UN calls out Malaysia for reprisal against “un-Islamic” NGOs

This press release just came in from the UN .

10  January 2014

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

Malaysia

We are concerned about the recent decision of Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs to declare COMANGO — a coalition compris[ed] of 54 Malaysian civil society organizations – illegal.

On 8 January 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs declared in a press statement that COMANGO, which consists mainly of non-Islamic organizations, promotes rights which are not in line with Islam and is therefore illegal. The statement also notes that only 15 of the 54 organisations are registered under the Societies Act 1966.

The COMANGO coalition submitted joint reports to both the 2009 and 2013 Universal Periodic Reviews of Malaysia. Since its submission to the second cycle of the UPR, which took place on 24 October 2013, the coalition has reportedly been subjected to a series of harassment and threats, allegedly by both state and non-state actors. The coalition has been accused of attacking Islam and of spreading beliefs that do not conform to Islamic teachings.

We are concerned at what appears to be an act of reprisal against COMANGO for its engagement with international human rights mechanism, notably the UPR. The Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner Navi Pillay have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal.

We call upon Government of Malaysia to amend the Societies Act 1966, maximise the space for human rights activists and organisations to operate freely, and ensure that they can conduct their legitimate activities without intimidation or harassment.

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