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Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim is the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and former leader of KeADILan, the People’s Justice Party and is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. Before becoming deputy prime minister in 1996, Ibrahim held various cabinet positions, including minister of agriculture, culture, education, and finance. In 1998, during his tenure as finance minister, Newsweek named Anwar “Asian of the Year” for his role in steering Malaysia’s economy out of financial crisis. Later that year, Anwar spearheaded a reform movement that led him to accuse Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad—from his own party—of corruption. Anwar was subsequently jailed on politically motivated charges and beaten by police. In 2004, the Malaysian Supreme Court overturned the conviction and Anwar was freed after six years in prison. Upon release Ibrahim worked to form a new government that would break more than 50 years of one-party rule, while still facing threats of politically motivated charges from the ruling regime. In 2008 he was charged with sodomy and stood trial in 2010-11 eventually leading to his acquittal in 2012. His acquittal was overturned in March 2014. After appealing to the federal court, his conviction was reaffirmed in March 2015 and Anwar was ordered to finish his five-year sentence and subsequent five-year ban on participating in elections. In 2017, Ibrahim’s lawyers submitted a formal demand for his release to the government. “Anwar’s criminal conviction is the result of a political circus that aimed to strip him of his political standing, damage his reputation permanently, and eliminate the voice of the opposition,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. In 2018, Anwar received a royal pardon and was released from prison.

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