KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged the public to continue with the #BebasMaria #MansuhSOSMA protest until the release of Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah. Mahathir said this after he made a special appearance together with his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali at Dataran Merdeka at about 8.55pm today. During his speech, he described Maria's solitary confinement as torture. "We were told that Maria has been put into solitary confinement where she is kept in a small uncomfortable room. "It is torture and against the law to put her in detention. I'm sad that she was put into that cell," Mahathir said. "So continue with this protest until Maria is released," he added. Maria's three sons, Azumin, Aziman and Azemi Yunus, were also present at the protest. Aziman described his mother as a strong individual. "My mother is a very strong person. If you're trying to break her will, no you won't," he said. He also thanked lawyers who have given them advice during trying times like this. Some 500 people, non-governmental organisations and politicians attended the daily candlelight vigil in solidarity at Dataran Merdeka. The protest will continue every night at 8pm until Maria is released. Earlier in a statement, Bersih 2.0 condemned Maria's detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) where she can be held up to 28 days without trial. Bersih said it was shocked and outraged that the authorities have gone to such extreme lengths to silence their critics. "The use of Sosma, which is intended as a terrorism counter-measure, against a civil society leader who peacefully champions institutional reforms and the crackdown on 16 activists and politicians are a horrific abuse of power," Bersih said. Bersih demanded for the immediate release of Maria and also called for the repeal of such an oppressive law that is so easily open to abuse. Maria was detained on Friday under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.