(UPDATE) Malaysian blogger starts hunger strike in jail
First Posted 17:03:00 05/07/2008
KUALA LUMPUR--A Malaysian blogger in jail after writing an article linking a top leader to the gruesome killing of a Mongolian woman has begun a hunger strike, his wife said Wednesday.
Raja Petra Kamaruddin, founder and editor of the popular Malaysia Today site, has been charged with sedition for implicating Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife in the October 2006 murder.
He refused to post bail set at 5,000 ringgit ($1,600), opting instead to be locked up until his trial begins on October 6.
"He is on a hunger strike. It is a protest. He is not guilty and he is being punished," his distraught wife, Marina Lee Abdullah told AFP.
"The last time he did this, his liver was damaged. I don't think he is going to last that long."
Raja Petra has also refused visits by family members.
"I don't blame him but of course he's my husband and... if he doesn't want to meet even me, this means it is bad news," she said.
Pictures of the 57-year-old blogger looking defiant while behind bars at the court prison were this week splashed on the front pages of local papers.
"I am not going to post bail. I don't have the money," he told reporters in the packed courtroom on Tuesday.
If convicted, he faces a three-year jail term or a fine of up to 5,000 ringgit.
Blogger Ahirudin Attan, president of the National Alliance of Bloggers, said the "high-handed" way in which Raja Petra was treated by authorities, threatened freedom of speech on the Internet.
"Parties mentioned in his article should exercise their right to reply and debate with him over the issues instead of quickly resorting to sedition," he added.
Gayathry Venkiteswaran from Malaysia's Center for Independent Journalism said: "It is a systematic target against an individual who has risked his neck to expose issues of public interest.
The government's harshest critic, former premier Mahathir Mohamad -- who has recently taken up blogging -- has also denounced the charge against Raja Petra.
The high-profile case involving the killing of the 28-year-old Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose body was blown up with explosives, has grabbed headlines across the country since the murder trial began in June last year.
Najib, who is expected to take over from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the country's next premier, has denied any involvement in her death.
Two police officers from an elite force, whose duties included guarding the prime minister and Najib, were charged with the killing.
Analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who has links with Najib and top government leaders has been charged with abetting the killing.
Malaysia's Sedition Act, a carryover from British colonial times, broadly criminalizes activities with "seditious tendencies," including those that express anti-government sentiments.
Here are the rules for Satyagraha Campaigns. Any similarities?
Gandhi proposed a series of rules for satyagrahis to follow in a resistance campaign:
1. harbour no anger
2. suffer the anger of the opponent
3. never retaliate to assaults or punishment; but do not submit, out of fear of punishment or assault, to an order given in anger
4. voluntarily submit to arrest or confiscation of your own property
5. if you are a trustee of property, defend that property (non-violently) from confiscation with your life
6. do not curse or swear
7. do not insult the opponent
8. neither salute nor insult the flag of your opponent or your opponent’s leaders
9. if anyone attempts to insult or assault your opponent, defend your opponent (non-violently) with your life
10. as a prisoner, behave courteously and obey prison regulations (except any that are contrary to self-respect)
11. as a prisoner, do not ask for special favourable treatment
12. as a prisoner, do not fast in an attempt to gain conveniences whose deprivation does not involve any injury to your self-respect
13. joyfully obey the orders of the leaders of the civil disobedience action
14. do not pick and choose amongst the orders you obey; if you find the action as a whole improper or immoral, sever your connection with the action entirely
15. do not make your participation conditional on your comrades taking care of your dependents while you are engaging in the campaign or are in prison; do not expect them to provide such support
16. do not become a cause of communal quarrels
17. do not take sides in such quarrels, but assist only that party which is demonstrably in the right; in the case of inter-religious conflict, give your life to protect (non-violently) those in danger on either side
18. avoid occasions that may give rise to communal quarrels
19. do not take part in processions that would wound the religious sensibilities of any community