‘Illegitimate’ Comango funded by foreign powers, alleges Muslim NGOs

The MuslimUPRo umbrella NGO group has tried to paint human rights lobbyist as illegitimate, in bid to gain attention at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Pictured is Mohd Aizam Mas’od, Assistant Director of Akidah, Research Division, JAKIM Putrajaya. — Picture by Zurairi AR
The MuslimUPRo umbrella NGO group has tried to paint human rights lobbyist as illegitimate, in bid to gain attention at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Pictured is Mohd Aizam Mas’od, Assistant Director of Akidah, Research Division, JAKIM Putrajaya. — Picture by Zurairi AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — A coalition of Muslim groups accused human rights lobbyist Comango of being an illegitimate and foreign-funded organisation, in a move believed timed for Malaysia’s turn at the United Nations (UN) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) tonight.

The attack by the Muslim NGOs banding together under the MuslimUPRo umbrella comes as it vied for attention from UN members in Geneva, Switzerland against the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) in the UPR this week, several days ahead of the review.

“Comango has articulated its demands without respecting the position of Islam as the religion of the federation, and has purposely confused Malaysians (to show) as if Malaysia is a secular country that puts every religion on an equal position,” said a MuslimUPRo memorandum dated October 22.

“Comango’s action is meant to put any policies and laws enacted by the government or religious councils under the regulation and purview of the UNHRC,” it said, referring to the UN Human Rights Council.

The memorandum was drafted by Azril Mohd Amin, the vice-president of Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PPPM), and head of the MuslimUPRo.

It was signed by 27 Islamic and Muslim NGOs including Perkasa, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA), Jati, Muafakat, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM), and Pembela.

Comango’s 22-page report touches issues such as the administration of justice; freedom of religion, expression and participation; rights to work, health and education; indigenous and migrants’ rights; and discrimination involving sexual orientation and race.

The coalition is made of 54 NGOs, which also included Amnesty International Malaysia, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Tenaganita, and Seksualiti Merdeka.

In the memorandum, MuslimUPRo claimed that only 12 societies under Comango are registered under the Registrar of Societies (RoS), while the rest are not and as such any dealings with them are illegal under Section 6 of the Societies Act.

“Their voices and demands do not represent the majority of Malaysian citizens, in addition some of the unregistered societies’ pioneers have operated illegitimately for decades,” said MuslimUPRo.

“Some of them have even purposely created a business entity under the Registrar of Companies in order to get foreign funding to fund their evil demands to betray the religion of the federation.”

MuslimUPRo did not specify details of the alleged foreign funding, however, but instead urged Putrajaya to probe the issue.

The NGOs have stepped up its attacks in the last week before the UPR, with a seminar on the “threat of liberalism” allegedly championed by Comango, organised by Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) on Saturday.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) also said in its Friday sermon last week that complaints of human rights abuses against Malaysia are not genuine, and are part of a masquerade to push the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) agenda to undermine Islam.

Held every four and a half years, the UPR is a UNHRC mechanism that was established in 2007 to improve the treatment of human rights in all 193 UN member states. Malaysia is currently a member of UNHRC, the second time after a term in 2009.

The process involves a three-hour interactive dialogue, where UNHRC members will question Malaysia based on reports prepared by the government, UN agencies, and the stakeholders’ report ― which summarises the report of NGOs both national and international.