Bersih co-chair Maria Chin Abdullah freed from detention

Bersih co-chair Maria Chin Abdullah freed from detention

The head of electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah was released on Monday (Nov 28) after 11 days in detention, according to a tweet by the group's former co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan.

KUALA LUMPUR: The head of electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah was released on Monday (Nov 28) after 11 days in detention.

"Maria Chin Abdullah is FREE!" read a post on the Bersih 2.0 Facebook page.

The group's former co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan tweeted: "Our dear friend Maria has been set free! Praise God! She is with me and is well!!!" Sreenevasan also tweeted pictures of Maria arriving home.

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Maria was arrested on Nov 18, a day ahead of a mass demonstration that called for governmental reform and transparency in the wake of a corruption scandal surrounding Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Malaysia's Special Offences Special Measures Act 2012 (SOSMA) was evoked to detain her without trial for up to 28 days.

Her lawyers filed an application for habeas corpus, challenging the use of SOSMA and asking the High Court to compel the police to release her.

Prior to Maria's release, supporters had been keeping up the pressure on authorities to free her, holding candlelight vigils and organising petitions. Bersih's secretariat manager said a planned vigil at Kuala Lumpur's Dataran Merdeka was still on for Monday night.

Earlier on Monday, police also raided the office of Empower Malaysia, a women's rights organisation where Maria was previously executive director.

Empower Malaysia member Honey Tan said via her Twitter account that lawyers were barred by police from entering the organisation's office during the raid.

A police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bebas Maria twt on Empower Malaysia's office

"MORE WORK TO BE DONE"

At the evening vigil at Dataran Merdeka, Maria told a cheering crowd: "Long live the people, I'm freed because of you."

"There's more work to be done," she added, to shouts of "Bersih! Bersih!" from those present.

Mel Goh twt Bersih Maria Chin freed vigil fragment 1

She also said her priority was to abolish the SOSMA, and that she was not fearful even though she could be held on other charges.

The Bersih leader also said that she wanted to start a campaign to register new voters, and that defeating the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the UMNO government was possible in the next general election.

She also refuted claims that she had received funds from billionaire investor George Soros, whom pro-government "Red Shirts" said is funding pro-reform groups in Malaysia to bring down Mr Najib's government. She said that Bersih accounts were transparent and available on the Internet for all to see.

Source: CNA/Agencies/nc

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