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Malaysia: ADN Condemns Travel Ban of Bersih Activist


May 17, 2016

The Asia Democracy Network condemns the barring by Malaysian authorities of Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah, a member of the Berish Movement, from boarding a plane oppressing her basic freedoms on route to South Korea. Ms. Abdullah was held at immigration without clear reason and prevented from leaving the country. As one of the leaders of the Berish Clean and Free Elections movement in Malaysia, Ms. Abdullah was scheduled to attend the Gwangju Human Rights Awards Ceremony in Gwangju, Korea to receive an award on behalf of the movement.

The Bersih movement has played a key role in bringing electoral reform as a national agenda, mobilizing masses of people to come together to advocate for free and fair elections. These rallies have become a platform for Malaysians to raise awareness on various political issues. The movement, have been praised for closing the gaps in culture, religion, and between ethnic groups. The Bersih movement has become a model of a successful social movement for the international community.

Since 2000, the May 18 Memorial Foundation based in Gwangju Korea have been recognizing human rights and democracy activists and movements through the Gwangju Prize for Human Right to promote the spirit of the May 18 Democratization Movement in which the people of Gwangju resisted the military regime and fought for democracy and human rights in Korea. The prestigious prize highlights and recognizes individuals and organizations that have struggled for or contributed to the movement for the advancement of human rights, democracy, and peace. Laureates include the democracy movement and activists of Burma and Sombath Somphone of Laos to name a few.

This year, the Bersih Movement have been chosen to receive the prize to recognize the movement’s strength of the country to mobilize and advocate for democracy and human rights in the face of the growing challenges and shrinking civil society space.

This is not the first time that Malaysian authorities have used draconian tactics to oppress democracy activists from leaving the country. The ADN condemns the Malaysian authorities in using these tactics to oppress basic democratic principles of freedom of expression and association. We urge Malaysia to respect fundamental freedoms and democratic principles to move the country forward.

The Asia Democracy Network stands with the people of Malaysia and pledges to work with them to bring democratic change to the country.



The Asia Democracy Network (ADN) is a civil society led multi-stakeholders’ platform dedicated to the strengthening of democracy and civil society. The primary aim of ADN is to build a stronger regional democracy network and movement engaged effectively with governments, inter-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in Asia and beyond. ADN’s thematic issues range from election, transparency, human rights, press freedom, development to peace. We work closely with regional and sub-regional partners and their member organizations to reach stakeholders in various countries in Asia. ADN strives to enable civil societies in Asia to be vibrant and independent by amplifying advocacy and setting agenda.