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Fwd: Dr Anees to Lariba Letter
By web aNtu

1/9/2000 7:12 pm Fri

To: Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman From: "Dr. Munawar A. Anees"

Dr. Yahia Abdul Rahman, Founder
American Finance House
750 East Green Street, Suite 210
Pasadena, CA 91101

Dear Dr. Abdul Rahman,
Assalamu Alaikum:

I hope by now you have learnt of the factors agitating a sustained public outrage against Mahathir bin Iskandar, Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The Islamic Society of North America, one of the largest Muslim umbrella organizations, has recently rescinded an invitation to Mahathir to speak at their annual convention in Chicago next month. This decision by ISNA has been widely applauded for it stands to show that Muslims will not tolerate anyone who violates the rights of fellow Muslims and in the same breath dares to sermozine them on Muslim unity. The forked tongue and a bellicose hypocrisy is, therefore, no longer polarized politics but an issue of wider Muslim concern.

Whatever has reached your eyes and ears on Mahathir's misdeeds is a derived narrative. None of those who have written to you protesting the proposed award to Mahathir by your esteemed organization have sustained any direct brunts from the brutal and terrorizing paraphernalia that Mahathir maintains under the pretense of a democracy. This, by no means, dilutes the essence of their message.

Through this submission, however, I would like to draw your kind attention to the plight of an individual and his family who were specifically and personally targeted by Mahathir towards his nefarious conspiracy to topple Anwar Ibrahim. That individual happens to be the undersigned.

For your kind perusal, I am enclosing herewith one of the few pieces that I wrote in the aftermath of those 126 torturous days that I was forced to spend under Mahathir's captivity. I have been kept from writing more simply because of a chronic disability induced courtesy of my captors. I continue to suffer from memory loss, nightmares, irritability and general psychiatric disorder of concentration.

Please spend a few moments reading the first hand account of the criminal deeds of Mahathir and his clandestine operations. If nothing else, it should evoke the call of human conscience in you as it did in literally hundreds of thousands of readers all over the world. I remember from one school in Canada alone I received nearly thirty letters of young children who cried after reading this piece and made a pledge to upold human dignity.

I am aware that the prestigious LaRiba Award has been bestowed upon Muslim men of accomplishment. I feel honored that one of the awardees, Professor Khurshid Ahmad, is both a mentor and a dear friend. At least two others - Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel and Professor Najatullah Siddiqui - are known to me in a professional relationship.

After knowing Mahathir's brutality against Anwar Ibrahim, Sukma Darmawan, Nallakaruppan, myself and our families, would you still insist that he joined the august company of LaRiba Awardees? In consonance with a great number of Muslims and people who respect human dignity and freedom, I do not consider Mahathir worthy of this honor.

With best regards.


Dr. Munawar A. Anees
Former Prisoner of Conscience - Malaysia [Amnesty International] Former Writer in Prison - Malaysia [Pen International]


HOSTAGE TO MAHATHIR: Living With Open Wounds

Dr. Munawar A. Anees

A large inscription on the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington -- "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny upon the mind of man" -- impressed me deeply on my first visit to the United States as a student nearly a quarter of a century ago.

Recently, with the tears of experience welling in my eyes, I revisited that site. My arbitrary arrest and torture in Malaysia had engraved Jefferson's inscription on my heart.

As a student I knew of the horrors of the Holocaust and other human tragedies, but merely as a distant thunder: The violation of human rights and crimes against humanity were only an abstract notion.

That was all fated to change with my arrest last year under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) of Malaysia, which allows for indefinite detention without trial. My crime? I had known Anwar Ibrahim, the deputy prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia, as a close personal friend for many years.

We shared and strove for a vision of life firmly rooted in human dignity. We struggled for building an intellectual and political milieu for free expression. Together, we subscribed to the idea of economic prosperity, gender and racial equality and a civil society.

Alas, the Malaysian dictator, Mahathir, under the growing burden of corruption and cronyism, conspired to halt the march of freedom. In order to build his fraudulent case against Anwar, Mahathir himself ordered my arrest.

