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Malaysian pro-democracy leader released from solitary confinement


Kuala Lumpur  – Malaysian pro-democracy leader Maria Chin Abdullah was released from solitary confinement on Monday, more than a week after being arrested on the eve of a mass anti-government rally.

The prominent activist was detained on November 18, a day before tens of thousands of Malaysians marched through Kuala Lumpur to call for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s resignation and fresh elections.

Maria serves as the chairperson for a coalition of pro-democracy groups called Bersih 2.0. Her arrest drew international condemnation.


She had been detained under a Security Offences act, which allowed for her detention for up to 28 days.


October 20, 2016 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Maria Chin Abdullah(60, C), chairperson of the coalition of Malaysian NGOs and activist groups known as Bersih, speaks with journalists in Kuala Lumpur. Credit Image: © Chris Jung/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

Her lawyers had filed a habeas corpus application seeking her immediate release. The court hearing had been set for Tuesday.

Shortly after her release, Maria told reporters that she intended to take legal action against the authorities over her detention.

“I am not a terrorist and Bersih is not a terrorist organization,” the 60-year-old mother of three said.

While in custody she was questioned every day for hours, Maria said, adding that she has been told the investigation against her was ongoing.

Bersih is calling for Najib to step down and accuses him of “grand corruption.”

Najib has been at the centre of a corruption scandal since July 2015, when a Wall Street Journal report suggested that 673 million dollars in his personal bank accounts had been siphoned off from the beleaguered 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

Bersih’s office was raided on November 18 while several opposition and Bersih leaders were arrested before and after the rally.

Nightly gatherings had been held at various locations, including Kuala Lumpur’s central Merdeka Square, to call for her release.