Press Statement

Abuse of power and overkill to bar Indonesian activist from entering Malaysia

7 January 2016


Lawyers for Liberty is shocked and appalled that prominent Indonesian ‘reformasi’ activist Mugiyanto was barred from entering the country today at KLIA 2 airport and deported back to Indonesia.


As no clear reasons were given for barring him from entering into Malaysia, we can only assume that he was barred due to his speaking engagement at Bersih’s #YellowMania forum titled “People’s movement can bring change” this evening.


We further note that other progressive activists like Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong and Indonesian scholar Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla were also previously barred from entering Malaysia for no other reason than their speaking engagements.


While immigration laws provide wide discretion for the immigration authorities to regulate the entry and departure of foreigners, they must be reminded that these powers must be exercised properly and not for any ulterior motives.


Needless to say, barring Mugiyanto from entering the country in order to prevent him from speaking at a civil society forum is clearly an abuse of power and an overkill reaction to what should be a norm in a democratic state that values fundamental freedoms and exchange of ideas.


We call upon the authorities to immediately lift the travel ban on Mugiyanto and other activists who have not done anything unlawful or harmful to Malaysia to justify such high handed and arbitrary treatment unbecoming of a modern and democratic state.


Released by:

Eric Paulsen

Executive Director

Lawyers for Liberty


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