WE the undersigned civil society groups strongly condemn the arrest of 15 Sarawakian civil rights activists by the police for attempting to hand a petition to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud on Malaysia Day over the displacement of indigenous people.
After being held for seven hours without food and water by local police, they were charged with illegal assembly and released on bail and are expected to appear in court on 29 Sept 2009. We demand that the charges of illegal assembly be dropped immediately. The police officers should instead be censured for their anti-national act of infringing the citizens’ right on the nation’s birthday, and be investigated for denying the detained activists food and water.
Such arrest of citizens for a completely peaceful expression of opinion confirms the tragic fact that political violence still colonises our public life. Political dissent is not met with reason and empathy, but with physical violence.
The abuse of power by police has in fact thrown Malaysia’s independence into question. After all, what good is independence if foreign rulers are replaced by domestic rulers who depend equally on state violence instead of public support to reign? There can be no real independence without democracy.
The rule of political violence in fact prevails in both East and West Malaysia. Also on Malaysia Day, a PKR forum on the alleged plot of the Barisan Nasional to take over Selangor was stopped by police in Taman Connaught, Cheras.
All Malaysians, from Sabah to Perlis, must therefore reclaim our country from political violence, and strive for real empowering peace. Let our determination to end political violence unite us, just as the will to end colonial domination united Malaysians in the early years.
We must step up our call for the abolition of draconian acts used to suppress civil and political liberties, and for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).
Civil Rights Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Writer Alliance for Media Independence
Sarawak Dayak Iban Association
Women’s Candidacy Initiative
1BLACK Malaysia Facebook Group and Page
Justice for Beng Hock Facebook Group and Page