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Malaysian Sodomy Trial Update

Citizens Doubt Charges
Against Opposition Leader

National News Blackout
Turns Internet into Source

By Warren D. Adkins

malaysia4.gif - 20.23 KA popular opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister, continues to stand trial on charges of obstructing official investigations that he has had sex with other men. He is also charged with sodomy, which is unlawful in Malaysia. The Southeast Asian nation's skeptical citizenry, much in the dark about this case because of local press control, remains eager for forthright news such as has been provided through Internet sources.

The perceived villain in the national drama is Mr. Anwar's one-time mentor and boss, Prime Minister Mathathir Mohamad. The increased popularity of the Prime Minister's former Deputy is said to be the reason for "trumped up" sex misconduct charges against him.

According to Web Trend reports, GayToday's readers outside of the United States soared dramatically in Malaysia during periods the Internet newsmagazine gave focus to the beleaguered opposition leader's ordeal. Within the last month—since Anwar Ibrahim's trial began--protesters have clashed with police on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Police then set up water canons in front of the Court, and now brandish truncheons and tear gas canisters as well as automatic weaponry.

malaysia1.gif - 4.99 K Anwar Ibrahim Anwar Ibrahim's commentaries, critical of the current Prime Minister's tactics were made in front of the Malaysian press. Only one newspaper, however, dared to print the accused man's words.

Anwar Ibrahim, when first brought before Judge Augustine Paul, had been severely beaten, his eye, according to his physician- wife's report, damaged.

The two men accused of having sex with him have since denied their initial confessions, obtained, they said, through threats of increased torture. One so-called "sex object", assistant to the opposition leader, is, reportedly, over fifty years of age.

According to Rex Wockner's International News Report (GayToday, November 3), " A new Malaysian organization called the People's Voluntary Anti- Homosexual Movement (Pasrah) hopes to 'wipe out' gays, local newspapers reported last week. The group is calling for severe penalties against gay sex and the closure of gay nightclubs. Organizers claim there are 24,000 homosexuals in Kuala Lumpur."

malaysiaflag.gif - 36.45 KSome believe that Prime Minister Mathathir Mohamad is responsible for the Malaysian pogrom. The Prime Minister's daughter, an advocate for People with AIDS, has spoken out against it. But no one seems sure how effective her voice will be.

United States observers and representatives were blocked from courtroom entry on November 2. James P. Rubin of the U.S. State Department is voicing his concerns about the fairness of Anwar Ibrahim's trial. "We have serious concerns about what's going on there," he said.

International Human Rights groups were also denied entry on that date by the judge.

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