My kidnapping and detention by the infamous Malaysian Special Branch taught me how it feels to be forcibly separated from one's wife and children. How it feels to be searched and seized, disallowed to make phone calls, handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped naked, driven in an animal cage, shaven bald, endlessly interrogated, humiliated, drugged, deprived of sleep, physically abused. What it's like to be threatened, blackmailed, tormented by police lawyers, brutalized to make a totally false confession, hospitalized for a consequent heart ailment, and treated as a psychiatric patient with symptoms of Stockholm syndrome.

Barely surviving on a meager diet of rancid rice and chicken along with 12 medicines a day, I spent nearly four months handcuffed around the clock to my hospital bed, under the watchful eyes of the prison guards.

Thereafter, my ability to speak, read and write took a considerable time to show signs of recovery. Short-term memory lapses were frequent. I existed in a fluid state in which suicidal tendencies, depression and despair were punctuated by fits of rage and indignation.

Weekly visits of less than an hour by my wife, Nadia, with our young children -- Aisha and Omran -- were my only contact with the outside world and the only inspiration to live on.

In collusion with the lawyer appointed on my behalf by the police, the Malaysian authorities refused the legal assistance of my choice, coercing me not to mount an appeal against the court verdict and threatening me with greater punishment under new charges if I didn't co-operate.

Simultaneously, Nadia constantly endured police harassment, wiretapping and disruption of our e-mail and bank accounts. Some of our friends were met with the same fate and were compelled to abandon us when we needed them most.

But, in attempting to scare off and alienate my friends, how terribly mistaken were Malaysian autocrats in aping gross Gestapo tactics. How they underestimated the temper of freedom in so many places around the world, above all among friends in the West.

Floodgates of human compassion were opened when my friend the futurist author Alvin Toffler, who Mahathir asked to advise him on a pet high-technology project, sent a message of protest to the Malaysian leader within 72 hours of my capture. In a major interview with the Western press, Mahathir even felt it necessary to make assurances -- unfulfilled, of course -- about my well being.

With every passing day, the rising tide of concern for my plight seemed to personify the words of Elie Wiesel: "Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor. Never the victim. Never the tormented."

Friends and strangers alike took a stand and support began to mushroom everywhere. Nadia related to me in the hospital how Amnesty International had declared me a "prisoner of conscience," and how Pen International adopted me as a "writer in prison." Against all odds, two prominent Malaysian lawyers, Manjeet Singh Dhillon and Balwant Singh Siddhu, offered their services unconditionally. To top it all, an international coalition -- Friends of Dr. Anees -- came into existence in defence of my rights. The core group of Naseer Ahmad, Baseer Hai, Safir Rammah, Jamal Mubarak, Anees Ahmad and Naeem Siddiqui mounted a media campaign with phenomenal success.

What touched my heart was that the person, Kamal Mubarak, who set up the Web site had never met me in person. From the depths of my confinement, I could see the magic of human compassion had begun to defeat oppression.

The pinnacle was reached after my release in the warm hug laced with watery eyes of an Amnesty friend in Toronto, Margaret John, who witnessed a pledge of solidarity between me and Devan Nair, the former president of Singapore, for we had come to share a similar fate.

My victimization at the hands of Mahathir's "Asian values" has transformed me in another way. All my adult life, like so many in the Muslim world, I have suspected under every nook and cranny some conspiracy by the West to keep us down. Yet, in this seminal experience of my life, my friends in the West succeeded in saving me, while Mahathir, a Muslim, did everything to destroy me. And he is trying to do the same to Anwar again through his obliging courts on totally fabricated charges.

Mahathir has demonstrated that, though a proclaimed Muslim, his heart is blind to compassion. Tyranny is the hallmark of his bankrupt concept of "Asian values."

My tragedy, and that of my friend Anwar, ought to make our fellow Muslims think very hard when they ponder the West and its role in the world. As we set out to shape our collective destiny in the 21st century, will the values of Mahathir or Jefferson serve us best? Mahathir himself made that choice for me. Sic semper tyrannis.


I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny upon the mind of man. Thomas Jefferson