Malaysia urged to drop charges against activist who screened 'No Fire Zone'

Nearly 100 leading film-makers, writers, artists and lawyers from around the world have signed an open letter calling on the Malaysian government to drop charges against a human rights activist who is due to go on trial on Monday 14 December and could face up to three years in jail.

Lena Hendry, of the Malaysian human rights NGO Pusat KOMAS, has been charged under Malaysia’s draconian censorship laws for screening the award-winning documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka – a film about human rights abuses at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war – to an invited audience in July 2013. The screening was raided by 30 officials from the Malaysian Home Ministry, the Police and Immigration officials.

Ms Hendry, who is also Manager of Kuala Lumpur’s Freedom Film Festival, is charged under Malaysia’s Film Censorship law of 2002 which states that it is illegal for anyone to possess, distribute or show a film which has not been approved by the country’s censorship board.

'Act of political censorship'

The signatories of the letter, who include many well-known actors, directors and artists, including the rapper M.I.A,  Grammy Award winning Angelique Kidjo and leading film directors from the US, India, Malaysia and the UK, including the director of  No Fire Zone, Callum Macrae, as well as writers ranging from Naomi Klein to Meena Kandasamy, and actor Greg Wise, accuse the Malaysian authorities of using the law as an act of political censorship.

Meanwhile Lena’s supporters in Malaysia have organised a petition encouraging everyone concerned about this attack on freedom of speech to  add their signature.

Read the letter addressed to Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, as well as the country’s Home Minister and Attorney General.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.