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Thread: BERSIH 3.0: UN concern for safety of BERSIH 2.0 members

   
   
       
  1. #1
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    BERSIH 3.0: UN concern for safety of BERSIH 2.0 members

    OHCHR | Malaysia: UN rights experts call for the protection of NGOs working for free and fair elections

    Malaysia: UN rights experts call for the protection of NGOs working for free and fair elections

    GENEVA (7 June 2012) – A group of United Nations human rights experts called on the Government of Malaysia and other parties involved to respect and protect the legitimate work of an umbrella group of NGOs campaigning for reform of the electoral process in the lead-up to the general election, scheduled to take place by April 2013.

    The UN independent experts on human rights defenders, freedom of peaceful
    assembly and freedom of expression urged the authorities to protect effectively one of the directors of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), Ambiga Sreenevasan, and other Bersih members, against acts of harassment and intimidation by various groups of individuals.

    Ms. Sreenevasan has been the subject of credible threats against her life in the past months. She has been labelled by various groups as an enemy of the State and a traitor, who should be expelled from the country, because of her advocacy work with Bersih calling for reform of the electoral process. Effigies of Ms. Sreenevasan were also burned. Recently she had to cancel her participation in a public event because of fears for her safety.

    “I am seriously concerned by these disturbing acts of harassment against a
    prominent woman human rights defender who is being targeted because of her
    legitimate human rights activities in Malaysia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya. “I urge the authorities to
    investigate thoroughly these allegations, hold the perpetrators accountable, and effectively protect Ms. Sreenevasan, and more generally, Bersih members.”

    In addition, Ms. Sreenevasan, together with other organizers from the Bersih Steering Committee, has been sued by the federal Government in relation to property which was allegedly damaged during a rally organized by the coalition last April.

    “Holding assembly organizers liable for the alleged unlawful conduct of others is not compatible with standards governing the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and has a detrimental effect on the exercise of this right,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of opinion, Maina Kiai. “I urge the Government of Malaysia to withdraw the complaint against her.”

    “The Government of Malaysia should fully guarantee the right to freedom of
    opinion and expression of those advocating for electoral reform, and should
    ensure a safe and conducive environment for journalists and those monitoring and reporting on demonstrations”, emphasized the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue. “The rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental pillars of democracy.”

    “In view of the urgency and recurrence of the situation,” Mr. Kiai and Ms.
    Sekaggya added, “we would like to remind the Government of our requests to
    visit the country, which we believe will contribute to the realization of the rights in question in accordance with international human rights standards.”

    UN Human Rights, country page - Malaysia:
    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/As...s/MYIndex.aspx
    Freedom of peaceful assembly and of association:
    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Assem...tionIndex.aspx

    Freedom of opinion and expression:
    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Freed...nionIndex.aspx

    For further information and media requests, please contact Guillaume Pfeifflé
    (+41 22 917 9384 / gpfeiffle@ohchr.org)

    For *media inquiries* related to other UN independent experts:
    Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 /
    xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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    Join us to speak up for human rights in Rio+20, use *#RightsRio*
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    Malaysia should welcome United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteurs’ visits to Malaysia

    BERSIH 2.0 Press Statement, 12. June 2012
    http://bersih.org/?p=5118

    BERSIH 2.0 calls upon the Malaysian Government to welcome and accept the requests by three United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteurs to visit Malaysia.

    Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of opinion, as well as Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, called on the Malaysian government to respect the peoples’ fundamental rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly on June 7th. They also reiterated their request to officially visit Malaysia.[1]

    BERSIH 2.0 believes that a visit of UN Special Rapporteurs would contribute to the realization of fundamental human rights of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly in Malaysia in accordance with international norms. Malaysia, as a member of the UN Human Rights council, should not fear the consequences of such visits.

    As the Malay saying goes, “Berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah”. If the Malaysian Government is confident of its human rights record, it should welcome the Special Rapporteurs with open arms. Indonesia and Pakistan, two other Muslim-majority countries in the region, had already received Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
    Keluar Mengundi, Lawan Penipuan!
    Salam Bersih!

    BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee
    Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)

    The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
    Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah (Kuching), Dominic Hii (Sibu), Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rias, Liau Kok Fah, Mark Bujang (Miri), Maria Chin Abdullah, Niloh Ason (Kuching), Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin.


    [1] http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/P...12226&LangID=E
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  3. #3
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    UN rep: Government's job to ensure rallies are peaceful



    • Kuek Ser Kuang Keng & Hafiz Yatim


    • 8:14AM Sep 12, 2012


    INTERVIEW United Nations special rapporteur for peaceful assembly and association Maina Kiai has lamented that Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world where protest organisers are personally held liable for damage resulting from street demonstrations.


    "This is completely against human rights standards as the state has the responsibility to ensure that those who want to assemble can do so peacefully," he said.


    "We (UN rapporteurs) have expressed concern on how the Bersih 3.0 rally was handled and we still hold that view," said Kiai, who studied law in both the University of Nairobi and Harvard.


    Kiai, who was in Malaysia last week on the invitation of several NGOs and the Bar Council, said the state should understand that allowing freedom of assembly does not negate its responsibility to ensure that the rallies remain peaceful.


    The top Kenyan lawyer was on his first visit to Malaysia as part of a familiarisation tour to get to know the country better, particularly on the issue where he has been tasked by UN to protect - the right to peaceful assembly.


    During his brief visit, Kiai made time to call on inspector-general of police Ismail Omar.


    A number of UN special rapporteurs had earlier written to the government, asking for a formal invitation to conduct a visit following the Bersih crackdown. Kiai confirmed he had received an official invitation from Putrajaya to come next year.


    Elaborating on the Bersih 3.0 rally, he said the UN special rapporteurs believed that, under the international law, the organisers should be generally responsible for the event.


    "However, if unlawful acts happen, then it is the state's responsibility. The state has the primary task to ensure that the rally is peaceful.


    "If there are agent provocateurs in the rally, they need to pull them out in a humane way and deal with them according to the law. You cannot, and should not, pass that responsibility to individual citizens."


    Police concerns


    Kiai said he empathises with the police on the need for order, and that the meeting with Ismail was to help him (Kiai) understand how the police operate.


    He said the IGP had indicated that the police are re-examining their standard operating procedures.


    He expressed hope for active public debate by citizens, the media, civil society, and members of parliament to provide input on various aspects.


    Kiai described his meeting with Ismail as "quite open" and that he had left feeling rather satisfied.


    "The IGP voiced his concerns that the organisers didn't know everybody who came, which was true. However, if there are people out to create chaos or damage, it is the role of the police to make sure they don't.


    "You do not blame a shopkeeper if a theft is committed in his shop. The man who came in to steal should be held accountable."

    This was in reference to the fact that Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga and several members of the steering committee are facing a RM122,000 civil suit by the government and police, over claims of damage to public property and 15 police vehicles during the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.




    Kiai and Frank La Rue, the UN special rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, have both been critical of the governments's handling of the Bersih rallies.


    La Rue, who came to Malaysia a day after the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 last year, had commented in May that he is willing to come to Malaysia to probe the Bersih 3.0 rally but this was summarily rejected by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.


    In the past, both Kiai and La Rue had voiced displeasure over the crackdown on Bersih.


    Kiai has called on the government to withdraw its complaint against Ambiga, while La Rue has urged it to ensure a safe and conducive environment for journalists covering demonstrations.


    Several journalists were hurt, while several were arrested, during Bersih 3.0. This, among other complaints, sparked a public inquiryby Malaysia's Human Rights Commission.



    Tomorrow: Maina Kiai's views on Peaceful Assembly Bill

    py

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