DRAWING RIGHTS: An Artist’s Workshop on Police Brutality


A whole-society problem demands a whole-society response – everyone is critical. In this light, Amnesty International Malaysia will be running a workshop for visual artists on police violence, custodial deaths and police accountability on June 26th 10AM-7PM. We hope that artists can build a new visual language and develop new creative approaches to the themes surrounding police brutality.

This workshop will give artists some of the human rights vocabulary around police brutality; identify the broader infrastructure of violence (policies, cultures, beliefs, powers) that police brutality sits within; and provide an overview of key moments in Malaysia in the movement to address police violence and hold police accountable. Guest facilitators will also guide artists through various example of how social issues have been translated into the arts, and Rupa Subramaniam will lead a hands-on art-making workshop on the issues.

After the workshop, artists will have the opportunity to apply for a 3-month mentorship with artist Rupa Subramaniam. Mentorship will include one-on-one feedback and advice, exhibition guidance, and connection to relevant resources. Mentees should expect to dive into their creative process: ideation, research and execution, while focusing on how to create awareness on police brutality/accountability using the visual arts. Mentored artists will also have an opportunity to feature their work in an exhibition at the end of the mentorship.


Malaysia’s long history of police abuse—which includes excessive use of force, torture, ill-treatment, harassment, and deaths in custody—have long been documented and have created a public perception of a police force that operates with impunity. As of May this year alone, there have been a horrifying 16 deaths in custody across Malaysia already. In April of last year, public outcry emerged after the death of milk trader A Ganapathy, who was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit upon his release following 12 days in police custody, where he later died. Autopsy results revealed he died from complications arising from injuries on his legs and shoulders, believed to have been sustained while in police custody. Earlier this year, Suhakam’s Mohd Hishamudin Md Yunus also said that the enforced disappearance of Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu was carried out with the acquiescence of the Royal Malaysian Police. Still, while custodial deaths and police abuse continue with impunity, the deeply flawed IPCC bill is set to be tabled for a second reading in the next parliamentary session this year and no meaningful efforts have been put in place to address the culture of violence and impunity that exists. While the issue of police brutality and abuse is not new, it grows ever more urgent that we identify the factors and systems that perpetuate police violence, and develop new and creative imaginations to end this culture of violence and impunity.


Rupa Subramaniam is a creative professional based in Kuala Lumpur. Since 2014, she has been developing communal art project that get disseminated through digital platforms. Her take on Hindu Goddesses protesting body policing, “This Body is Mine” (2017) reached more than 2 million views worldwide. Rupa’s experience in digital media strategy, since 2009, sets her apart in the creative industry for her ability to strategize clear communication messages and analyse big data. She has won numerous advertising awards including Aegis Global Award (Gold, 2012), and multiple Malaysia Media Awards (2010 – 2014). Her works, while very accessible, do not sacrifice depth. Her projects have been exhibited in Global Movement of Arts in World Humanities Conference Belgium, National Arts Gallery of Malaysia, Freedom Film Festival, among others. More recently, Rupa has listed as Women of the Year from Marie Claire (2019), Female (2019) and Prestige’s Top 40 Under 40 for verbalizing alternative stories through art and championing empowerment for the community. She is the founder of Art Battle MY (2016), and is currently working on a documentary, Antidote: Uncovering Skin & Soul (2018), while leading the #BananaLeaf2020 Art Collective, and volunteers with GoodKids to develop young visual artists. Read more about her here.


Date: 26 June
Time: 10AM-7PM (optional dinner from 7PM-8PM)
Location: Amnesty International Malaysia, C-3-23, 8 Avenue Section, 8, Jalan Sungai Jernih 8/1, Seksyen 8 Petaling Jaya, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

(June 26th-September 26th: mentorship from Rupa Subramaniam for selected artists)

APPLY HERE: Deadline June 19th 2022

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