 24 human rights defenders2 were reportedly arrested while trying to submit a memorandum to the Parliament regarding BERSIH’s demand for electoral reform.

The open letter expresses that the moves by authorities wherein the Prime Minister serves as the Minister of Internal Security has clearly breached human rights standards embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) where article 20(1) of the UDHR stipulated that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

Mr. Lee also expresses deep shock incited by the current rising trend of arrests and attempts to create a backlash against peaceful demonstrators including the sweeping statement by Prime Minister Date Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Cabinet Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz that the demonstrators organised by HINDRAF could be linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), creating a culture of fear for Malaysians wanting to exercise their rights to freedom of assembly.3 “We are also extremely disturbed by your implication that the draconian Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial, could be used against the demonstrators”, said Mr. Lee.

The open letter also reminded Malaysia of the recently signed ASEAN Charter which includes the promotion and protection of human rights as an explicit purpose of ASEAN. “As a founding member of ASEAN, Malaysia’s actions only act to further discredit this intergovernmental organisation and undermine the community of caring nations that the Charter is attempting to establish”, read the open letter.

Finally, FORUM-ASIA demands that the Malaysian government bring an end to the series of violations against freedom of assembly and arrest of demonstrations. The open letter reminded Malaysia, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to be ashamed of its policies designed to silence human rights defenders working to promote and protect human rights in the country and individuals exercising their rights.

The open letter was also copied to the relevant UN representative/Special Procedures including:

  • Homayoun Alizadeh, Regional Representative for Southeast Asia, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Hina Jilani, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation on human rights defenders
  • Ambeyi Ligabo, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
  • Leila Zerrougui, President/Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention


For further information, please contact:

Anselmo Lee, Executive Director, e-mail [email protected] , +66 2 3918801 (ext 501);
Pokpong Lawansiri, Southeast Asia Sub-region Programme Officer, e-mail [email protected] , +6686 603 8844


1 Individuals arrested: Sivarasa Rasiah, N. Surendran, Amer Hamzah, Eric Paulsen, Anthony Andu, Noorazah Othman, Latheefa Koya, Asraf Ali bin Sadah Kastullah and Edmund Bon
2 Name of people arrested (some released) on 11 December are: S. Arutchelvan, Sivarajan Arumugam, Dr. Nasir Hashim, Tian Chua, Dr. Hatta Muhd Ramli, Abdul Razak Ismail, Dr Lo’ Lo’ Hj Muhd Ghazali, Ang Hiok Gai, Nurida Md Salleh, Sabri Shafie, Hashim Awang, Azira Ariffin, Nasruddin Hassan Tentawi, Abdul Muhaimin Roslan (13 years old), Muhd Badillah Muda, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, Yap Swee Seng, Wong Chin Huat, V. Gayathry, Mien Lor, Mokhtar Rozaidi and Norashimah
3 Malaysian PM considering detention of Indian activists: report. AFP, 9 December 2007.