COMANGO’s siege mentality
Azril Mohd Amin – It is now less than 8 hours before Malaysia goes under review of her human rights record in the UPR process at the Human Rights Council, Geneva.
I have read an article by Honey Tan of COMANGO’s secretariat (here’s the full link) and, as has happened before, was initially impressed with her commendable writing skills. Then, as has also happened before, I watched her unravel a bit as she descended into ‘emotional’ remarks.
But what is more interesting in the said article is when Honey Tan started smearing Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Malaysia and MuslimUPRo, which are now lobbying against COMANGO’s unreasonable demands in their report to the UPR process.
Honey Tan has failed to respond to our specific assertions on their demands which clearly undermine the special place of Islam – Article 3(1) in the Federal Constitution, and promoting LGBT rights. Among others, they are ‘recommending’ that Malaysia signs the ICCPR (of which in Article 18 and read with Article 18 the UDHR allows for absolute freedom of religion including the act of apostasy) and their call for Malaysia to abolish section 377A of the Penal Code to do away with the henious act of sodomy, and ultimately, allow for same-sex marriage in our country.
All Malaysians have witnessed it before: Honey Tan, COMANGO and other self-proclaimed Malaysian ‘human rights’ champions have faltered under pressure at times about what is actually “true”. It seems clear they are annoyed with the MuslimUPRo-led initiatives she refers to, which are seeking to defend the special place of Islam in the Federal Constitution and protect the morality of our people — through lobbying to convince public opinion and the media, naturally.
She is now, it seems to me, diverting from the real issues by accusing us of not having read COMANGO’s report and questioning our credibility. But at the same time they are being childish by complaining to the OHCHR in Geneva. Quote: “The representatives from the OHCHR told us how human rights defenders may avail ourselves of the various UN mechanisms especially on matters of reprisals against us in our engagement with the UN processes.” I ask COMANGO do they now suffer from a siege mentality? If we are not a force to be reckoned with then why must they fear us and complaint to the OHCHR? And it seems that COMANGO has placed a higher value on loyalty to the OHCHR than to our King and the country.
But honestly, where are COMANGO’s response to our specific concerns?
I reproduce below MuslimUPRo’s specific concerns in the COMANGO’s report. They have yet to give Malaysians sufficient explanation why they are making those unreasonable claims. I repeat, these are not our allegations but are found in their own report which form the bulk of the demands contained in the documents used as a point of reference for Malaysia’s human rights review in the UPR process:
i. Paragraph 1: Malaysia is pressured to sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR). One example of the harmful elements contained in the ICCPR can be found in Article 18, on the rights of religious freedom. Please see the following comment: “The Committee observes that the freedom to ” have or to adopt ” a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views , as well as the right to retain one ‘s religion or belief …”. The full commentary can be viewed here. The implications of acceptance on the ICCPR will allow for rampant apostasy.
ii. Paragraph 6.8 relates to claims for Malaysia to sign and ratify on International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), with recommendations to “…provide the institutional legal framework for adopting international obligations into domestic laws”. Compliance with ICERD will only result in Malaysia following the lead of the Western secular views, thus dictating a redefinition on the term of “racism” to apply to Malaysia. This overrules domestic actions which take into account the realities and historical background as well as local religious and socio-cultural aspects. As such, this should be deemed or labelled negatively and stereotyped by the press or media as merely malicious agenda toward a nation.
iii. Malaysia is pressured to recognize SOGI-based (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity) rights, namely the rights of LGBTIQ (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered, inter-sexed and queer persons). The claims of this group allegedly being denied their rights are raised in paragraphs 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 of the report respectively. There are also pressures to abolish section 377A of the Penal Code (sodomy).
iv. Malaysia is also forced to submit to the contents of the 2006 Yogyakarta Principles which gives absolute freedom to those who practice unnatural or deviant sexual practices. If these LGBT rights are permitted, then the first step that must be taken by the Malaysian Government is to abolish legislation on sodomy. This will pave the way for introduction of legalizing same-sex marriages, which so far has been allowed in 14 countries around the world. Neighbouring Thailand is currently considering introducing similar legislation.
v. Paragraph 6.2 claims that Article 153 of the Constitution in respect to the privileges of the Malays as being racist in nature and termed as a ‘political tool’. This notion is in contravention of the social contract as well as the main features that make up the Federal Constitution.
vi. Paragraph 9 questions the enactments of Shariah Criminal Offences, particularly paragraph 9.5 which urges the repeal or amendment of the Shariah criminal offenses and enactments that are allegedly claimed as denying the rights to privacy.
vii. Paragraph 10 creates confusion on issues of religious freedom in Malaysia. This include the case on the use of the term “Allah” by Christians, which has yet to be decided by the Malaysian highest court. The report also questioned the ban on Shiite followers and their spreading of teachings among Muslims. Additionally, the rights of a Muslim father to convert his underage children to Islam have also been made into a human rights issue.
I believe many Malaysians can see that COMANGO figures are trotting out the ‘Oh, those people have not read our report, they don’t know human rights, they are saying things which are different to what we’re saying … they have extreme and backward views on human rights…!’ tactic a bit lately.
COMANGO & friends looked and sounded a little ‘off’ to me (early winter syndrome perhaps?) Have a look at their own report for yourself, and please let us know what your thoughts are.
And please make dua for Malaysia in the UPR process. May Allah SWT grant us success, Allahuma aamiin.