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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Youth activist recounts harrowing detention, intimidation against family


Youth activist Sarah Irdina has recounted her traumatic experience following her arrest two days ago, stating that police not only intimidate her but also her family members.

This was over her Twitter posts about the #Lawan protest which is set to take place in Kuala Lumpur today to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin amid the spiralling Covid-19 pandemic.

Sarah said she was detained at Dang Wangi district police headquarters on Thursday and faced a slew of questions, specifically about the Twitter account of MISI:Solidariti, which she runs.

The 20-year-old activist added that after police documented her, she was driven in a police vehicle to her home where they proceeded to raid her room to look for the devices used to access the youth empowerment group's Twitter account.

"My aunt was on the verge of tears, begging the police to let me go. Having my aunt see me in that state, detained under police custody, almost tore my heart in two. But I had to toughen up: I told her I would be okay.

"The police constantly told my aunt that I wasn't being cooperative enough. It infuriated me - all I was doing was trying my best to exercise my rights under the law when I was being questioned by them earlier.

"These intimidation tactics were not just being used against me. They were being used against my beloved family, whom the police had clearly targeted in order to force my cooperation," she shared her account of events on Twitter.

Sarah was investigated under the Sedition Act 1948 and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

‘Strip naked, down to my underwear’

She said that she was then brought to the police detention centre where she was detained overnight.

"I was forced to strip naked, down to my underwear. I changed into the police lockup shirt and pants, then entered my cell.

She said the bed was made of bricks with a hard plank over it and an open bathroom next to it which was visible to all who walked past the grills of the small cell.

"I couldn't stop crying. All I could think about was how I would even survive for the next 12 hours - it seemed like an eternity; it felt impossible to get through.

"I couldn't even bring myself to eat and sleep... Would my life ever be the same again? What did I do that was so bad that I deserve to go through this?

"What kind of government punishes its youth for demanding justice and asking for what we, the rakyat, deserve?" she said.

Sarah added that she lost the concept of time.

"On the wall of my lockup was a single phrase, written over and over: "Stay strong".

"Scattered across the cell, these two words etched by previous detainees pierced strength in my heart. I wonder then, and hope now, that the person who wrote that is okay," she said.

Detained for 11 hours

Sarah expressed her gratitude to all who had stood in solidarity with her and attributed this to her early release.

Sarah was released at around 1am on Friday after almost 11 hours of detention. She described her detention as mental torture.

"What I went through is not unique to me alone: it has happened to countless other people and will continue to happen to more. But from the bottom of my heart: No one should ever go through this.

"The intimidation inflicted by the police onto me and my fellow friends is unacceptable.

"This failed government's inhumane treatment of those that fight for a better Malaysia is what keeps hurting us Malaysians, when their job is supposedly to protect it. This is why we #lawan (fight)," she said. - Mkini

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