An international campaign has been launched to call for the release of Khalid Mohd Ismath, a Malaysian student activist and a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), who has been detained since October 7.
Khalid has been active in highlighting human rights violations and misuse of power by the authorities in Malaysia. He was arrested on October 7 under the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Act 1998 for allegedly posting offensive comments on social media.
Due for release on October 9, at the end of his remand period, he was instead rearrested under Malaysia's 1948 Sedition Act.
Khalid was eventually charged on October 13 and denied bail. He is now facing a total of 14 charges, including allegedly insulting the Malaysian king, Johor State royalty and the police force.
On October 15, the PSM said the police used the first arrest to detain Khalid and seize his mobile phone and computer. This enabled the police to extract information that could then be used against Khalid to detain him further.
The PSM regards the 14 charges leveled against Khalid as “unacceptable” and “a gross abuse of power”, and that there is no justification for Khalid to be denied bail.
According to the PSM, the Sedition Act has been increasingly used to curtail public dissent and freedom of expression in Malaysia, and the police are using this law to instill fear among activists by detaining and punishing anyone who criticises the authorities.
Amnesty International has now adopted Khalid as a prisoner of conscience. According to the Amnesty's report on Khalid's case, dozens of people have been investigated, charged and sentenced under the Sedition Act over the last two years and the ruling has sparked concerns that the authorities will dramatically step up their ongoing crackdown on peaceful dissent.