Malaysia: Stop Harassment of Opposition and Minority Activists in the Run-up to the Parliamentary Elections

London, 27 February 2008

On 26 February 2008, The Equal Rights Trust again urged Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, to ensure that the police does not abuse its powers to discriminate against certain civil society groups and opposition party activists.  Discriminatory treatment in relation to freedoms protected by international law also violates the victims’ right to participate on equal terms with all other voters in Malaysia in the parliamentary elections set for 8 March 2008.

In recent weeks, in Kuala Lumpur, peaceful assemblies by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI – Abolish Internal Security Act Movement), Coalition Against Inflation (Protes) and Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) have been banned. Scores of activists have been arrested on 26 January and 16 February and held on remand for two or three days. Three activist of Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih - Coalition for Free and Fair Elections) were arrested on 15 and 16 February. According to reports received by ERT, all those arrested and subsequently charged in these instances had been peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Similar cases had been reported in November and December 2007 when ERT wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to investigate multiple breaches of international human rights law and prevent any further violations (See ERT urges release of anti-discrimination activists in Malaysia available at ). ERT is still waiting for a response from the Malaysian authorities. In its letter sent on 26 February, ERT has also reiterated its appeal to the Prime Minister to immediately release five Hindraf officials from custody and to initiate a revision of the Internal Security Act in order to ensure its compliance with international law.

ERT has also called on the Malaysian Government to accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its optional protocols and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and thus reinforce the safeguards for the enjoyment of human rights in Malaysia. As a state which is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Malaysia should demonstrate its  will to uphold human rights values globally, by both respecting human rights in practice and becoming legally bound by the International Bill of Human Rights.

To read the full account of the recent events and the ERT position regarding multiple breaches of international human rights law see the text of the letter to the Malaysian Prime Minister.


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