About Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and former political opposition leader, is serving a five-year sentence on fabricated sodomy charges. Anwar’s infamous trial, which began in 2008 and concluded in February 2015, was replete with human rights violations and a lack of due process protections. Among them was a complete lack of credible evidence of the alleged act and blatant partiality in favor of the prosecution. In Malaysia, the trial was dubbed “Sodomy II” because, incredibly, Anwar was also accused and convicted on fabricated sodomy once before in 1998. As both cases are widely considered to be fabricated, it was also dubbed “Fitnah II,” which in the local language means slander.

Despite systematic political persecution against him, Anwar has stayed active in politics throughout nearly all of his adult life. He served in succession as the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports in 1983, of Agriculture in 1984, of Education from 1986-91, and was appointed Minister of Finance from 1991-98. In 1993, Anwar also became Deputy Prime Minister for then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a position he held until 1998.

After he was released from prison in the first sodomy case in 2004, Anwar emerged as the leader of a new party dedicated to a unified Malaysia, not defined by race or religion, but dedicated to equality of opportunity, and economic and social justice. Anwar’s party, the National Justice Party (later called the People’s Justice Party), in coalition with other opposition parties, gained enough power and parliamentary seats in elections to threaten the establishment party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), and current Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Anwar’s current detention is punishment for having exercised his fundamental human rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and political participation. Najib considers Anwar – and the promise of a democratic Malaysia he represents – to be a threat to his hold on power as the coalition led by Anwar won 51 percent popular support in the last general election. The fabricated sodomy charges are an attempt to silence Anwar and prevent him from participating in Malaysian politics.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union and Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the US Government, the UK Government, the Australian Government, and leading intellectual leaders, among others, have publically criticized Anwar’s politically-motivated conviction; many have called for his immediate release. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found Anwar’s detention to be arbitrary and in violation of international law, and also urged his immediate release.

To date, the conditions of Anwar’s detention are extremely troubling. He suffers from a serious shoulder injury, and he is being denied necessary medical treatment, which constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and may amount to torture. This was noted in the WGAD’s opinion and in an October 2015 statement by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Why must Anwar Ibrahim be released?

  1. The Malaysian government detained Anwar Ibrahim because he exercised his right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  2. The Malaysian government detained Anwar Ibrahim because he exercised the right to freedom of political participation.
  3. The Malaysian government failed to provide Anwar Ibrahim an independent and impartial tribunal.
  4. The Malaysian government interfered with Anwar Ibrahim’s right to prepare a defense and withheld key evidence from the defense.
  5. There was no valid evidence to find Anwar Ibrahim guilty of sodomy.
  6. The Malaysian government’s ongoing denial of medically appropriate detention conditions for Anwar Ibrahim constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

(Source: White Paper on the Case of Anwar Ibrahim by Jared Genser, Sivarasa Rasiah, 2016)