Khalid Ismath, a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), was arrested on October 7 and later charged under Malaysia's sedition and communication acts for posting allegedly offensive comments on social media.
He was initially denied bail over posts relating to the arrest of lawyer Kamal Hisham Jaafar, a former legal advisor to the Johor royal family. As of October 27, Khalid had been held in solitary confinement for 18 days. His lawyer had not been permitted to visit him.
PSM members are coordinating a “Free Khalid” campaign. This has featured daily candlelight vigils and actions at the jail in Johor Bahru where Khalid is detained. Indonesian student activists also organised a solidarity action in Penang.
There is also a social media campaign for Khalid, including the sharing of messages of support from activists around the world.
Khalid has since been granted bail. Green Left Weekly spoke to PSM international secretary Choo Chon Kai, who said PSM members were shocked when Khalid was initially denied bail as his posts on Facebook were “quite mild”.
Choo said the Johor High Court deemed Khalid a flight risk, citing the case of blogger Ali Abd Jalil. The blogger, accused of criticising the royal family, was granted bail and managed to flee to Sweden.
Amnesty International has boosted the campaign to free Khalid by declaring him a prisoner of conscience. It is campaigning for his release.
The PSM criticised the courts for punishing Khalid before he has even gone to trial.
In Australia, Resistance, Young Socialist Alliance released a statement, saying: “Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance calls for the release of Khalid Ismeth, a socialist student activist who has been imprisoned by the Malaysian state since the 7th of October. He is being held under the undemocratic Sedition Act which criminalises dissent and stifles democracy …
“His post on social media was in violation of a series of anti-democratic laws, particularly the Sedition Act which allows for the wholesale repression of dissent in the country, particularly of left-wing organisations like the Socialist Party of Malaysia.
“Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with young people and students around the world who are confronted with anti-democratic laws designed to repress popular protest and dissent. We stand in solidarity with the Socialist Party of Malaysia and with Khalid and join in calling for his immediate release and for the Sedition Act to be scrapped.”