SUHAKAM’s Positive Efforts Must Continue

SUARAM commends the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) for sending an official monitoring team to the Anti ISA candlelight vigil on 1 August 2010 at Padang Timur Dataran MBPJ, Petaling Jaya. This was in response to an earlier request by SUARAM and Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) to send a monitoring team for the vigil. The vigil was held to commemorate the passing of the Internal Security Act (ISA) 50 years ago and to call for the abolition of the ISA.

SUARAM notes that SUHAKAM Commissioners James Nayagam and Muhammad Sha’ani, accompanied by their five officers, were present before the vigil began and also at the Petaling Jaya police headquarters where those arrested were brought. They continued monitoring at the police station until the last person was released at approximately 4.50am.

This is indeed a positive step forward following SUHAKAM’s refusal to do the same exactly one year ago, in the massive anti-ISA rally in August 2009, which subsequently saw 589 individuals being arrested.

Such renewed efforts in SUHAKAM’s work is indeed welcomed and is especially timely in view of the continued occurrence of grave violations of human rights in the country. SUHAKAM’s latest effort is a glimpse of what the Human Rights Commission that Malaysia could and ought to do to fulfil its mandate as a credible national human rights institution and expected role as a public defender of human rights.

Notwithstanding this, SUARAM expresses concern over the government’s disregard of SUHAKAM’s previous recommendations. The arrests made during the anti-ISA candlelight vigil on 1 August 2010 were the latest of the many instances of the government’s refusal to comply with SUHAKAM’s numerous recommendations on peaceful assembly, including those contained in the Commission’s reports of its public inquiries on the cases of the Kesas Highway incident (2001), the “Bloody Sunday” incident in KLCC (2006), and the Bandar Mahkota Cheras incident (2008). In the report of the public inquiry into the “Bloody Sunday” incident, for example, SUHAKAM recommended that “peaceful assemblies should be allowed to proceed without a license”. However, through the excessive use of force by the police and FRU personnel in dispersing participants of the candlelight vigil and previous peaceful assemblies, it is evident that SUHAKAM’s repeated recommendations to the Government have fallen on deaf ears.

SUARAM thus strongly calls upon the police and the Malaysian Government to respect SUHAKAM’s decisions and actions following the Anti ISA vigil and to implement all recommendations made by SUHAKAM.

Encouraged by the positive efforts by SUHAKAM, SUARAM lastly urges the Commission to revisit all recommendations made to the government with increased vigour. SUHAKAM must ensure that its improved efforts in the protection and promotion of human rights do not end with this instance.

OPEN LETTER

Arjunaidi Mohamed
Ketua Polis Daerah Petaling Jaya
Ibupejabat Polis DaerahPetaling Jaya
Polis Diraja Malaysia
Petaling Jaya
Jalan Penchala
46050 Selangor
Tel: 03-79662222
Fax: 03-79548740
5 August 2010

Sir,

We are writing to you to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over the brutality and misuse of power by your personnel at the Anti ISA candlelight vigil on 1st August 2010 at Padang Timur MBPJ, Petaling Jaya. The candlelight vigil organised by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)

On 1st August, 29 persons were arrested at around Amcorp Mall Petaling Jaya and IPD Petaling Jaya for exercising their right to assemble peacefully as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. As the Officer in Charge of Police District (OCPD) Petaling Jaya, your violent and heavy handed tactics in dispersing the peaceful assembly was highly unprofessional and uncalled for. Instead of acceding to the organisers’ request to negotiate terms for the vigil and providing time for the crowd to disperse peacefully, you ordered your officers to move in forcibly on the crowd which resulted in a situation of chaos and fear. In your arrogance, you even denied the legitimacy of the permit given by the Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ) to the organisers.

Violence was brutally deployed when your officers moved in to arrest participants of the vigil. Those arrested were shoved, beaten, slapped, dragged, choked and verbally abused by your police officers. Even women were not exempt from the violence. Such extreme use of violence was highly unnecessary as those arrested would have cooperated when informed that they were being arrested. You exercised your powers arbitrarily and as such, you are to be blamed for the human rights violations that occurred on that night.

In addition to that, we condemn your various intimidation tactics such as deploying water cannon trucks and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) to frighten the good citizens who gathered outside the District Police Headquarters (IPD) Petaling Jaya in solidarity with those arrested. Vindictively, you also arrested another 3 individuals outside the IPD and deployed traffic police in the wee hours of the morning to summon the vehicles of those who were waiting outside the police station for the arrested to be released. However, we regard the intimidation of the highest order to be your action to compel the lawyers representing those arrested to give a separate witness statement. We condemn outright violation of the right to seek counsel and the rights of the lawyer when representing their clients.

