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Monday, July 09, 2007

No Self-Incrimination?

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Walski's Intro Note: From time to time, reader's of myAsylum leave comments that are worthy of full posts. The following, from Juslo, is one of them, and was left in relation to two previous posts, here and here. The comment posted here has been edited slightly for style, flow and language, but with the contents essentially intact.

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe fears of some of us about self-incrimination were right (unfortunately).

Wan Zafran has tried to assure us that the criminal provisions criminalizing apostasy would NOT apply to someone who is applying for an apostasy order at the syariah court, in his post, entitled Lina Joy, The Decision (Counsel’s Explanation).

But he was WRONG, it seems.

The syariah court system itself HAS ANSWERED the qeustions/fears we had - in the recent Revathi case.

It seems that it's NOT TRUE that the syariah criminal provisions punishing acts apostasy would not be applied to punish somebody for applying to the syariah court for an apostasy order. they DO apply.

In other words, Justice Richard Malanjum was CORRECT to say that to send Lina Joy to Syariah Court would be SELF-INCRIMINATION, and the majority of the Federal Court was telling us is a BIG FAT LIE.

So, the Lina Joy majority decision could be summed up as: go bang your head on the syariah court wall, don't come to civil court. If u bleed, KEEP banging. Any other person who still wishes to defend the majority's decision in Lina Joy, please show that I am WRONG... please. Because I WANT TO BE WRONG.
(Juslo's wrong proven right, and left wanting, in the full post)

Walski's in-post note: The following are excerpts quoted by Juslo to justify his statement above. Sources and links are provided for each of the articles mentioned.

From Harakah: Kes Siti Fatimah: PAS, Umno perlu bincang bersama
by Roslan SMS

"Pada 23 Jun 2006 Siti Fatimah telah mengemukakan permohonan di Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Melaka untuk keluar dari Islam dan menukar namanya dari nama Islam ke nama Hindunya atas alasan beliau tidak lagi menganut Islam, telah berkahwin dengan V. Suresh menurut agama Hindu dan kini mempunyai seorang anak Diviya Dharhini hasil dari perkahwinan itu.

Mahkamah walau bagaimanapun telah mengeluarkan perintah menahan Siti Fatimah untuk 100 hari mulai 8 Januari tahun ini (dan kemudiannya dilanjutkan ke 80 hari lagi) di Pusat berkenaan dan perintah tersebut disahkan oleh Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Selangor yang diberi kuasa ke atas responden memandangkan pusat tersebut berada di Selangor.
From The Malaysian Bar Council:
Revathi, that’s my name - forever
Friday, 06 July 2007, 04:45pm
Malaysiakini (Used by permission)
by Andrew Ong and Ng Lin Fong

Woman released from Islamic rehab camp

M Revathi, 29, still steadfastly wants to remain a Hindu, despite her six month detention by religious authorities and ongoing efforts to make her a Muslim.

“My name is Revathi. I want to hold on to that name - forever. I want to drop the name Siti Fatimah,” Revathi, sporting pottu (Hindu symbol) on her forehead, told reporters outside the Shah Alam High Court today.

Born Siti Fatimah Abdul Karim to Muslim convert parents, she was called Revathi Masoosai by the grandmother who raised her.

She married to V Suresh in 2004 according to Hindu rites and has a 18-month old daughter.

In January this year, Revathi was detained at the Malacca Syariah High Court when she attended a hearing over her application to have her official religious status be recognised as a Hindu.

She was detained at the court and subsequently held at the Ulu Yam religious rehabilitation camp in Selangor for six months until she was freed yesterday.

Speaking about her experience inside the camp, Revathi today described that she was subjected to ‘mental torture’ and claimed that she defied attempts to coerce her to follow religious classes.

“Their programmes are solely on religion. (There were also) prayer classes. I never attended (any of them). I only attended counselling. During counselling, they said I had to do this and that. They said I had to follow (religious) laws. I just buat tidak tahu (ignore).

“I argued that I had a right to choose my religion, but they replied that I should not talk about (my) rights,” said Revathi who is presently living with her Muslim parents as ordered by the religious authorities.

‘Many ran away’
She claimed that many had run away from the ‘jail-like’ conditions of the camp but she had not.

“A lot of people ran away, even though (the camp was for Muslims). Though I’m a Hindu, I could bertahan (bear with the conditions), because I’m upholding the good name of Hinduism,” she added.

During her detention, she was not allowed visits. Recalling the only time she got to see her husband during her detention, Revathi said:

“Even though I was not allowed to meet my husband, I got to see him (standing) outside the camp, without their permission. I saw his car and I ran towards the fence. It was only once (I got to see him during the detention). After that, they (from the centre) dragged me away.

“Before, it was not enclosed. Now, they used zinc (sheets) to surround the area. You can’t see inside and we won’t know who is outside,” she said.

The emotional moment where Revathi and Suresh were momentarily reunited was captured on film by Al-Jazeera and aired on April 23 in current affairs programme Everywoman.

Revathi was initially detained for 80 days at the camp but her detention was extended for 100 days twice. Her stint ended yesterday when she was presented before the Malacca Syariah Court.

‘Waste of my time’
She was ordered to live with her parents and undergo counselling. She lamented that she was “unsatisfied” with the decisions made by the court.

“They held me for six months, only to say that I cannot leave Islam. If that is the case, they should have told me earlier, so I don’t have to go into the centre.

“Who’s going to compensate for the six months I was there? (It is a) waste of my time! I was separated from my child and husband. How are they going to compensate?” she asked.

