Kota Kinabalu: A memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has been submitted by Bersih 2.0 (Sabah) over the alleged on-going police harassment of Bersih 2.0 and its supporters.
The memorandum was presented by Bersih 2.0 (Sabah) Vice Chair Beverly Joeman to Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Godfrey Gregory Joitol at his office here, on Monday.
“The Peaceful Assembly Act is repeatedly used as an excuse to control the right to peaceful assembly.
“In particular, criminalising the requirement to give 10-days’ notice has rendered the right illusory, especially in urgent scenarios, such as the Bebas Maria vigils or if there are sudden changes to planned convoy routes,” said Beverly.
She said the requirement was proven to be overly burdensome in the Bersih 5 convoy, which visited over 230 areas in a seven-week period.
“Bersih 2.0 believes police investigations have been conducted without regard for the individual’s fundamental liberties guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and Article 19 and Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“This harassment is in itself a violation of freedom of expression as the arbitrary attempts to instil fear and the financial burden incurred by Bersih volunteers and staff creates a chilling effect for the people to continue to speak out and voice their dissent,” she said.
“Bersih 2.0 therefore calls upon Suhakam to carry out an inquiry into the continued harassment of human rights defenders involved in Bersih 2.0’s activities by the police, the Inspector-General of Police and the Malaysian government.
“Bersih 2.0 further asks for this inquiry to include a review of laws that have been abused to curb freedom of expression and assembly,” she said, adding that Bersih 2.0 also calls for a recommendation for a Parliamentary Select Committee to be established to continue the review of protections for and abuse of freedom of expression and assembly.
The memorandum also stated that from Oct 1, 2016 until May 30, this year, the police have conducted 119 arrests or investigations related to Bersih 2.0 activities. – Sherell Ann Jeffrey