Human Rights

Defiant Lena slams Malaysia sanctions against 'Killing fields of Sri Lanka'

A human rights activist who faced a three year jail term for organizing a public screening of a film showing war crime allegations in Sri Lanka's civil war was set free by a Malaysian court after international outcry against her conviction.

Lena Hendry who was fined the sum of 10, 000 Malaysian Ringgit (USD 2259) for screening 'No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka', told journalists outside court, " What happened today is control of freedom of speech".

"What is happening is ridiculous," She said.

"This is impinging on the right of freedom of expression. It sets a precedent against using films to raise awareness. We will definitely try to look at the reform of the law."

Sri Lankan Genocide

Her lawyer New Sin Yew described the censorship laws as arbitrary and very broad sweeping legislation used to impede on freedom of expression, "even if what you are trying to highlight is something of public interest and public importance".

"We should never penalise the exercise of a right especially when it comes to important issues like Sri Lankan Genocide,"  he said.

'Shame'

Director of No Fire Zone, Callum Macrae said the conviction and the fining of Lena Hendry brings shame on Malaysia.

"This was no token fine - it is difficult to see this as  anything other than a warning against those who want to defend human rights and free speech in Malaysia," he said.

Recalling that attempts in Malaysia to prevent the screening of the film and the subsequent prosecution of Lena were instigated at the insistence of the former Sri Lankan government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Director Macrae said in a statement, it is indefensible that persecution of Lena has persisted even after the Rajapaksa regime was kicked out by the democratic vote of the people.

© JDS