Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment of several members of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0)

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MYS 001 /1115 / OBS 091



November 6,2015

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Malaysia.

Descriptionof the information:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassmentof several members of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0),a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) created in 2006. Bersih2.0 seeks to reform the current electoral system in Malaysia to ensure free,clean, and fair elections and to promote the respect of democratic rights[1].

From2 p.m. on August 29, 2015, to midnight on August 30, 2015, a massive rally,dubbed Bersih 4.0, calling for democratic reforms in Malaysia was held in KualaLumpur. Smaller rallies were held in other cities, including Kuching, SarawakState, and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah State.

Accordingto the information received, on November 3, 2015, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court charged Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah,organiser of the Bersih 4.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur and Chairperson of Bersih 2.0,under Article 9(5) of the 2012 Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA), for failing to givenotice to the Brickfields police 10 days prior to the 34-hour rally Bersih 4.0 inKuala Lumpur.

According to the information received, the SessionsCourt judge fixed bail at RM 5,000 (approx. 1,070 Euros). Ms. Maria ChinAbdullah’s case will go to trial on December 11, 2015. She faces a maximum fineof RM 10,000 (approx. 2,150 Euros), if convicted.

Ms. Chin Abdullah is not the only Bersih member tobe judicially harassed by the Malaysian authorities under the 2012 PAA. On October21, 2015, the Magistrate Court charged Ms. Jannie Lasimbang,Vice-chairperson of Bersih 2.0 and organising committee member of Bersih 4.0 inKota Kinabalu, Sabah State, on two counts under Article 9(5) of the 2012 PAA,for having organised the August 2015 gathering at Taman Awam Teluk Likas Parkin Kota Kinabalu, without giving a 10-day notice to Kota Kinabalu City Hallprior to the event. She was also charged for failing to submit a copy of theconsent letter from the owner or occupier of the place of assembly, as requiredunder Article 10(c) of the 2012 PAA. Ms. Lasimbang was also charged under Article 15(3) of the PAA fororganising the event without complying with the condition imposed by the citypolice chief to obtain the approval of City Hall to assemble on certain daysand at certain times.

The Magistrate ordered Ms. Lasimbang to post bailof RM 6,000 (approx. 1280 Euros) for both charges, with a deposit of RM 1,000(approx. 215 Euros) for each charge, and set the trial for November 23 and 24,2015. As in the case of Ms. Chin Abdullah, Ms. Lasimbang is liable to a maximumfine of RM 10,000 (approx. 2,150 Euros) for each charge, if convicted.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Maria ChinAbdullah and Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, which only aims at sanctioning theirlegitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Malaysian authorities todrop all charges against them.


Please writeto the authorities of Malaysia asking them to:

i. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Maria ChinAbdullah and Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, as well as of other members of Bersih 2.0and of all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

ii. Put anend to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms.Maria Chin Abdullah and Ms. Jannie Lasimbang as well as of other members ofBersih 2.0 and of all human rights defenders in the country so that they areable to carry out their work without hindrance;

iii. Complywith all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, inparticular with its:

· Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually orcollectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

· Article 5(a), which stipulates that “for the purpose of promoting andprotecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individuallyand in association with others, at the national and international levels tomeet or assemble peacefully”,

· Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessarymeasures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone,individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats,retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any otherarbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred toin the present Declaration”;

iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and otherinternational human rights instruments signed or ratified by Malaysia.


· Dato’ SriMohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s OfficeMalaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government AdministrativeCentre, 62502 Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Fax: +60 3 8888 3444, Email:

· Mr. AhmadZahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 &D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya,Malaysia. Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 / +60 3 8889 1610, Email:

· Tan SriHasmy Agam, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM),Tingkat 11, Menara TH Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;Fax: +60 3 2612 5620, Email:;

· H.E.Mr. Mazlan Muhammad, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia tothe United Nations in Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1stfloor), Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 7501, Email:

· Embassyof Malaysia in Brussels, 414 A avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre,Belgium, Fax: +32 2 762 50 49, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Malaysia in yourrespective countries.

[1] BERSIH, which means “clean” in Malay, is anon-partisan, civil society campaign endorsed by over 60 Malaysiannon-governmental organizations calling for immediate electoral reform in eightmain areas, including anti-corruption, free and fair access to the media, andpostal ballot reform.

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