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Lena Hendry: Severe punishment sought on activist for showing Lanka film

(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – Not satisfied with the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court imposition of a RM10,000 fine on activist Lena Hendry for showing a war film on Sri Lanka , the public prosecutor in Malaysia is now filing an appeal for a more severe punishment, Malaysiakini reported.

New Sin Yew told the news portal that his client had receive a letter informing her of the decision to appeal.

“Yes, the prosecutors are appealing the RM10,000 fine. Lena received the letter informing her of the matter,” he was quoted as saying, adding that he too, was appealing against the conviction and fine.

On March 22, Hendry, who is Pusat Komas programme manager, was fined RM10,000 for airing an uncensored documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war in 2013.

The previous month, on Feb 21, she was found guilty of the charge under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act for showing No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war that lasted for 26 years.

She had committed the offence at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall here on July 3, 2013. The 93-minute documentary had not been approved by the Malaysian Censorship Board.

According to the news portal, with the respective appeals filed by both the prosecutors and the defence, the matter will now be brought to the KL High Court.

Previously, Human Rights Watch (HRW) had called the conviction a violation of Hendry’s freedom of expression, adding that it was not in line with international rights standards.

In a statement released following Hendry’s conviction, HRW said the move appeared to be motivated by Putrajaya’s desire to appease Sri Lankan embassy officials whom the NGO said had publicly demanded that the film not be shown.

“This prosecution is part of the Malaysian government’s disturbing pattern of harassment and intimidation of those seeking to raise public awareness of human rights issues,” HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson had said.

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