Hundreds of women in yellow t-shirts calling for the release of Maria Chin Abdullah, a prominent feminist and human rights activist, marched on the parliamentary building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday. Chin, the 60-year-old chairperson of pro-democracy activist group Bersih 2.0, was arrested last Friday on the eve of a massive anti-corruption protest organized by the group. Despite the fact that Chin suffers from hypertension and osteoarthritis, she is reportedly being held in solitary confinement in a cell without windows — treatment that the Joint Action Group for Gender Equity said “[amounted] to torture.”
While at least 10 other activists arrested at the same time as Chin have since been released, Chin remains detained under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act, or SOSMA, an antiterrorism law that allows the government to hold suspects for up to 28 days with trial. According to the All Women’s Action Society, a feminist organization Chin helped found in 1985, it is the first time that SOSMA has ever been used to detain a woman human rights activist.
Despite Chin’s arrest, tens of thousands donned yellow to protest the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Najib Razak on Saturday in Kuala Lampur. Najib is alleged to have embezzled nearly $700 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. Hundreds more have flocked to the candlelight vigils that Bersih has pledged to hold every night until Chin’s release — former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad among them.
“My mother is a very strong person,” said Aziman Yunus, one of Chin’s three sons. “If you’re trying to break her will, no, you won’t.”
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