On 21 February 2017, human rights defender Lena Hendry was convicted by the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Lumpur for screening “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, a film on human rights violations in Sri Lanka. She was charged on 19 September 2013 under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002.
Lena Hendry is a human rights defender and the former Programme Coordinator for Pusat KOMAS, a human rights organisation established in 1993 in Malaysia. This organisation works to empower indigenous peoples, poor people in urban areas, workers, and civil society organisations through the use of popular media.
On 21 February 2017, Lena Hendry was found guilty by a magistrate’s court in Kuala Lumpur for screening “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002. She is currently on bail and intends to appeal the court’s decision. Her sentencing is scheduled for 22 March 2017. She faces up to three years imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding RM 30,000 (approximately €6,600).
On 10 March 2016, The Magistrates' Court of Kuala Lumpur acquitted Lena Hendry of the charges but on 21 September 2016, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur reversed Lena Hendry’s aquittal following an appeal issued by the prosecution.
On 19 September 2013, Lena Hendry was charged under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002, for organising a film screening event showing a documentary entitled “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, at Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on 3 July 2013 without approval from the Film Censorship Board. The documentary details alleged human rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan military during the 2009 civil war. Lena Hendry was the first human rights defender to be charged under the law, which criminalizes the act of possessing or exhibiting films not approved by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia.
Front Line Defenders condemns the conviction of Lena Hendry, as it believes that the charges brought against the human rights defender are directly linked to her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, in particular in exposing human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Front Line Defenders urges the Malaysian government to repeal provisions of the Film Censorship Act 2002 that allow unnecessary and arbitrary government interference in the showing of films in Malaysia.