KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah is being held in solitary confinement and denied a bed as she previously alleged, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) confirmed today.
Suhakam said it verified this during a visit to the undisclosed location where Maria is being detained for 28 days under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.
The commission added that while Maria appeared to be in good health and the cleanliness of her cell was acceptable, the conditions were as she had described to her lawyers on Sunday.
“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.
Suhakam did not comment on other aspects of Maria’s allegations such as the cell being windowless or that two lights were kept permanently lit.
The commission said its delegation to inspect Maria's cell and conditions was led by chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail.
Authorities informed the commission that a medical doctor was available at all times to attend to the Bersih 2.0 chief's medical needs.
Maria also did not complain of any ill-treatment by her captors, but informed Suhakam that she has only been interrogated for three hours since being arrested on Friday.
The commission thanked the authorities for facilitating the inspection on short notice, but insisted that they must release Maria from the preventive detention.
“Suhakam continues to hold the position that Maria Chin Abdullah is unjustifiably incarcerated and would like to reiterate that in accordance with Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile,” the commission said.
Police detained Maria on November 18 under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, and invoked the Sosma for the arrest.
The law permits the police to hold individuals for up to 28 days without trial.
Outrage over Maria’s detention under the Sosma was further exacerbated by her allegation that she was being held in a permanently lit and windowless cell measuring 15x8 feet, conditions that the Malaysian Bar have called “oppressive, inhumane and degrading”.