The wife of Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee Razali Kassan was repeatedly convinced that her husband was safe in detention, only to be heartbroken after finding out yesterday that he had been frequently abused.
Speaking at a dialogue session with Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) members this morning, Nunurheni Onim, 33, said her husband had always described his incarneration as uneventful and that the authorities had treated him well.
She told commissioner Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah ( right ) that she had believed him and also believed that her husband would be well-protected under the law.
"He told me that he was fine throughout the detention every time I visited. I only heard about how he was mistreated yesterday - that he was spat on and beaten," she said.
Razali, from Johor, was detained under the ISA on Jan 4, 2011 for suspected arms smuggling activities.
He was recently hospitalised after undergoing a hunger strike .
Several detainees have gone on hunger strike because the authorities have yet to release them despite the ISA being in the process of being repealed.
According to Nunurheni, Razali told her when she visited the detention centre in Kamunting, Perak, yesterday that the authorities at centre beat him up and spat on him to try to force him to abandon his hunger strike.
“In Bahasa Indonesia, dipukul means that you are hit once, dipukul-pukul means you are beaten repeatedly. Razali first said he was dipukul , so I assumed that he was beaten once. I didn’t know about this until later,” said Nunurheni, who is an Indonesian, bursting into tears.
This is the second time Razali has gone on hunger strike, saying he would no longer wait for Suhakam to secure his release. He has ended his hunger strike after he was hospitalised.
Determined to fast to death
Nunurheni also complained that she was only allowed to meet Razali for 30 minutes when she went to visit him yesterday, as the regular one hour was reduced as a punishment for Razali for staging the strike.
She said her husband has been refusing to take solid food, surviving only on water.
“I travel for 16 hours from Johor to Kamunting to see my husband once a week, and I was only allowed to speak to him for 30 minutes.
“Even then, I didn't dare to say much to him, because the camp authorities were surrounding him. How can they do this? It's not right. It's not worth it if I come all the way from Johor to see him for such a short while.
“He told me that he is willing to continue the hunger strike until he dies if all the ISA detainees are not released,” related the mother of two.
Nunurheni is now the sole breadwinner for the family. She and her husband were running a tailoring business prior to his detention, and she is currently assisted by her in-laws.
Khairunizah Mohd Akhir, 36, the wife of detainee Mustawan Ahbab, recounted a similar experience with the detention centre authorities.
Khairunizah ( left ) said she was allowed to see her husband for 30 minutes only because Mustawan, who has been detained since September 2010, spoke about Razali’s “torture” to her over the telephone last week.
She said her husband had been “promised” early release if he “abided by the rules and behaved”.
Suhakam ticks off Kamunting authorities
Responding to their dispositions, Sha’ani urged them to lodge police reports as well as file complaint with Suhakam as the accusations were serious.
“As director and wardens of the detention centre, the centre authorities have to respect everyone, even prisoners. They shouldn’t have restricted visiting hours, besides making promises without basis,” Sha’ani lashed out.
“Be brave, come out and tell us what happened. If not to us, tell the lawyers or the NGOs. Otherwise make police reports,” he added.
On June 22, an Iraqi detainee related his torment to representatives of the Lawyers for Liberty movement, saying he was assaulted, his body smeared with chilli paste and had nude photographs of him taken during the remand period.
The “gruesome” experience of the detainee, Sami Hammad, was related in a stake of notes leaked to Malaysiakini on the Guantanamo-style interrogation methods used by the Kamunting centre authorities.
However, the police have dismissed the claims in the 'torture notes' as "malicious" and "baseless", and have not responded to Malaysiakini's queries on Hammad's claims.
Twenty Malaysians and 25 foreigners are being held in Kamunting at present, some for alleged involvement in the Darul Islam movement and others for suspected human trafficking.
Some are expected to be detained until 2014, even though the ISA was abolished in April and replaced with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, which is yet to be gazetted.
However, the new legislation does not guarantee the release of the detainees as Section 32 of the Act states that any order issued under the ISA is not affected by the repeal, unless it is revoked by the home minister.