Monday, August 3, 2009

what the Malaysian Bar thinks of the recent protest

As a WAO member, helping to circulate this.

Press Release: Government must defer to wishes of the people
Monday, 03 August 2009 12:59pm

The Malaysian Bar denounces the Government’s over-zealous and abusive show
of power in its apparent determination to crush the people’s exercise
of its right to the twin freedoms of assembly and expression during the
rallies in Kuala Lumpur on 1 August. According to media and eyewitness
accounts, the Police used excessive and disproportionate physical
force, including wantonly arresting hundreds of individuals and
recklessly using tear gas and water cannons on participants who were
gathered in a peaceful and disciplined manner.

Despite the
Government’s stern warnings about the rallies, and its track record of
heavy-handed repression in other peaceful gatherings recently, members
of the public turned up in full force to exercise their fundamental
liberties to assembly peaceably and to express their viewpoints. The
Government’s staunch and unwavering rebuff of these freedoms is a
complete denial not only of Constitutionally- protected rights but also
of the clear wishes of the people.

The Malaysian Bar is disappointed that the Government has not seen fit
to embrace the public’s increased expression of viewpoints as a
positive development in our society and to accord it the necessary
democratic space to flourish. Instead, this new Government appears
determined to continue stifling public opinion, persecuting and
punishing those who dare to speak out while blaming them for creating
unrest and disorder.

deplorable is the treatment of those arrested. Juveniles who were
detained were placed in a cell with adult detainees, which is in
violation of child rights and procedures for handling juvenile
detainees. Some detainees were remanded for four days, including a
juvenile, which is unreasonably long.

The Malaysian Bar
strongly urges the immediate and unconditional release of all those who
are still being detained, and calls on the Government to exercise
restraint and demonstrate its commitment to democratic processes by not
pursuing charges against any of the participants. We also urge the
Government to immediately heed the calls for reform and to respect the
rule of law and fundamental rights, including the right of all
concerned individuals to assemble peaceably to express their opinions.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

3 August 2009

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