Families of DAP Sosma detainees claim police intimidation, seek Suhakam aid

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy (fourth left) handing over a memorandum to Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph (centre) in Kuala Lumpur November 25, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy (fourth left) handing over a memorandum to Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph (centre) in Kuala Lumpur November 25, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — The families and friends of two DAP lawmakers detained under a security law pending trial for their alleged links to a defunct terror group today accused the police of intimidation and even attempting to solicit bribes.

In a group visit to the office of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), the group, accompanied by social rights group Suaram, claimed to have received repeated calls from people describing themselves as police officers who want them to stop holding solidarity vigils for the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) detainees.

“I received three phone calls at about 11pm last month from a private number as I stood outside the Bukit Aman headquarters for the release of my husband.  

“In the first phone call, a person who only identified himself as a senior officer, told me that I and fellow protesters were being watched,” V. Uhma Devi, the wife of Gadek assemblymen G. Saminathan, recounted to reporters.

Uhma Devi said the call was made on October 26, a day before the Deepavali celebration in Malaysia. 

She remembered it well because she and several other family members of those detained under Sosma had gathered outside the federal police headquarters at Bukit Aman at 11pm on Deepavali eve, in a solidarity protest demonstration.

Saminathan is among 12 Malaysian men who were recently charged in court under Sosma for alleged support of the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam, a separatist militant group destroyed a decade ago at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war.

The other DAP lawmaker is Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran.

Uhma Devi said the phone calls continued coming in, and said the caller even indirectly asked for a bribe at one point if she wanted Saminathan’s early release.

“If wanted, I must belanja him makan. I then said to him that I did not understand what he meant.

“He said that I couldn’t understand simple language and said that it is a matter of no small amount and said he would give me another 10 minutes to think about it,” she told reporters.

“In the next call I received 10 minutes later, the officer asked if I had made up my mind and I told him that if he comes in front of me and told the same thing, I just might be able to do something about it and the person hung up,” she added.

Saminathan’s personal aide K. Jayasutha told reporters she got repeated calls from people claiming to be the police and demanding she and her team remove their Facebook posts on the schedule for candlelight vigils for the detainees.

“We were planning a candlelight vigil at a temple in Melaka when I got a call. The person started questioning who is attending, who is the VIP and who are the organisers.  

“The person also mentioned my post in FB. I posted on my Facebook on why he is not a terrorist and about the candlelight vigils  

“This person told us not post anything because he claims that the posts were going viral and ask that it be removed,” Jayasutha said, adding that she is fearful of reprisal after receiving such calls.

She said the caller insisted the detainees’ family and friends refrain from holding any solidarity activity, including prayers, to protest their detention, as well as stop inviting others.

“They said we shouldn’t do any candlelight vigils and shouldn’t post any related activities about prayers. They also said we shouldn’t invite people on FB to join the prayers.

“During every prayer, there will be someone who will definitely contact us when we post about the prayers. 

“They hinted that if we don’t do it then we will be in trouble,” she said.

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said the commission will investigate the families’ claims. 

Malay Mail is trying to contact Bukit Aman for comment.

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