Monday, June 15, 2009

Are We Seeing The Abu Ghraib Style of Detention in Malaysia?

Abu Ghraib: SPC Charles Graner beating up restrained detainees

First, it's Kugan, then it's Ganapragasam, in Damansara Damai. Both accused were found dead in police lockups in the vicinity of Selangor. The one common thing is that they are alive and well when they were detained but in the next few days after that, they ended up in body bags. And it's two Indians dead.

The one thing that was very suspicious was that when G. Antony met his wife on Friday, he was in okay condition with an exception of some bruise marks front and right. And despite the assurance from the police that he will be released today, he ended up dead on Sunday morning. The initial analysis by the pathologist who also conducted the second post-mortem on Kugan has the same conclusion that both men did not die by natural causes but it is allegedly caused by some torture methods Abu Ghraib style of prisoner abuse by the police.

This is the one point that people are getting suspicious of police in how prisoners are treated. I don't know whether it is a new method, by brute force to make an accused admit of their crime although they do not know what they are accused of. Or maybe given that the police do not know whether if the detainee is a member of a underworld or something that the man could be lying or otherwise. If that is the case, where is the lie detector when you need one? Is it that the police, particularly in the logistics division could not afford to buy one or two lie detectors for each station?

When I saw the news of the man dead in lockup, I remembered of the Abu Ghraib prisoner tortures but there, it was more severe than what is in Malaysia. The problem though is that people, especially the makcik and pakcik in rural areas simply are not aware of such things unlike those in the urban areas. Abu Ghraib is more of a prison lockup, it was a modern day gibbet hellhole in the Middle East. At least Tijhar prison, the biggest prison in Asia in New Delhi doesn't go as bad as Abu Ghraib. They have their limits.

At this time, the police have asked the people to stop speculating on the man's death. But then, as the saying goes, you can't capture lightining in the bottle twice in succession. No way that people would accept a statement by the CPO or something that say that G. Antony slipped in the toilet, broke his head and so on. The autopsy remarks were: 4 puncture marks on the back, one the size of a 10-sen coin.

In August 2002 nine unsanctioned military interrogation techniques were included into the US military manual by Captain Carolyn Wood and when she was moved to Abu Ghraib in 2003, she drew up her own rules of interrogation, against what was set and used later for Iraq by General Ricardo Sanchez. It never followed the Geneva Convention standards but followed the Bagram method used in Afghanistan. The only question here is that is our police force starting to use unacceptable methods of interrogation over detainees, even if you're arrested for petty crimes?

Now there's a second death in detention in Selangor, the first person that has to answer is of course the CPO Khalid Bakar. Bakar has previously been branded as a liar following his defence for detaining people at the Bersih Anniversary rally, Kugan's death by lung problem etc.. But then recently Khalid is mentioned in a statutory declaration by ASP Mior Fahim Ahmad that is connected to the Johor rackets syndicate. Part of the SD reads:

" 24. Subjek (i) dan (ii) telah ditahan di lokap Balai Polis Larkin, dimana ketiga-tiga mereka ditahan untuk tempoh 60 hari sementara arahan KKDN. Selepas sembilan (9) hari kemudian, ketiga-tiga subjek di atas dibebaskan tanpa pengetahuan saya, sedangkan saya merupakan IO kes fail. Mereka telah dibebaskan oleh P/DSP. NG FOOK LONG di atas arahan DATO KHALID BIN ABU BAKAR – Tim. Pengarah JSJ 1 – (Operasi/Risikan). Setelah meneliti ketiga-tiga kes fail tersebut, saya dapati mereka dibebaskan dengan alasan, telah insaf, tiada kekerasan dan menjalankan aktiviti secara individu, sedangkan arahan PJSJ No. 2/2005 masih dikuatkuasakan."

Being the CPO means that Khalid has to oversee the entire police force in the state. If you are a commander of the Abu Ghraib prison, that means you are in the same capacity of overseeing the entire camp. Following the exposay of the Abu Ghraib tortures, the commanding officer of the camp, B.G Janis Karpinski was demoted to Colonel, thus ruining her career advancement simply because she had failed to notice the personnel's misconduct on prison treatment although she repeatedly denied that she doesn't know about it. This means, in the same capacity, Khalid has to bear responsibility for failing to control his underlings.

Let's hope that there is no policeman / policewoman / prison wardens in Malaysia that is behaving as disgraced SPC Lynddie England did. The prisoners beating in Sungai Buloh as reported by Malaysiakini is deemed by SUHAKAM as unacceptable.

And then, now we turn our attention to Cousin Hisham. I'm not very sure if Hisham is really doing the job or just being there just because of being cousin of Najib that he gets the privilege. You would want to be ready of what are the roles to play as the Home Minister instead of shaking legs around. For a start, is he really meaning it of what he's saying of the action of policemen in the Perak fiasco or is he telling another story?

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