Tian Chua is a long time political activist and member of the human rights group Suaram. He has campaigned for greater political freedom in the wake of the conviction of former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim. On April 10th 2001, Tian Chua was arrested under the Malaysian Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly helping to organize an April 14th rally to commemorate the second anniversary of the imprisonment of former Deputy Prime Minister Ibrahim. He was denied visits for 43 days and was denied access to legal counsel and medical care. Reports indicated that he was subjected to significant ill treatment while incarcerated. In view of Tian Chua’s long history of peaceful activism and the absence of any charges against him, it is widely believed that his detention was politically motivated. A habeas corpus application (a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody), filed on April 13th 2001 was dismissed by the High Court on April 25th 2001. On September 6th 2002, the Federal Court allowed the application as it applied to the first two months of detention on the basis of the illegality of that period of incarceration. At this point the authorities continued to refuse to release him.
In December 2002 the ISA review board recommended that Tian Chua and 4 other ISA detainees be released. Tian Chua was finally released from custody May 30th 2003. (Amnesty International Index ASA 28/005/2002) He reported that being held in solitary confinement was very difficult. “It was killing me…I was blindfolded and handcuffed every time I left the cell…It was deliberate mental torture…There no sunlight. The air-con and the lights were on 24 hours a day.” Tian Chua and the other 5 detainees released are suing the Malaysian government for illegal detention.