Maria Chin Forced To Sleep On The Cement Floor In A Windowless Cell For 28 Days

She was arrested on Friday, 18 November.

Cover image via Twitter/ Zunar Cartoonist

BREAKING: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) confirms that Maria Chin Abdullah has been released

Maria Chin and lawyer Ambiga Sreenivasan

Image via Bersih 2.0

Bersih 2.0 posted an update on their official Twitter account at about 4:45pm today, 28 November that the organisation's leader, Maria Chin Abdullah has been released.

Minutes later, another tweet was posted saying that Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has confirmed that Maria has been released.

They also mentioned that they will still gather at Dataran Merdeka tonight at 8pm.

24 NOVEMBER: Peaceful candlelight vigil for Maria rudely interrupted by dead chicken smell

Image via Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini reported that almost 500 supporters that turned up last night were forced to put up with the foul smell emitted by the dead chicken.

"There were at least 10 dead chickens... they smelt like human waste, it's disgusting," said one of the supporters that only wanted to be identified as Liew, to Malaysiakini.

He then went on to pick up the carcasses and disposed it.

Bersih secretariat manager Mandeep Singh called it an "act of sabotage".

"Why do you need to throw the dead chickens here when they can be dumped in the dustbin?" he asked.

Today, 25 November onwards, Maria's supporters would start gathering at the Petaling Jaya library where a campaign will be launched for Maria's release.

We don't provide hotel-like comforts for detainees, reminds IGP

Image via NST

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar has once again stressed that Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah is not being ill treated at the police detention centre.

"(Why) windowless cell? Well, we don't provide hotel for the detainees, we don't provide a room like hotel facilities to a detainee.

"I have said whatever accorded to her is in accordance with lock-up rules, the Prison Act and all the standard operating procedures (SOP), according to international standards. There are SOPs, rules and procedures (for us) to adhere to," he explained at a press conference held at Bukit Aman today, 25 November, as reported by Malaysiakini.

"I will personally make sure that there will be no abuse," said Khalid.

Wanting to ensure the comforts of Maria, former Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu has bought a mattress, pillow, blanket, towels and other basic necessities for her

Former Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu

Image via Free Malaysia Today

"They are all in Bersih colours, in yellow," informed Ronnie to Malaysiakini yesterday, 24 November.

He also added that he has only bought basic supplies for Maria, stressing that people may say that she has the comforts of a hotel if he brings anything else over.

The toiletries and mattress will be brought over to Kem Batu, where Maria is being held by a few Bersih officers and Maria's family.

24 NOVEMBER: Maria wasn't arrested for any political reasons

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar

Image via The Malay Mail Online

In a report by New Straits Times yesterday, 23 November, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar explained that Maria's arrest and detention is related to a number of documents found in her office.

"On Nov 18, a police team raided the Bersih office and found the documents which gave police enough evidence. It led to Maria's arrest on the same day. Her arrest had nothing to do with the Bersih 5 rally," said the IGP at a press conference at KLIA yesterday, as reported by NST.

He said that the police found documents that proved to be an offense under Section 124(C) of the Penal Code for attempting to commit an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

Khalid also mentioned the fact that Maria has admitted to receiving funds for Bersih from George Soros, the Open Society Foundation chairman.

The IGP also denied that the authorities are ill treating Maria and said that she is being treated the same way they treat other detainees.

"Allegedly she was not given a mattress. She has to request for it, lah. I did not get any information that she did request it," added the IGP who said that she had only requested for a mattress yesterday.

However, Bersih 2.0 has denied any possession of documents that threaten to disrupt the parliamentary democracy

"The IGP’s claim that there were so-called documents discovered during at the raid, is outrageous and has no basis whatsoever," said Bersih in a statement, adding that no documents seized during the arrest would justify Maria's arrest.

"Bersih 2.0 is fully aware of what documents were taken from the office. It is absurd to suggest that documents belonging to us can be linked to a threat to security," stressed the electoral reform group.

They also said that they were given a list of items that were seized from the Bersih office and none of it shows that they was planning to commit an activity that is detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

"Bersih 2.0 is an organisation dedicated to electoral reforms and good governance; these allegations now repeated by the IGP are baseless slander upon Bersih and the millions of Malaysians who support it.

