Posted: 06 Mar 2015 02:26 PM PST
The following information was released by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA):
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) today urged the Malaysian government to ensure that the “Kita Lawan” rally tomorrow (7 March 2015), organised by the opposition and civil society groups to express solidarity with opposition leader and former Deputy Prime MinisterAnwar Ibrahim, will be allowed to proceed peacefully. Anwar was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on trumped up sodomy charges. The expression of support by the regional human rights group for the rally and the right of Malaysians’ to peaceful assembly came in response to the police’s warning that the rally was deemed “illegal” and that the organisers will be charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act.
“The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is the cornerstone of every democratic society for citizens to express their concerns on public affairs. The Dang Wangi police chief’s threat to charge organisers of tomorrow’s rally plainly demonstrates the police force’s ignorance on the rule of law, especially since the Court of Appeal had in April 2014 declared Article 9 of the Peaceful Assembly Act unconstitutional,” said Evelyn Balais-Serrano, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.
On 10 February 2015, the Malaysian Federal Court upheld the conviction of Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges under the Penal Code. The decision of the Federal Court has been heavily criticised by local, regional and international human rights groups as “politically-motivated” and falling below basic international fair trial standards. There has since been a series of arrests and investigations under the Sedition Act and the Penal Code against those who have criticised the court’s decision and the lack of independence and impartiality of the Malaysian judicial system, increasing the already rising number of persecutions targeted against government critics in a wave of crackdown on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly by the Malaysian government since the last couple of years.
“The Malaysian authorities must respect the right to peaceful assembly as it is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. The organisers and demonstrators must not be arrested, charged or investigated for merely exercising their Constitutional and internationally-recognised right. We strongly urge the police to allow the rally to proceed peacefully, instead of making threats or taking actions to disrupt it,” stressed Balais-Serrano.
FORUM-ASIA is a Bangkok-based regional human rights group with 47 member organizations in 16 countries across Asia. FORUM-ASIA has offices in Bangkok, Jakarta and Geneva. FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expressions, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratisation.
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Posted: 06 Mar 2015 06:33 AM PST
Tomorrow’s mass rally in solidarity with jailed opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur will be held simultaneously in 10 other locations worldwide, including the United States, Australia and Switzerland.
PKR Youth’s #KitaLawan movement today said the rallies would be held at the following locations at their respective local time:
Adelaide – South Australian Parliament House – 4pm;
Canberra – Australian Federal Parliament – 4pm;
Geneva – Palais Des Nation, United Nations – 10am;
London – Old Palace Yard – 11am;
Melbourne – State Library, Swanston St – 3pm;
New York – Washington Square Park – 1pm;
San Francisco – Layang-layang Restaurant, Milpitas – 4pm;
Shanghai – Fuzhou Rd, The Bund – 4pm;
Taipei – Liberty Square – 7pm; and
Washington DC – Washington Monument – 1pm.
The rally in Kuala Lumpur will begin at 3pm at three locations – Central Market, Masjid Jamek and PAS headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut before the march to Sogo.
The group today urged the public in these cities to gather at the respective locations to send a "clear message" to the Barisan Nasional government about the crisis of its leadership and of the credibility of the judiciary system.
It said yesterday that international observers would also be present at tomorrow’s mass rally, as well as a delegation of foreign observers from human rights organisations and the Malaysian Bar.
The rally is to push for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s resignation and to demand for the release of Anwar.
Anwar’s sodomy conviction and five-year jail sentence was upheld by the Federal Court on February 10. His supporters said it was a ploy to end his political career.
Lawyers have said the Peaceful Assembly Act cannot be used to criminalise rallies, based on a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal last year that upheld the right to peaceful gatherings.
Lawyers have also warned that police seemed to be using a new “tactic” to nab demonstrators by using the Penal Code instead.
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