The local police in Gebeng, Malaysia have been accused of suppressing basic human rights following the illegal arrests of civilians who are protesting against the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP), an Australian-owned rare earths mining company.
Over a dozen of protesters were arrested on June 22, including Australian environmental defender Natalie Lowrey. She was released earlier and she is now back in Sydney safe and sound.
However, not all the protesters were freed in good faith. Last week, six were released on three conditions – bail amounting to RM 2,500 (€576) each, a ban from posting on social media, and monthly reporting at the local police station.
The six are members of the Himpunan Hijau (Green Assembly), a Malaysian environmental movement protesting against Lynas. They were detained on charges of illegal assembly and rioting following their participation in the protest calling for the company to cease work on the plant and leave Malaysia.
The group opposes the operations of Lynas plant, which the group claims produces tonnes of toxic waste.
Two protesters were hospitalised after the protest and a human rights defender sustained serious injuries in the head, resulting in concussion, according to reports. All were charged were violating the country’s penal code.
The lawyer for the human rights defenders rejected the conditions, arguing that the injunction is an unconstitutional infringement of the right to freedom of expression. The case hearing will resume on September 2.
Front Line Defenders is concerned that the charges and bail conditions are targeting the protesters in order to obstruct and limit their human rights, specifically their campaign to protect the environment of the local community in Kuantan.
Front Line Defenders has urged the authorities in Malaysia to immediately drop all charges against the 15 human rights activists.