“I have a right to choose my religion. In six months, they cannot make me change my mind, how can they do it now?”

She also said that religious officials tried to force her to pray, eat beef and wear a headscarf.

"Because of their behaviour, I hate (benci) Islam even more now," she added.

--------- o ---------

Woman released from Islamic rehab camp
by Andrew Ong

A woman who had been forcibly separated from her Hindu husband and 18-month-old baby girl on the grounds of her religion has been released from custody in an Islamic rehabilitation camp yesterday.

However, the woman - Revathi Masoosai, according to her husband V Suresh, or Siti Fatimah, according to her parents and religious authorities - is prohibited from staying with her husband.

Yesterday, the woman was brought to the Malacca Syariah High Court where she was told that she was freed from the Ulu Yam rehabilitation camp in Selangor.

She had been held there for six months.

The court also ruled that she must stay with her Muslim parents, along with her child. The baby has been looked after by Revathi's parents since she was sent to the rehabilitation camp in January.

Revathi was also told that she could not convert out of Islam.

Suresh had previously claimed that she was not a practising Muslim, but a Hindu born to Muslim parents. The couple is from Malacca.

Revathi told reporters that the rehabilitation camp was like a prison and that religious officials tried to force her to pray and wear headscarf.

"Because of their behaviour, I hate (benci) Islam even more now," she added.

Case in court
The habeas corpus application today to seek her release was to have been heard this morning at the Shah Alam High Court.

However at the court proceedings, lawyers for the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Jais) Mohamad Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the matter has been rendered academic and redundant following her release from the rehabilitation camp yesterday.

Suresh’s lawyer Karpal Singh on the other hand told the court that the matter must be heard as it was a matter of public interest as it would set a precedence for similar cases.

In the end the court agreed with Haniff and dismissed the application.

Justice Su Geok Yiam said she allowed preliminary objections from Haniff that the Shah Alam High Court had no jurisdiction on grounds that Revathi was no longer in detention.

“The law is clear on this. If the subject of a habeas corpus application is released, then the courts have no jurisdiction to hear the application,” said Justice Su after a one-hour recess to make the ruling.

In an immediate response, Karpal said he would file an appeal at the Federal Court on Monday.

Representatives from the Bar Council, Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism and the Melaka Islamic Religious Council (Maim) were also present to observe proceedings.

From The Malaysian Bar Council:
Syariah Court dismisses Revathi's application to renounce Islam
Contributed by Desmond Ho Chee Cheong
Friday, 06 July 2007, 08:01pm

MALACCA, Fri: Revathi’s (aka Siti Fatimah) application to seek the Malacca Syariah High Court’s order to renounce her religion came up for hearing at 4.00pm on Thursday 5 July 2007.

We were informed earlier on that the judge would hold his court in session at 3.00pm but we were kept waiting with Revathi who was dressed in a green coloured saree.

Tuah bin Atan was the syariah lawyer acting for Majlis Agama Islam Melaka, and the Bar Council held a watching brief through Nizam Bashir.

The Malacca Bar Committee showed its concern for the case and had in attendance a sizeable number of lawyers, including its Chair, Ng Kong Peng.

The learned judge was informed by Tuah that the maximum 6 months rehabilitation period has lapsed and would have expired at 12am that night and upon reading the progress report of the officer in charge of the rehabilitation centre in Ulu Yam, Tuah went on to state that there was a possibility of repentance on Revathi’s part and thus a recommendation was made for continual counseling sessions with the hope that she would return to embrace Islam.

The judge then asked Revathi whether she still insisted on proceeding with the application to renounce Islam and she answered in the affirmative. Nizam Bashir then requested the court’s indulgence to take into consideration that Revathi is an adult before delivering his judgment.

Revathi was then allowed to speak once again and she courageously told the court that she has two families and despite her filial duties to her parents, she also has a duty to her own family with husband. However, Tuah brought to the court's attention that, subject to proof, Revathi has only one recognised family, i.e. her parents.

The learned judge then informed the court that he would allow Revathi’s parents to speak in court . When both of them appeared, they informed the court that they wished for their daughter to be placed in their custody.

The learned judge then delivered his judgment and stated that in Islam there is no compulsion and there is a recognition of the concept of freedom of religion provided in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. However, this freedom of religion, according to him, meant that no one can be compelled to be a Muslim. The learned judge went on to state that once a person has embraced Islam, that person cannot leave Islam. He went on and remarked that in Islam, in the instance of a man, the punishment of death is permissible in 3 instances, namely, murder, adultery and apostasy. For a woman, in the event she renounces her religion, the sentence would be indefinite imprisonment until she repents. The learned judge explained that in Islam, religion is not merely between Man and God but between Man, God and community and a person renouncing Islam would affect the community. The learned judge apparently equated apostasy to treason in western civilization and stated that in many countries around the world, treason is a serious offence as it is of national security concern and punishable by the harshest penal sentence.

Despite Nizam’s earlier plea to take into consideration Revathi’s adult status, the learned judge dismissed the application seeking an order to renounce Islam and ordered Revathi to be placed in the custody of her parents and that she would undergo continual counseling sessions.

Walski's end-note: And so, the assertion that an application to apostasize made in the Syariah court CAN be self-incriminating, probably depending on which state court the application is made. The assurances made by Wan Zafran in his blog, as have been proven, are either empty assurances, or worse, the counsel who wrote the contents of that post did so knowing full well that it was untrue. Walski thanks Juslo for his effort in bringing this matter to the attention of Walski, and the bloggerhood. Again, Walski asks: Justice, or "Just Us"?