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Monday, February 27, 2017

Group starts campaign to pressure gov't to free Lena Hendry

Human rights group Pusat Komas has kicked off a campaign to pressure the government to free unconditionally, activist Lena Hendry, who was convicted of airing a documentary on Sri Lankan civil without approval.
The campaign, dubbed #defendlena, will run until March 22, the day the Magistrate's court is due to deliver a sentence against Lena under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002. 
"We want more people to be aware of the case and pressure the government to drop or overturn the case," said Pusat Komas director Anna Har. 
She urged netizens to express their views via social media, particularly by sending tweets to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the Attorney-General's Chambers with the hashtag #defendlena.
"We also encourage people to understand the case by watching 'No Fire Zone' and begin to ask,'why she is being charged for something like this'," she told Malaysiakini.
Hendry was charged for airing the film that was not vetted and approved by Film Censorship Board, at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall on July 3, 2013. 
Under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act, 2002, Hendry could face up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000, if convicted.
The trial started in December 2015 and the magistrate's had on March 10 last year, acquitted her of the charge.
The government subsequently appealed and her acquittal was overturned by the Kuala Lumpur High Court. 
Magistrate Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris, who recently found her guilty, would deliver the sentence against her on March 22. Hendry plans to appeal against her conviction. 
According to Har, the same documentary had been publicly screened on several occassions, but there was no action taken against those behind the airing. 
The occasions include the 2015 International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), where the prime minister was in attendance, and a Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) screening, where Home Ministry officers were present. 
She said part of the #defendlena campaign would be screening of the same documentary by small groups. 
Pusat Komas also plans to conduct a forum on film censorship, Har added. 
She then took the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) to task, asking whether people who planned to screen their wedding and engagement videos also needed to have the body's permission.
Har urged the relevant authorities to respect the basic right of citizens to decide what films they can or cannot watch.

"We strongly believe that Lena has been arbitrarily and unjustly targeted and persecuted. We continue to be puzzled that while the police has found no basis to detain Lena’s colleagues who were also present in the same event, she was singled out and charged with committing an offense. 
"This double-standard action reflects the inconsistency in the prosecution and the ridiculous nature of Lena’s arrest and subsequent conviction for screening a documentary film," she said.
"We are deeply concerned that the Malaysian authorities seem to be very accommodating to the wishes and dictates of a foreign government, to the extent of ridiculously determining what films should or should not be screened on Malaysian soil."- Mkini

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