As many of you will know, Lena Hendry is a Human Rights Defender from Malaysia who has for more than three years been fighting a prosecution brought by the Malaysian authorities for screening No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, allegedly without permission from the country’s Censorship Board.
The letter below explains the background to this disgraceful case.
Yesterday, Tuesday 21st, Lena was found guilty and faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail and/or a maximum fine of 30,000 Malaysian Ringgit (£5400/$6700). Sentence is due to be passed on the 22nd of March.
We have very little time to make abundantly clear to the authorities in Malaysia that we regard the use of this draconian law to deny freedom of speech and persecute Lena as completely unacceptable and extremely damaging to Malaysia’s international reputation.
We are asking people to tweet about the letter including this link: Defend Lena Please include the ftwitter accounts of the Malaysian Attorney General, @AGCPutrajaya the Minister of Home Affairs @Zahid_Hamidi and the Prime Minister @NajibRazak Please also include the hashtag #DefendLena
Please also share this on social media such as Facebook – and if possible print it out and send it individually to the people listed on the letter. You may prefer to put the letter as a link on your own website which can also be used on twitter.
Please circulate the letter to as many friends and groups as possible. The text of the letter is below and can also be downloaded as a word document here
International Friends of LenaHendry
C/O the Sri Lanka Campaign forPeace and Justice
Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Sq
To[full addresses enclosed below]:
Mr. Mohamed Apandi Ali, Attorney General
Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs
Mr. Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia
UrgentAppeal regarding Malaysian Human Rights Defender Lena Hendry
On Tuesday 21st February 2017, Lena Hendry, a humanrights defender in Malaysia, was convicted of showing the film No FireZone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka – an award-winning documentaryfilm about human rights abuses at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war – withoutthe approval of Malaysia’s censorship authorities. She is due to be sentencedon the 22nd March this year.
I wish to protest in the strongest terms about this disgracefulconviction which flies in the face of every principle of free speech and democraticdebate.
Lena faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail and/or amaximum fine of 30,000 Malaysian Ringgit (£5400/$6700) under Malaysia’s FilmCensorship Act which criminalizes the possession, distribution, or showing offilms which have not been approved by the country’s censorship board. Iteffectively makes any film – or even publicity about any film – illegal if itdoes not have prior approval from the censorship authorities.
The reality is that the law is being used for political censorship,and that is what appears to lie behind the conviction of Lena.
On the 3rd July 2013 the Malaysian human rightsorganization Pusat KOMAS showed No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of SriLanka to an invited audience of 150 people in Kuala Lumpur, at ascreening attended by the film’s director, Callum Macrae. The group went aheadwith the screening despite pressure from the Sri Lankan government whose forceswere accused in the film of responsibility for war crimes. As the screening gotunder way it was raided by 30 officials from the Malaysian Home Ministry, thePolice and Immigration Officials. Three organizers were arrested and Lena wassubsequently charged in September 2013. A three year-long legal battle ensuedculminating in this guilty verdict.
The use of this draconian law to attack and prevent freedom ofspeech is disturbing and unacceptable, and is in danger of bringing Malaysiainto international disrepute.
The Emmy and Bafta nominated film which Lena is charged withshowing is now widely and internationally acknowledged to have played a keyrole in exposing the terrible atrocities committed at the end of the war in SriLanka. It also helped convince delegates to the UN Human Rights Council tolaunch a major inquiry into the events which saw tens of thousands of innocentTamil civilians slaughtered in the space of a few weeks – most killed bygovernment shelling.
The Sri Lankan government which ordered that shelling – and whichtried to stop this screening – has now been replaced by popular vote of the SriLankan people. But many of its leading members and military officials stand accusedof direct command responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
History has vindicated the film. Yet while the perpetrators of thecrimes it exposed walk free, Lena faces jail for showing it. Her conviction isa denial of free speech which brings shame on Malaysia and should immediatelybe overturned.
International Friends of Lena Hendry
Friends of Lena Hendry can be contacted through: NoFireZoneMovie@gmail.com
|Mr. Mohamed Apandi Ali
Attorney General’s Chambers
No 45, Persiaran Perdana Precint 4,
62100 Putrajaya, Malaysia
|Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,
Minister of Home Affairs,
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia.
|Mr. Najib bin Tun Abdul
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office Malaysia,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia.