2 July 2021

Amnesty International Malaysia strongly condemns the investigation into Anna Har from Freedom Film Network (FFN) and illustrator Amin Landak for their involvement in the production of the film Chilli Powder and Thinner, and the subsequent raid by the police of the offices of FFN and Amin.

Har and Amin were called in for questioning today over the four-minute film that was released last month. The short animated film depicting allegations of torture while under police custody is based on a victim’s testimony. Following the questioning, the office of FFN and the home office of Amin were both raided by police investigators on the same day. They are both being investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act and Sections 500 and 505(b) of the Penal Code. These laws restrict the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

We view the investigation into FFN, Har and Amin as attempts to silence criticism of the police and distract from public concern over the high numbers of allegations of abuse and deaths in police custody. In recent months, there have been a spate of deaths in custody, among them A Ganapathy (18 April), S Sivabalan (20 May), Surendran Shanker (27 May) and Umar Faruq Abdullah (3 June).

Deaths in custody have been a longstanding problem, with human rights organisation Suaram documenting at least eight publicly recorded cases in 2020, and at least 104 people having died in custody from 2011 to 2018. Yet, 16 years after the recommendation by a Royal Commission of Inquiry to establish an Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the government and the police continue to resist its formation.

We urge the police to immediately drop its investigation into FFN, Har and Amin and stop harassing and threatening artists, filmmakers or any member of the public for commenting on and discussing issues such as deaths in police custody. Instead of pursuing its critics, the police should instead focus on investigating and ending torture and deaths in custody, and hold those responsible to account in fair trials.