Nov 7 case management for woman accused of screening unapproved documentary

  • Nation
  • Monday, 21 Oct 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The Magistrate's Court here has fixed Nov 7 for case management of a human rights worker accused of screening a controversial documentary.

Magistrate Ashraf Rezal Abdul Manan set Mov 7 to hand over additional documents after DPP Ooi Chean Ling applied for a new date.

Programme coordinator for a human rights group Pusat Komas Lena Hendry claimed trial on Sept 19 to screening No Fire Zone, a documentary that had not been approved by the Censorship Board.

Under Section 6 (1) (b) of Film Censorship Act, 2002, Hendry faces up to three years' prison or a fine not exceeding RM30,000.

Hendry, who was represented by Joshua Tay, had been released on RM1,000 bail pending the resolution of the case.

On July 3, three Pusat Komas activists – Anna Har, Arul Prakkash and Hendry – were arrested in a raid by the Home Ministry, when they attempted to screen the controversial documentary ‘No Fire Zone’ at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, here.

The film No Fire Zone, directed by British national Callum Macrae, explores the oppression by the Sri Lankan government against Tamils in the island country.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued Sunday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) group called upon Malaysian authorities to immediately drop charges against Hendry and "find a way to undo the damage in a statement to Malaysia's cultural reputation."

HRW's deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement that threatening to jail someone for showing a documentary is "flipping the switch off on basic freedoms".

He also questioned the charges against Hendry as it appeared "politically motivated".

Prior to Komas's screening, the film had been shown for members of Parliament without incident and other non-governmental organisations had also screened it before.

"Malaysia's willingness to block the showing of 'No Fire Zone' and prosecute Hendry makes it a disturbing partner for Sri Lanka in whitewashing wartime atrocities," said Robertson.

Malaysia will be among the governments attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka on November 15-17.

"Malaysia's carrying Sri Lanka's torch just weeks before the Commonwealth meeting suggests political expediency trumping respect for free speech," he added.

Humans Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organisation which conducts investigations and advocacy efforts in the human rights field.

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