Now Sosma detainees launch hunger strike in Penang

Opalyn Mok
Tamilar Kural Malaysia president David Marshel speaks to the press outside the Penang Prison August 28, 2018. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 28 — Eight people held without trial using the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) at the Penang Prison are on a hunger strike to demand they be allowed bail.

Tamilar Kural Malaysia president David Marshel said the eight detainees were already in poor health and being monitored in the medical ward of the prison.

“They started a hunger strike from yesterday morning because they wanted to be allowed bail due to their health conditions,” he told reporters outside the prison today.

He said the detainees also want a clear commitment from the government regarding the future of the preventive detention law.

“The ministers and the prime minister have said it will be abolished, but when? The detainees want to know when, just give us a fixed date when it will be abolished,” he said.

He said the eight detainees also have various diseases including cancer, HIV, diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

Aside from food, the eight are also refusing their medication.

The NGO chief said the group preferred death over continued detention under Sosma.

He said Jelutong MP RSN Rayer visited the inmates yesterday to advise them to end the strike, but was unsuccessful.

“Some of them have been detained for more than a year,” he said.

He said there are in total 42 Sosma detainees in the Penang Prison, but only the eight who were in separate cells due to the health conditions were on hunger strike.

The family members of the eight detainees, aged between 30 and 60, were also gathered outside the prison today.

P. Letchumy speaks to the press regarding the condition of her son-in-law who is currently being detained in the Penang Prison.

One of them, P. Letchumy, 63, said her son-in-law was detained using Sosma in 2017.

“He has asthma and has to be on medication,” she said, while expressing her worry about him going on hunger strike.

David also met with the prison warden to discuss the conditions of the eight detainees.

“He will meet with the inmates and talk to them, we will get updates from him later,” he said.

The eight detainees will not end the hunger strike until they are allowed bail, David said based on a handwritten memorandum they gave him to deliver to the government.

In the memorandum, they insisted they were willing to die in prison for their cause.

Some of the reasons stated in the memorandum included their worries for their families who were without source of income, their health conditions were worsening in prison and that some of them claimed their wives had asked for divorce.

David hoped the government would do something to help the detainees to end their hunger strike.

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