Malaysia’s film censorship board (LPF) has been raising critical eyes after human rights activist Lena Hendry was fined $2,260 on Thursday for screening a film that a Malaysian court declared illegal.
The documentary at the center of the guilty verdict, was No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, a 49-min film that centers on the genocide in the island nation. The courts claim the screening violated the 2002 Film Censorship Act.
Hendry faced the possibility of serving a three-year jail stint for either possessing or showing the film without having Censorship Board approval. Fortunately, she was able to pay the fine ahead of its 4 p.m. deadline.
The activist works for Pusat Komas, a human rights organization in Malaysia that works to empower indigenous people, the urban poor, workers and civil society via the mainstream media. In response to Hendry’s case, the organization shared the following message on their website:
“This outcome has very serious implications on freedom of expression in Malaysia, a basic right guaranteed in the Malaysian constitutional under Article 10 which guarantees Malaysian citizens the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. Pusat Komas is seriously concerned with the court’s decision to slap Lena Hendry with a RM10,000 fine, and what’s more devastating, a conviction of a human rights defender for highlighting human rights abuses.”
Furthermore, Pusat Komas is pushing for the government to either review the Film Censorship Act of 2002 or abandon it altogether.