"Since the IGP claims that there is such evidence, we hereby challenge the IGP to produce the so-called evidence. Let the public evaluate the evidence for themselves. Does he dare?" added the statement.

The Bersih leader's arrest has gotten so much recognition and flak to the point that even the US government has expressed their concern over her incarceration

"We are troubled by the ongoing detention and solitary confinement of Maria Chin Abdullah under national security laws," said Alicia Edwards, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, in an emailed statement to Reuters on 23 November.

The statement also mentioned how the US is "concerned" about the mass arrest of local activists, organisers and politicians just hours before the Bersih 5 rally last Saturday.

"The United States remains committed to the strong and growing partnership we have with Malaysia. In the spirit of that partnership, US officials routinely and strongly voice our concerns about the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms with the government of Malaysia, and we will continue to do so," added Edwards, as reported by Straits Times on 23 November.

23 NOVEMBER, 2.30pm: Suhakam confirms that Maria is being held in solitary confinement and forced to sleep on a wooden bed

Maria Chin Abdullah

Image via My Sin Chew

English daily, The Malay Mail Online reported that Suhakam has released a statement saying that Bersih's leader Maria Chin Abdullah is indeed being held in solitary confinement without a bed.

The human rights watch was able to make the conclusion based on their visit to the undisclosed location where she is being held.

"The so-called bed has no mattress and she has to wash with cold water. She indicated that she would like a mattress at the very least to cushion the discomfort of the wooden bed.

"Maria Chin Abdullah has also requested for a copy of the Quran and reading materials, as well as to be able to see her children and family," it said in a statement.

The report also further stated that a medical doctor is on standby in case Maria encounters any health issues.

Despite the menial conditions of her cell, it was stated that she did not complain about it and appeared to be in good health and informed that she has been interrogated by the authorities for a good three hours since her untimely arrest on Friday, 18 November.

23 NOVEMBER, 11.30am: Bersih can't hold candlelight vigils for Maria at Dataran Merdeka anymore

As part of their efforts to fight for the release of Maria Chin, Bersih have been holding nightly candlelight vigils at the Dataran Merdeka, vowing to continue with it till the authorities release her.

Last night, about a 1,000 people turned up for the candlelight vigil at Dataran Merdeka and in the midst of that a notice popped up on the electronic screen at the Merdeka Square that read:

"The Kuala Lumpur mayor has closed the whole of Dataran Merdeka starting from November 22, 2016, until November 29, 2016, from 5pm till 7am every day.

"Any person who remains on Dataran Merdeka or refuses to follow the order can be expelled from Dataran Merdeka," read the announcement as reported by Malay Mail Online yesterday, 22 November.

However, no particular reason was given for the 8-day closure of Dataran Merdeka.

Following the notice, Malaysiakini reported that the organisers and crowd peacefully shifted to the nearby Jalan Raja at about 8.45pm as a group of police officers kept watch nearby.

It was also reported that as mentioned earlier, a habeas corpus has been filed for the release of Maria and that the hearing for the case is set for tomorrow, 23 November.

In the midst of nightly candlelight vigils, several photos surfaced on Facebook about how women are walking to the parliament this morning demanding the release of Maria Chin

One Facebook user, Azrul Mohd Khalib posted a number of photos along with a status that read:

"The continued detention of Maria Chin Abdullah has given Bersih a post-rally cause would never have happened if the police hadn't treated her this way. The sight of yellow t-shirts continue to be part of the KL landscape as people voice out their outrage and give their support for Maria."

"This morning, women from different ethnicities, communities and backgrounds are walking to the Parliament calling for her freedom."

22 NOVEMBER: Candlelight vigils will be held everyday until Maria Chin is released

Bersih 2.0 made the announcement yesterday, 21 November.

The candlelight vigils will be held at 8pm, every night at the Dataran Merdeka as the organisation's call for the release of its chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and the abolition of the SOSMA act.

"As part of our campaign, Bersih 2.0 calls on all Malaysians to join us in solidarity at 8pm every night at Dataran Merdeka until Maria is released," the group’s steering committee said in a statement here.

