Monday, March 31, 2014

Our heartfelt condolences to all grieving the death of veteran activist Irene Fernandez, one of Malaysian true heroes.

Hospitalised with breathing difficulties last Tuesday, veteran activist Irene Fernandez passed away of heart failure this morning. She was 67.

Comrades, colleagues and those who knew her share their condolences online:

Ambiga Sreenevasan (former Bersih co-chairperson): Always there for the marginalised, you have fought the good fight with passion and courage. Rest now my friend. Rest in peace.

Abdul Malek Hussin (Head of the Opposition Leader's parliamentary affairs office): I highly-respect Irene Fernandez. She was the one who advised me to set up Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) in 2004.

I remember her as a strong woman and a human rights fighter. During the anti-Internal Security Act protest in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 1, 2009, she was ill and had to use a walking stick, but she was there.

When I was arrested under the ISA in 1998, she lent me moral support and held a press conference to expose the tortures under ISA.

Irene Fernandez, for all those years of struggle, thank you. It's the Lord's wish for you to rest in peace. Kak Irene, we'll surely miss you.

Sidney Jones (Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta): Irene Fernandez, fearless migrant advocate, thorn in (Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad)'s side ... One of Southeast Asia's truly great activists.

Lim Kit Siang (DAP's Gelang Patah MP): (The) nation mourns (the) passing of social activist Irene Fernandez who dedicated her life to make Malaysia a more human/humane society.

Fahmi Fadzil (PKR communications director): Deepest condolences to (the) family of Irene Fernandez, a champion of human rights. May your work inspire us to work harder for a better Malaysia.

Charles Santiago (DAP's Klang MP, left): She was a fearless fighter, who stood for people who had no one to stand for them. Malaysia and the international community has lost a great person who advocated for justice and human rights.

Condolences to members of her family, (husband) Joe, (sisters) Aegile, Josie, her children and those who have been privileged to meet her. Irene Fernandez, gone but never forgotten. 1946-2014.

Elaine Daly (TV personality): Remembering her for her strength, commitment and perserverance. Rest in peace Irene Fernandez.

Maria Chin Abdullah (Bersih chairperson): Rest in peace Irene Fernandez - friend, comrade and fighter.

Lawyers for Liberty (Legal aid NGO): In 1995, (she) published a damning report on the deaths and deplorable living conditions of migrants while under detention. The report revealed that 59 inmates, primarily Bangladeshis, had died in Semenyih Detention Centre from preventable diseases, typhoid (and) beri-beri.
Irene was charged with maliciously publishing false news and after seven years of trial, she was found guilty and sentenced to one year's jail in 2003.

However in 2008, the High Court overturned Irene's conviction. During the long appeal process, her passport was withheld for bail.

Irene Fernandez (was) the exemplary activist - principled, fearless, uncompromising, dedicated to the poor & oppressed. Rest in peace.

Fuziah Salleh (PKR's Kuantan MP): When Keadilan was first formed, justice was our main policy. Irene, as a world renown human rights fighter, was one of our most important members.

Kakiseni (Arts portal): She lent her strength to those in need and was an inspiration to us all. Rest in peace.

Teresa Kok (DAP's Seputeh MP): A true champion of migrant workers and the oppressed. Rest in peace, you fought the good fight.

Tian Chua (PKR's Batu MP): Sad news...We have lost a dear comrade and old friend.

The Body Shop Malaysia: Rest in peace our dear Irene Fernandez. Thank you for always defending human rights and being a constant warrior, hero and inspiration to all of us. You will be missed.

Kasthuri Patto (DAP's Batu Kawan MP): (I) met a very energetic Irene Fernandez for the first time when I was eight, at a picket in Ipoh, on protecting our ozone. Environmentalist and activist. Rest in peace.

New Sin Yew (Lawyer and activist): Today, Malaysia lost one of her most feareless human rights defenders. Irene Fernandez will be sorely missed by all of us.

Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR's Lembah Pantai MP, right): Irene, we love and will miss you dearly. Praying for strength for the entire family. Deepest condolences from all of us.

Dr Hartini Zainuddin (Child rights activist): Amazing, courageous, dedicated and strong-willed individual. She once told me: “Right is right. We must fight for rights of all!"

Ong Kian Ming (DAP's Serdang MP): Rest in peace Irene Fernandez. Malaysia thanks you for your service and dedication to the marginalised and voiceless.

Tindak Malaysia (Electoral watchdog): She will be remembered for her actions that followed her talk and her uplifting of people.

Hannah Yeoh (DAP's Subang Jaya assemblyperson and Selangor legislative assembly speaker): Sad to hear about the passing of Irene Fernandez. What honour and privilege to have partnered with Irene and Tenaganita in Subang Jaya.

Cynthia Gabriel (Activist): A terrible loss to humanity! Fearless, passionate and ever so dedicated! Thank you for the friendship, Irene. Rest in peace.

Elizabeth Wong (PKR's Bukit Lanjan assemblyperson, left): At the first Bersih rally, when we decided to change routes, Irene Fernandez, in a wheelchair, was the last to leave the line. “Don't worry, you all go first,” (she said).

Pang Khee Teik (Activist): Dear Irene Fernandez, warrior of justice, friend of the oppressed, your work is done. We will carry your flag. Rest in peace.

Dr Xavier Jayakumar (PKR's Seri Andalas assemblyperson): Deepest condolences to Joe and family, we have lost a great fighter. May her soul rest in peace.

Eric Choo (Jasin MCA legal bureau chief): Deepest condolences to the family members of Irene Fernandez. Her spirit in fighting for greater human rights, I'm sure, will be carried on.

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