How did SUARAM Begin?
1987 saw one of the most widespread crackdowns on social and political activists in living memory – Operasi Lalang. 106 opposition leaders, social activists, religious teachers and educationists were detained without trial under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA). Many were detained for up to 2 years.When the last of the detainees were released in 1989, the Detainees’ Family Support Group, ISA detainees and other activists formed ‘Suara Rakyat Malaysia’ or SUARAM to campaign for the abolition of the ISA. What started as a single-issue campaign evolved into an activist movement for human rights and democracy in the following years. Presently, SUARAM works towards the realisation of fundamental liberties, democracy and justice in Malaysia.
What does SUARAM mean by Human Rights?
SUARAM is guided by the principles laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and believes in the universality, interdependence and indivisibility of all rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural. This means, for example, that the right to genuine development is just as important as it is dependent on the right to freedom of expression. The Malaysian government reaffirmed this stand in various international fora including the 1993 Unite Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.
SUARAM specializes in civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; right to fair trial; freedom from torture, extra-judicial killings and cruel punishment; public accountability and genuine democracy-building. Together with other partner NGOs who work on economic, social and cultural rights in Malaysia, we are able to collectively and comprehensively address all human rights. SUARAM believes in international solidarity and actively supports democracy and human rights movement in the Asian region, in particularly South East Asia.
Is SUARAM partisan?
SUARAM is an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organisation. We will always be on the side of victims of human rights violations, the poor and the oppressed, without fear or favour. Our mandate is enshrined in the Malaysian Human Rights Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus SUARAM’s main objective is the protection and realisation of human rights in Malaysia regardless of the government-of-the-day.
How is SUARAM funded?
SUARAM is funded by donations and grants from public and private sources. However, the most important source comes from private donations, local fund-raising events, sales of books and campaign merchandise. Funds are accepted strictly on the basis of non-interference of donors.
How does SUARAM operate?
SUARAM is guided by principles laid out in the Malaysia Human Rights Charters, a charter of basic human rights endorsed by over 50 NGOs and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. An elected Secretariat oversees policy decisions and planning of the organization. SUARAM’s work is supplemented by a team of coordinators, project officers and volunteers. The annual general consultation plans and reviews SUARAM programmes and activities.
In addition, SUARAM has two regional offices in Northern and Southern Peninsula Malaysia, headed by coordinators and local volunteers.
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