(WNN/FLD) Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA, SOUTH-EASTERN ASIA: On 7 November 2013, human rights defender Lena Hendry is due to appear at Majistret Court 6, Duta High Court Complex in Kuala Lumpur. She is charged under the Film Censorship Act 2002 for screening a documentary exposing human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan military during the 2009 civil war.
Lena Hendry is a Program Coordinator for Pusat KOMAS, a human rights organization which works to empower indigenous peoples, urban poor, workers, and civil society organization through the use of popular media.
Lena Hendry is charged under Section 6 (1) (b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 for showing a documentary entitled “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, which is an investigatory documentary reporting how thousands of Tamil people were killed by the Sri Lankan military. The Sri Lankan authorities deny these allegations.
“To advocate a policy or a law that says that film or video material must be pre-approved by the government before it can be used is in itself a violation of principles of human rights and the UN Human Rights Defender Declaration,” says Pusat KOMAS along with 112 other human rights organizations in a public letter directed to the Malaysian government.
If the human rights defender is found guilty, she could face a fine of between RM5,000 and RM30,000 (approximately $1,576 to $9,455 USD) and/or a maximum of three years in prison.
Lena Hendry last appeared in court on October 21, 2013 when documents including the charge sheet, the police report, the layout of the venue where the documentary was shown, and a copy of the film in DVD format were provided to the court.
In a recent release Front Line Defenders reiterates the call for the authorities in Malaysia to immediately drop the charge against Lena Hendry as it is solely motivated by her legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights. For more information on the case, please see the original urgent appeal dated 20 September 2013.