PETALING JAYA: The event may have been three decades ago, but that is not stopping a group of 77 NGOs from demanding an apology from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the mass arrests and closure of three newspapers during Operasi Lalang.
“We demand a public apology and sincere expression of remorse from Dr Mahathir for depriving so many innocent Malaysians of their freedom, and for the torture they went through during Operasi Lalang,” four bodies said in a joint statement yesterday.
The statement by Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH, KLSCAH Youth Section, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy and Suaram said 77 NGOs had endorsed the move.
The statement was released in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Operasi Lalang, a security crackdown conducted on Oct 27, 1987, under which 106 people were detained.
On Friday, Dr Mahathir, who was Prime Minister and Home Minister then, insisted that the arrests and the closure of three newspapers, which included The Star, was purely a police decision and that he had little choice but to go along with it.
The Pakatan Harapan chairman also claimed that he did not agree with the police to conduct the arrests.
The statement pointed out that findings of the Human Rights Commission had shown evidence that the ISA detainees went through cruel and degrading treatment.
“We would like to remind that even wartime detainees are afforded basic protection under the Geneva Convention, which condemns torture.
“We demand a thorough investigation into all allegations of torture under ISA and for the torturers to be accountable for their actions,” it added.
It further called on Dr Mahathir to 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 judges sacked in 1988,” the statement added.
It said Dr Mahathir must also apologise over financial scandals that were allegedly linked to him.