"We need to send a strong collective message that Maria’s detention and inhumane treatment is an egregious breach of human rights and will not be accepted in a free and democratic society," said Bersih 2.0 in a statement that was released yesterday.

They also informed that the campaign for Maria's release will include international lobbying, forums and memorandums.

Image via Borneo Today

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also graced the vigil with his presence and support along with his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah at about 8.55pm, yesterday

Tun Dr Mahathir and wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah at the candlelight vigil for Maria last night.

Image via Facebook/ Teresa Kok

He encouraged the public to continue with #BebasMaria and #MansuhSOSMA protest until the Bersih leader is released from her "torturous" solitary confinement.

"We were told that Maria has been put into solitary confinement where she is kept in a small uncomfortable room.

"It is torture and against the law to put her in detention. I'm sad that she was put into that cell. So continue with this protest until Maria is released," said Dr Mahathir.

Maria's three young sons - Azumin, Aziman and Azemi Yunus were also at the protest last night and thanked the public and lawyers that were fighting for the release of their mother.

"My mother is a very strong person. If you're trying to break her will, no you won't," added Aziman, as reported by The Sun Daily today, 22 November.

According to the English daily, about 500 people including NGO leaders and opposition politicians were at the candlelight vigil last night.

Activist and graphic designer's show of support for Maria Chin's release.

Image via Facebook/ Fahmi Reza

21 NOVEMBER: Bersih leader Maria Chin will be held under the iron clad Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) for 28 days.

SOSMA, which was enacted to fight terrorism allows the authorities to hold individuals without any trial for 28 days and deny legal aid for two days.

Image via NST

This news was confirmed by lawyer Eric Paulsen during a meeting at the Dang Wangi police station on Sunday, 20 November.

Also present during the afternoon meeting were lawyers Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and R. Sivarasa.

"So far she’s only been there for a couple of days, so she is still in high spirits," said Paulsen.

He added that Maria is currently being held at an undisclosed detention center.

Lawyer Eric Paulsen

Image via The Sun Daily

"She was happy that Bersih was a success, and told everyone to carry on with the reform agenda. She vows to challenge her detention," stressed Paulsen.

Maria was arrested by the police on Friday, 18 November, less than 24 hours before the Bersih rally was scheduled to start on Saturday at 10am.

She was picked up by the authorities when they raided the Bersih office in Petaling Jaya on Friday evening. At the time of arrest, the police said that she was being arrested under Section 147 of the Penal Code which falls under offences against public tranquility.

Section 147 is basically punishment for rioting.

During the Bersih 5 rally on Saturday, most of the Bersih leaders and key activists, including Marina Mahathir, slammed the government for arresting Maria along with 5 other politicians and 3 activists prior to the rally

Calling it a breach of democracy and human rights, activists slammed the mass arrest in their speeches on Bersih 5 day.

What's worse is that Bersih 2.0 said yesterday that Maria is being held in an "ISA style" quarters.

"Maria Chin Abdullah is being held in solitary confinement in a 15x8 cell with two light bulbs turned on 24 hours. Cell has no windows, no bed, only cement floor and a hard slab of wood," read Bersih 2.0 official Facebook page.

The eight that were arrested on Friday are:

1) Safwan Anang, Bersih steering committee member
2) Mandeep Singh, Bersih steering committee member
3) Muhammad Luqman Nul Hakim Zul Razali, student activist
4) S Arutchelvan, PSM committee member
5) Wong Chee Wai @ Jimmy Wong, DAP member
6) Lee Khai Ming, DAP member
7) Anis Syafiqah, TangkapMO1 spokesperson
8) Ronnie Liu, Selangor DAP exco member

All eight were released yesterday evening as their remand have expired.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan said that Maria wants the people to keep fighting for a better Malaysia.

"We will be filing habeas corpus on Monday or Tuesday at the latest," said Ambiga.

Ambiga Sreenevasan

Image via Kamles Kumar via The Malay Mail Online

"We managed to see Maria. She was allowed to see her family. She is in solitary confinement. It is like the Internal Security Act (ISA) all over again," said Ambiga who is also Maria's lawyer.

"Our freedom is meaningless because Maria is still behind bars for showing her love for the country. Sosma must be abolished immediately," added Mandeep.

More Bersih 5 stories here:

You may be interested in: