Malaysia: 19 arrested for peacefully protesting against a development project
Lumpur, November 5, 2013. The arrest of 19 people, including human rights
defenders, during a peaceful protest against the demolition of a historical
village in Malaysia confirm fears recently expressed by UN member States at the
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) conducted by the UN Human Rights Council, say
the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme
of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World
Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM).
October 31, 2013, 19 protesters were arrested during a peaceful protest against
the demolition of Kampung Hakka Mantin historical village in the Malaysian
state of Negeri Sembilan, south-west of Kuala Lumpur. The demolition, if
allowed, would see the forceful eviction of a good number of local residents in
order to make way for a mixed-use development. The protesters said they were
aggressively attacked and manhandled by the police in spite of their efforts at
arrests are coming on the heels of the scrutiny of Malaysia's human rights
record by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council as part of its Universal
Periodic Review. Some of the key concerns expressed by submitting States
include restrictions of freedom of opinion and expression as well as the
freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, interference with land rights of
indigenous peoples and ill-treatment of human rights defenders.
clampdown on peaceful protesters by Malaysian authorities goes against the
provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which the Malaysian Government
enacted to guide itself in the implementation of the constitutional right of
citizens to assemble peaceably. The rule of law should, as a matter of
priority, be upheld”, said Karim Lahidji,
President of FIDH.
is concerning that the violent repression of this protest comes just days after
the question of civil society freedoms has been discussed at the UN Human
Rights Council. The authorities should now
move towards in implementing the recommendations made during the Universal
Periodic Review, in particular, to bring the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 in full
compliance with international standards and to guarantee fully freedoms of
opinion, expression, association and peaceful assembly”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of OMCT.
should waste no time in fulfilling its pledge that the development of civil and
political rights in the country would 'keep pace' with progress made on
economic and social rights”, said Nalini Elumalai,
Executive Director of SUARAM.
rights defenders arrested include SUARAM's Executive Director, Ms. Nalini
Elumalai, Mr. A. Thevarajan, SUARAM Coordinator, Ms. Parameiswary
Elumalai, activist from the Oppressed Peoples’ Movement, as well as seven
residents of Hakka village, three grass root activists from the Socialist Party
of Malaysia, four State Assembly representatives, and two members of
Parliament. They all have been released on police bail on the same day pending
formal charges. The protesters were arrested for “obstructing public
servant[s]” from carrying out their work, pursuant to Article 186 of Malaysia's
Penal Code. The offence carries a penalty of imprisonment of up to three
months, in addition to a fine of MYR 1,000 (approximately EUR 233).
Court of Appeals issued an order of stay of execution in respect of the
demolition at 2:15pm local time on the same day, after the protesters were
Observatory urges the Malaysian authorities to put an end to any kind
of harassment against human rights defenders, to respect and protect their
exercise of the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and
expression and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and
psychological integrity, in line with the United Nations Declaration
on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
international human rights instruments ratified by Malaysia.