“You can imprison a man but you cannot imprison his spirit; you cannot imprison his ideas; you cannot imprison the ideals he stands for.” (- Freemalaysiatoday)
Some of you might not be familiar with the name Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar Ibrahim is the founder and leading figure of the People’s Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) and was the leader of the opposition coalition consisting of the parties DAP (=Democratic Action Party), PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) and until last year PAS (=Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) . The coalition is called Pakatan Rakyat.
But he hasn´t always been the leading figure of Pakatan Rakyat.
Anwar Ibrahim had a long and interesting career. Among other achievements he was the president of the “National Union Of Malaysian Muslim Students” and the president of “University of Malaya Malay Language Society” in young age.
Besides that he co- founded the “Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia”. But his political career has always been shadowed by arrests: In 1974, Anwar Ibrahim was arrested for the first time.
He was detained under the Internal Security Act. The law was replaced by another law called SOSMA (=Security Offences Special Measures Act) in 2012 and allowed detention without trial. Anwar Ibrahim spent 20 months of his life in the Kamunting Detention Centre (in the Malaysian federal state Perak), but he never gave up the struggle. After his release, he continued his political career: From 1975 until 1982 he was representative for the “Asia Pacific of World Assembly of Muslim Youth” as well as the Education Minister. Later on he became the second President of the “International Islamic University of Malaysia”.
From 1993 to 1998 he was Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and member of the Malaysian party UMNO (=United Malays National Organization), which is the controlling party in the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
Because of his trouble with the former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim was removed from his post and was jailed for corruption and sodomy in 1998. During his second detention he was kept in solitary confinement- which is a form of torture- and was beaten in police custody.
After his release Anwar Ibrahim initiated the Reformasi movements, which organized several mass demonstrations and rallies against Barisan Nasional, which has ruled the country since 1957.
In April 2008 the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat was formed.
That´s a long story for a not so old guy. Anwar Ibrahim is 69 years old. Now you know more about the person Anwar Ibrahim and his impressive career. You might even understand why he is such an important figure to many Malaysians and key figure for a whole movement. He is not just the leader of the opposition, which has challenged the government since years, but also a crucial politician who was able to link Islam to human rights. He might have been the Prime Minister the country and its people have waited for since decades.
On the downside, he has always been a threat to Barisan Nasional since his power has constantly increased: In the General Election 2012 UMNO and Barisan Nasional was denied their 2/3 majority for the first time and they obviously had to take action to secure their power.
Let me tell you a story, which marks a dark point in the Malaysian history and call into doubt the judicial independence. A period of time in which many people lost hope and faith, a period of time in which anger was running high, but maybe also a period of time in which others realized that reforms are neccessary for Malaysia.
In 2008 Anwar Ibrahims aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan lodged a police report and claimed that he had been sodomised by Anwar. Yeah, homosexuality is punishable with 20 years of prison in Malaysia. Nevertheless, Anwar Ibrahim was found NOT guilty by The High Court in 2012, but the court of appeal overturned this acquittal two years later. Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to five years in jail, but he remained free on bail while he appealed against the verdict.
But the efforts failed. On 10th of February 2015 Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to five years of prison and was sent to Sungai Buloh Prison.
This decision was criticized by several political actors (for example by the United States or the European Union) and by several human rights organizations, but words can ´t be compared with actions.
Luckily certain Malaysians organized several street prostets. They are also facing detention now.
Certain individuals who stood up against this injustice are affected:
The Malaysian cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, was arrested and is facing 10 Sedition Act charges and 43 years of jail term.
Furthermore several opposition politicians were arrested.
Among them was PKR Youth Chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Fariz Musa (PKR) who was arrested together with activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim.
But the spirit of the revolution has not been broken yet and people will never bow in front of a corrupt and injust system which is affecting Malaysians in their everyday life.
“The struggle for freedom comes with a price. The struggle for justice comes with sacrifice. This struggle will continue uninterrupted, unperturbed and unimpeded until a new dawn shines on Malaysia welcoming the establishment of a new government.”
Let´s see how long Barisan Nasional will still be able to remain its power with its dirty games.