PETALING JAYA: A group of 77 NGOs are demanding an apology from former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the arrests of 106 people and the closure of three newspapers during Operasi Lalang 30 years ago.
"We demand a public apology and a sincere expression of remorse from Dr Mahathir for depriving so many innocent Malaysians of their freedom and the torture they went through during Operasi Lalang," it said in a statement on Saturday.
The group added that Dr Mahathir must apologise for the "assault" on the Malaysian judiciary in 1988, which saw the removal of former lord president Tun Salleh Abas and other Supreme Court judges.
"Dr Mahathir owes an apology not only to all the victims of Operasi Lalang, but also to the former Lord President and the Supreme Court judges that he sacked in 1988," it said.
The group also said that Dr Mahathir must apologise to Malaysians over financial scandals that were allegedly linked to him, as it had cost the rakyat billions of ringgit.
It pointed out that findings by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) had shown sufficient evidence to prove that detainees went through a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment while under detention.
"We would like to remind the public that even wartime detainees are afforded basic protections under the Geneva Convention, which condemns torture and inhuman detainees.
"We demand a thorough investigation into all allegations of torture under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and for the torturers to be accountable for their actions," it said.
The statement was released in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Operasi Lalang.
On Friday, Dr Mahathir insisted that the arrest of 106 people and the closure of three newspapers was purely a police decision and he had little choice but to go along.
The Pakatan Harapan chairman also claimed that he did not agree with the police intention to conduct the arrests.