Even though Section 27 of the Police Act provides police with arbitrary powers to allow or refuse permits for public gatherings, this provision is in contravention of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia which guarantees civil liberties with regards to the right to assembly and free speech.

As an OCPD, you should be ashamed of yourself for being a poor example as a leader to the younger and lower ranking police officers under your charge. As a member and leader of the police force, you should be setting an example to the officers under your charge by respecting fundamental human rights in your endeavours to protect the public from crimes. Contrary to this, you have shown not just your officers but the people of Malaysia that you exercise control over the public by inflicting fear and terror.

Due to the above, SUARAM demands that you publicly apologise to the participants of the candlelight vigil, those who were abused by your officers and the lawyers whom you have intimidated. We also urge you not to press charges against those who were arrested as they were merely exercising their Constitutional rights to assemble peacefully.

Like the activists and participants of the candlelight vigil, you are also a citizen of Malaysia. We believe that you would equally benefit from the preservation of the right to assembly and free speech that are essential in a democratic society.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Suhakam regrets police arrests, 30 GMI activists released

Monday, August 2nd, 2010 22:58:00 (malay mail)

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commision of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) expresses its regret over the inability of the public to assemble peacefully during the 50 years of ISA vigil that took place on Aug 1 at Dataran Petaling Jaya. SUHAKAM was present at the event to observe and monitor the situation.

SUHAKAM, through its observation, found that the right to assembly was denied during the event as the authorities stopped the gathering and dispersed the crowds with much haste. Proper warning and ample time to disperse were not given by the authorities, thus resulting in a commotion where 22 men and 8 women were arrested because they were suspected as participants of the vigil.

SUHAKAM has consistently urged the Government to consider and take into account the recommendations made by the Commission on freedom of assembly as expressed in the reports relating to the Kesas Highway and KLCC “Bloody Sunday” Inquiries. SUHAKAM would therefore recommend that in the event where the police finds it necessary to control or disperse a crowd, proportionate and nonviolent methods should be employed.

SUHAKAM strongly reiterates its stand that the people have the right to participate in peaceful assemblies, as all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms as guaranteed by Article 10 (1) (b) of the Federal Constitution. The right to freedom of assembly is also guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 20 (1).

SUHAKAM also wishes to address the ordeal of the detainees of the vigil at the Petaling Jaya police station where the authorities requested the lawyers to provide separate witness statements. This unusual practice forced the lawyers to pull out from giving legal counsel to the detainees. Apart from that, SUHAKAM feels that the authorities could have expedited the process of bail at the police station as the detainees had to endure long hours before they could be released.

However, SUHAKAM wishes to record that full cooperation was extended by the Police to the Commission which enabled  SUHAKAM to observe and monitor the 50 years of ISA vigil and the recording of statements at the Petaling Jaya police station.

TAN SRI HASMY AGAM,
Chairman
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

News source: http://mmail.com.my/content/45087-suhakam-regrets-police-arrests-30-gmi-activists-released

SIMULTANEOUS CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL IN CONJUNCTION WITH 50 YEARS OF ISA!

Salam Perjuangan,

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) would like to
invite all concerned citizens to a Candle light Vigil in conjunction with 50 years of ISA. The Vigil will be held on the 1st of August 2010, 8pm at several parts of Malaysia such as:

Venue in in each states:
State Place Contact Person
Selangor Dataran MBPJ, Padang Timur (Opposite Amcorp Mall) Nalini: 019 3758912
Penang Speakers Square Jing Cheng: 012 7583779
Perak Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh Dr. Kumar: 019 5616807
Kedah Dataran Zero KM, Sungai Petani Simon Ooi : 012 4202264
Kelantan Taman Hijau, Jalan Sultanah Zainab (After Merdeka Field) Zaidi:
0123840415
Seremban Dataran Seremban Veron: 016 6687900
Sibu No. 25, Pusat Tanah Wang, Jalan Perdada, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak George
0198873515
Kuching Lots 468-469, Bangunan Al Idrus Commercial Centre, Jalan Satok,
93400Kuching. See Chee How 019-8886509, Zulkifli 013-8958174

We demand the Government of Malaysia to Abolish the ISA as soon as possible as
the barbaric and unlawful Act has existed in Malaysia for 50 years. The ISA is draconian and most importantly, it is against the fundamental human rights.

Please join us together to fight the ISA and all other detention without trial laws! Together We CAN Bring CHANGE!

GMI Secretariat will update everyone from time to time regarding the venue of the Vigils in each state mentioned above. Please bear with us. For further info, please contact Miss Nalini at 019 3758912 or 03 77843525.

Released By,

Nalini.E
GMI Secretariat and SUARAM Coordinator