Human rights march: 5 lawyers arrested
|Lima orang peguam termasuk Sivarasah (Ahli Majlis Tertinggi Parti Keadilan Rakyat), Latheefah Koya (Angkatan Muda Parti Keadilan Rakyat),
& empat orang aktivis
ditahan IPD Polis KL kerana demo hak asasi pagi tadi.
Petang hari ini juga dua pemimpin BERSIH telah ditahan polis di tempat mereka berada; Tian Chua di Johor Bharu dan Mat Sabu di Ipoh.
Human rights march: 5 lawyers arrested
|Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Dec 9, 07 8:16amMalaysiakini.comhttp://www5.malaysiakini.com/news/75828|
|The police have arrested eight people, including five lawyers, forproceeding with a march to mark International Human Rights Dayfrom the Sogo department store to Central Market in Kuala Lumpurearly this morning.The arrests came aftera failed attempt by the organisers of the
march to negotiate with
the police to allow them to finish
their march at their intended spot.
The 100-odd crowd was already halfway to their
destination when the police give
the marchers a 10-minute warning to disperse.
The organisers, who believed that they could complete
their march within the time limit,
wanted to press on. According to an
eyewitness, the police however cordoned off the area, moved in
and made the arrests even before the stipulated deadline expired.
Those arrested included five lawyers – N Surendran (right),
Latheefa Koya, R Sivarasa, Eric Paulsen and Amer Hamzah.
Others were Anthony Andu, Norazah Othman and an unidentified activist.
They were arrested near the Jalan Tun Perak LRT station and
were immediately taken to the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.
The eight were arrested under the Police Act for illegal assembly,
said Dang Wangi’s acting Superintendent Che Hamzah Che Ismail.
The remainder of the marchers dispersed following the arrests.
“Authorities seem to be upset by any visible signs of protest and
I think this is a problem with the country,” said Sivarasa,
who is also a leader of PKR.
“They don’t seem to be able to deal with peaceful
dissent,” he told AFP before he was arrested.
Organiser Latheefa said that Malaysians needed to
continue to exercise their constitutional right to public assembly.
Willing to cooperate
Earlier today, at about 8am, the small group of about
100 gathered at the Sogo departmental store under the
watchful eyes of the police. There were however no signs of
the dreaded Federal Reserve Unit and their water cannon trucks.
The marchers had carried
banners that read “Lawyers for the
freedom of assembly” and
“Government that abuses
human rights is terrorist.”
Eyewitnesses said that one
of the persons arrested was
the waiting police truck and
the arrests were done despite
the marchers’ willingness
to cooperate with the police.
This small group of marchers have undertaken this march after
the Bar Council had dropped its annual march in conjunction with
the International Human Rights Day celebration – which falls
on Dec 10 – due to pressure to obtain a police permit.
Yesterday the police had warned the public not to participate in
the march given that no permit had been issued for the gathering.
“As no permit has been issued for the gathering, those who take
part in it can be charged under Section 27(5) of the Police Act 1967
for participating in an illegal assembly,”
warned Che Hamzah in a Bernama report.
Upon the decision of the Bar Council to call off the march,
at least 15 lawyers decided to proceed with
the walk to make a statement that citizens
have a right to assemble peacefully and
without prior requirement of a police permit.
Two days ago, Surendran had said that
the march was purely initiated by a group
of concerned lawyers, adding that the
organisers will not be applying for a police permit.
“We think that applying for a permit is a
negation of our fundamental right to freedom
of assembly as enshrined in Article 10 of
the Federal Constitution,” he had explained.
“We feel the (Bar Council) march was called of
due to undue pressure from the authorities. We want
to send a message that the people of Malaysia have
the right to a peaceful assembly,” Surendran said.
Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan meanwhile
had explained that the decision to call off the march was made
after “anxious consideration to the present circumstances
that surround the event, particularly the interests of the public and the Malaysian Bar.”
The Bar Council also moved
its “Festival of Rights” event today
to its own building located
near Central Market after police insisted
that organisers apply for
a permit to hold the event at Central Market.
In a related development,
Ambiga today expressed disappointed over
not being allowed to see the arrested people.
Ambiga said that the march
was peaceful and slammed the arrests as
“totally unnecessary and unfortunate.”
“The Bar holds the view that requirement of police permit is unconstitutional,”
she told reporters.
Meanwhile the police continued to exert pressure on the Bar Council over
their ‘Festival of Rights’ by arresting the council’s human rights committee
chairperson Edmund Bon, allegedly for preventing the authorities
from performing their duty.
Eyewitnesses said that Edmund was arrested at about 12.45pm for blocking
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officials from removing human rights banners
outside the Malaysian Bar building in Leboh Pasar Besar in Kuala Lumpur.
In an immediate response, PKR de facto leader
and ex-deputy premier
Anwar Ibrahim lambasted the authorities for using
the law “to subvert freedom
and to suppress the people’s fundamental democratic
right to peaceful assembly”.
“In the absence of any evidence that they planned to
jeopardise the public’s safety,
their arrest represents nothing more than scare tactics
we have seen used in
the past by the Malaysian government as it prepares
to unleash the draconian
measures of the Internal Security Act,” said Anwar
in a statement this afternoon.
“The individuals who have been detained today are
among the most patriotic
Malaysian citizens and many have dedicated their
life’s work to upholding the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, Penang-based social movement Aliran said
it deplored the
“thoughtless and mindless reaction” of the government
in cracking down on the march.
“We are appalled that even a small gathering
of marchers to a nearby
destination in an orderly manner without
obstructing the traffic or causing
any chaos to the public cannot be allowed
or tolerated by this oppressive
regime,” said Aliran president P Ramakrishnan.
“If this little act of a democratic principle cannot be
exercised in a responsible
manner, can we pretend to be a democratic
country any longer? This state
abuse of our fundamental rights shames
the country and condemns
the leaders as hypocrites.”
Ramakrishnan called on the government to
release those arrested,
whom he described as “brave Malaysians who
have been unjustifiably detained”.