PRESS STATEMENT: 8 MAY 2013
ALLOW THE PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND RESPECT THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
SUARAM urges the Malaysian government to respect the fundamental right to peaceful assembly by allowing the opposition rally today at the Kelana Jaya Stadium. The rally is being held in response to allegations of election irregularities and fraud that happened on Election Day.
SUARAM also condemns the statement by the IGP Ismail Omar who stated that the rally is illegal (7 May 2013, an article in news portal Malaysiakini titled “Rally illegal, participants face arrest, warns IGP”). SUARAM‘s position is that there is no need for an application of a permit by the organizers which is in line with provisions in the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA), . As far as SUARAM is concerned, the organisers only need to notify to the police of the assembly.
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further, the right of every Malaysian to assemble peacefully without arms is also enshrined in the country’s highest law, the Federal Constitution.
SUARAM continues to call for abolishment of the Peaceful Assembly Act as many of the provisions in the Act contravenes international human rights standards and provides the police with excessive powers to restrict peaceful assemblies
As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Malaysia has made commitments on numerous occasions, in various international fora to protect human rights. If the government does not intend to make a mockery of its own international commitments, it must allow the rally to proceed without any disruption, and ensure that the police manage the rally in compliance with international human rights standards.