Monday, November 10, 2008

Respect the Right to Peaceful Assembly - Malaysian Bar Press Release

Malaysian Bar's Press Release: Respect the Right to Peaceful Assembly

Monday, 10 November 2008 07:39pm

Ragunath KesavanFreedom of assembly and freedom of expression were again dealt a severe blow yesterday with the arrests of 23 citizens – including journalists and activists, a Member of Parliament, State Assemblypersons and a City Councillor – who were participants in a peaceful gathering to commemorate the first anniversary of last year's BERSIH rally.

The Bar Council is alarmed at the disproportionate and heavy-handed approach adopted by the police, who purportedly began dispersing people as early as an hour before the start of the vigil. Needless physical force was allegedly used during the arrests, causing injuries to a number of participants. Such unprovoked intimidation and oppression is unjustifiable as the group was reportedly calm, did not pose any threat to public order and was merely exercising its democratic rights.

While the Bar Council disagrees with the laws curtailing the right to assemble and express dissent, we are concerned that the authorities seem to use these laws selectively to disperse and arrest demonstrators. Several demonstrations against the Pakatan Rakyat government's policies in Penang and Selangor have proceeded without much harassment nor arrests by the police.

This gives rise to the perception that police actions are not based on any objective criteria relating to preservation of public order. Such subjectivity breeds the notion that the authorities act in a biased, or even arbitrary, manner.

We call on the police to protect the rights of speech, expression and assembly of all those who legitimately engage in expressing dissent, fairly and without bias.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

10 November 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For someone as intelligent as yourself I am amazed that you still view this as a "perception". I'll voice what you fear? It's a FACT the police, the government,.... are biased and racist. You can slice and dice it any which way you like but that is the fact.