Sunday, August 05, 2007


03 August 2007

AI Index: ASA 28/002/2007
UA 200/07

Fear for safety/ torture or ill-treatment


Ayu (f), aged 44
Other transsexual individuals in Malaysia

Ayu, a male-to-female transsexual, was seriously beaten by state
religious officials who detained her while she was talking to friends
at the Old Melaka bus station in Kota Melaka, Melaka (Malacca) state,
southwest Malaysia at around 11.30pm on 30 July. Ayu may be at risk of
further abuse, and other transsexual people may also be in danger.

Ayu was reportedly approached by three enforcement officers from the
Melaka Islamic Religious Affairs Department (Jabatan Agama Islam
Melaka, JAIM), a local government body tasked with enforcing social
norms based on Sharia law. The officials, all dressed in civilian
clothes, reportedly punched and kicked Ayu when they detained her. One
of them reportedly kicked her hard in the genital area. They only
identified themselves as JAIM officials when bystanders intervened to
try to prevent the assault. When she said she was in serious pain,
they took her briefly to the local JAIM office, before transferring
her to Melaka General Hospital. She had to undergo surgery on 31 July
for a pre-existing abdominal hernia condition, which had been
aggravated by the assault.

JAIM ordered the hospital authorities to report the names of other
transsexuals who came to visit Ayu in hospital. It is unclear whether
any were reported, but Amnesty International fears that other
transsexual people in Melaka, and in Malaysia generally, may face
similar abuses.

According to media reports, a JAIM official later clarified the
reasons for Ayu's detention, namely that she had committed the
`offence' of `men dressing up as women in a public space' which is
punishable with a fine of RM1,000 (approx. US$288), a six-month prison
sentence or both under Section 72 of the Melaka Sharia Offences
Enactment. However, a social worker with the Malaysian
non-governmental organization, Pink Triangle, claimed that the
officials had contravened procedures by failing to take Ayu to a
police station after they detained her.

Ayu was discharged from hospital on 2 August. It appears that JAIM
officials have not yet pressed charges against her, agreeing to
release her on `compassionate' grounds under a guarantee from a
friend. However, the officials reportedly warned Ayu that if she
failed to appear in court when charged, her friend would be fined
RM1,000 (approx US$288). In response to media questions, a JAIM
official reportedly denied the assault allegations claiming that Ayu
was sent to hospital because `she was sick'.

Abuses against transsexual people appear to be rising in Malaysia at
the hands of both the ordinary police and so-called `religious police'
like JAIM. There are fears that such actions may be creating a climate
of viligantism among community groups and society at large against
those whose sexuality or gender identity is perceived to deviate from
the `norm'.

In April 2007, it was reported that the authorities in Terengganu
state were planning to set up a `rehabilitation centre' for
transsexual people due to fears that men were becoming more
`effeminate' and that many transsexual people were `back to their old
habit' even after serving time in prison.

While the scope and target of their operations may differ in different
parts of the country, `religious police' may impose sanctions on
anyone deemed to be engaged in `indecent behaviour', such as
transsexual people, couples kissing in public (both mixed and
same-sex), Muslim women deemed to be dressed inappropriately, or even
young people wearing punk-style clothing.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
possible, in English, Malay or your own language:
- urging the authorities to conduct a full, immediate and independent
investigation into allegations that Ayu was assaulted by JAIM
religious affairs officers and to ensure that those found responsible
for the violence against Ayu are brought to justice;
- calling for immediate guarantees that Ayu and other transsexuals in
Melaka, will not be subjected to further abuse from JAIM officers;
- calling on the authorities not to press any charges against Ayu
which are based on her gender identity and violate her fundamental
human rights to freedom of expression and freedom from non-discrimination;
- expressing concern that JAIM ordered the hospital to report other
transsexuals visiting Ayu and calling on the authorities to ensure
that transsexual people in hospital are able to receive visitors
without harassment or discrimination and in line with regular hospital
practice for all patients;
- urging the authorities to reform all laws, regulations and policies
which discriminate against transsexual people in violation of their
human rights.

Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam
Chief Minister of Melaka
Aras 1, Blok Temenggong,
Seri Negeri, Hang Tuah Jaya,
75450 Ayer Keroh, Melaka, Malaysia
Fax: +60 6232 8620
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister

Dato' Alias bin Md. Saad
Director, Islamic Religious Department of Melaka
Jabatan Agama Islam Melaka (JAIM)
Imarah B, Kompleks MAIM, Bukit Palah, 75150 Melaka, Malaysia
Fax: +60 6283 4022
Salutation: Dear Director

ACP Johari bin Yahaya
Chief of Police
IPD Melaka Tengah
PDRM, Jalan Banda Kaba, 75561 Melaka, Malaysia
Fax: +60 6282 3848
Salutation: Dear Chief of Police

Prime Minister
Dato' Sri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Pejabat Perdana Menteri
Aras 1, Blok Utama, Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Fax: +60 8888 3444

and to diplomatic representatives of Malaysia accredited to your country.


Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if
sending appeals after 14 September 2007.