Stop Malaysia’s crackdown on courageous environmental activist

Photo montage of Sarawak Report’s Clare Rewcastle Brown and a forest being cleared A thorn in the side of a corrupt elite: Clare Rewcastle Brown (© Erwin Zbinden/mongabay.com)
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End of campaign: Dec 18, 2015

Malaysia has issued a warrant for the arrest of investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown. Her “crime”: exposing the unholy alliance of the timber mafia and highest levels of government. Tell Malaysia to fight environmental destruction, not the courageous individuals who bring the truth to light!

Call to action

To: Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Prime Minister Najib Razak; cc: Interpol

Fight high-level corruption and deforestation in Malaysia, not those who bring it to light.

Read letter

Sarawak’s timber companies are relentless – not even the most pristine, biodiverse forests are safe from them. Their greed is abetted by friends in the highest places: former Chief Minister Taib Mahmud is said to have pocketed billions as the alleged gray eminence of the Malaysian state’s timber mafia. Corruption and deforestation are tightly intertwined in Sarawak.

London-based investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown has spent years exposing the drivers of deforestation in her blog, Sarawak Report. The Malaysian government is now striking back: in early August, it issued a warrant for her arrest. The government accuses her of engaging in “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” and publishing false reports that “caused concern in the minds of the public”. If convicted on both counts, she could face 25 years in prison.

Rewcastle Brown had provoked the Malaysian government’s ire by reporting that nearly $700 million had been paid into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment fund.

The journalist is convinced that her e-mail has been hacked, as her contacts in Malaysia have been arrested. She has been put under police protection after being stalked and photographed around London.

The Rewcastle Brown case is typical of the heavy hand with which the Malaysian government deals with its critics. She has little doubt about the government's motives: “I’m not scared, this isn’t about intimidating me, this is about intimidating [Malaysia’s] own domestic population.”

When critical journalists are silenced and corrupt businessmen and officials are left unfettered, democracy, the people and the environment all suffer. Please join us in telling the Malaysian government to combat corruption – not those who bring it to light.

Letter

To: Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Prime Minister Najib Razak; cc: Interpol

Your Majesty,
Your Excellency,

Numerous people engaged in exposing corruption in Malaysia have been subject to harassment. A warrant was issued in early August for the arrest of investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown, founder of the Sarawak Report blog. Extradition requests have been filed with Interpol and Aseanpol.

Rewcastle Brown brought to light the embezzlement of billions of public funds through 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund. For years, she has written about rainforest destruction in Sarawak and the corruption that frequently drives it.

The Rewcastle Brown case illustrates the heavy hand with which Malaysia’s government deals with its critics: “This isn’t about intimidating me, this is about intimidating [Malaysia’s] own domestic population,” she explained.

When critical journalists are silenced and corrupt businessmen and officials are left unfettered, democracy in Malaysia, the people and the remaining rainforests all suffer.

Please retract the arrest warrant for Clare Rewcastle Brown and restore public access to the Sarawak Report blog. I call on you to combat corruption rather than those who bring it to light. Anything else would damage the international reputation of Malaysia.

Kind regards,