Anwar Celebrates His 68th Birthday In Prison As The World Demands For His Freedom

Former world leaders and world-renowned academicians are lending their support to a global petition launched by PKR to call for the Opposition leader's release.

Cover image via Twitter @anwaribrahim

Today, 10 August, marks Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's 68th birthday as well as his 182nd day in prison after he was sentenced to a five-year term over sodomy charges

Anwar's family, including his wife Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughters Nurul Izzah, Nurul Nuha, Nurul Iman, and Nurul Hana, congregated at Sungai Buloh prison alongside several Opposition leaders as a show of solidarity Anwar earlier today

On Twitter and Facebook, Anwar's eldest daughter Nurul Izzah - who is also Lembah Pantai MP - lamented not being able to secure the release of their incarcerated father yet

Anwar's youngest daughter Nurul Hana, who was only 6 when her father was jailed for the first time in 1998, created a heartwarming video montage in commemoration of his 68th birthday

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has also launched a global petition to demand Anwar's freedom with support from former world leaders such as ex-US vice-president Al Gore, ex-UK PM Gordon Brown, and ex-Indonesian president Dr. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, all of whom believe that Anwar's imprisonment is a "politically motivated" act

From left: Al Gore, Gordon Brown, and Dr. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie.

Image via

The global petition that PKR released today on their de facto leader’s 68th birthday also lists prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan from Oxford University and American academic Noam Chomsky from Massachusetts Institute of Technology among the international signatories.

Also making the call with them in a joint statement released today are former Philippines president Joseph Estrada and Tunisian Ennahdah Movement leader Sheikh Rashid al-Ghannushi.

The group believed that Anwar's conviction and imprisonment are the outcome of an ongoing political conspiracy to end his political life and to deprive the opposition in Malaysia of its parliamentary leader.

"(We recall) that Anwar's unjust imprisonment on Feb 10, 2015, based on politically motivated charges, has been widely condemned internationally and Amnesty International has adopted Anwar Ibrahim as a prisoner of conscience," they said.

In a separate statement, a group of 38 globally-known activists and academicians also condemned the "political machinations behind Anwar's convictions", calling it "the beginning of an intense crackdown on freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly in the country"

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Among the 38 signatories are Noam Chomsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Tariq Ramadan (Oxford University), John L Esposito (Georgetown University), Francis Fukuyama (Stanford University), Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Drew University) and British author Karen Armstrong.

“The political machinations behind Anwar’s conviction are clear as Malaysian citizens who dared to criticise the outcome have been investigated and/or charged under the country’s draconian Sedition Act.

“Many see Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction as the beginning of an intense crackdown on freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly in the country.

“The crackdown, which is ongoing, has even extended to the social media. Numerous police investigations have been triggered over social media postings that are perceived to be critical of the government,” the statement by the group says.

The group went on to call on the authorities to release Anwar and uphold democracy in order for Malaysia to continue touting itself as a democratic country.

Several human rights organisastions, including Amnesty International and Article 19, released an open "solidarity statement" to bring attention to "serious doubts about the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary" and Anwar's health issues in prison, amongst other agendas

Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction on charges of sodomy on February 10, 2015, raised serious doubts about the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary. The irregularities in the proceedings appeared to chime with a long-standing effort by the ruling coalition to disqualify him from holding political office and from fulfilling his elected role as a Member of Parliament and leader of the opposition.

We also note with great concern Anwar Ibrahim’s deteriorating health and the difficulties he continues to face in receiving proper medical attention in Sungai Buloh Prison, Selangor State. Anwar Ibrahim’s poor detention conditions are indicative of wider problems within the Malaysian prison system.

We call on the Malaysian authorities to uphold the rule of law and human rights, in particular the right to a fair trial, including by ensuring that the judiciary is completely independent from the executive branch.

The open letter, undersigned by Amnesty International, Article 19, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), Global Bersih, and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), can be read in its entirety here.

Meanwhile, read what Anwar had to say about efforts to oust Najib:

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