Responding to reports that the police are investigating at least 11 individuals over the Undi18 protest held on 27 March, Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Katrina Maliamauv said:
“The investigation of organisers of the Undi18 protest under the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within Infected Local Areas) (Conditional MCO) (No. 4) is a case of selective harassment. As economic and social activities resume and politicians gather to hold meetings and functions, the government is seeking to silence ordinary Malaysians.
“The Undi18 protest took place peacefully outdoors, and participants dispersed without trouble. We call on the government to immediately drop the investigations into the Undi18 protest.
“The past year has seen a marked decline in the state of freedom of expression in the country, with journalists, human rights defenders and ordinary citizens facing investigations, convictions and hefty fines or prison sentences for speech that is protected under the constitution and is a fundamental human right. Using powers granted by the January proclamation of a state of Emergency, the government enacted in March an ordinance on fake news that provides for up to RM100,000 in fine and/or three years in prison.
“These measures further risk having a chilling effect on the population and the media, leading to self-censorship out of fear of reprisals. Amnesty International Malaysia urges the government to respect the freedom of Malaysians to express themselves and stop the harassment of those exercising their right to dissent. We also call on the government to stop using state of emergency legislation to unduly restrict the right to freedom of expression and bring the parameters of the law into line with human rights standards.”
On 27 March, an estimated 100 protesters from civil society organisations and political parties marched towards Parliament to protest the Election Commission’s decision to delay the lowering of Malaysia’s voting age from July this year to September 2022. The move will affect about 1.2 million voters if elections are called before the end of this year.
On 29 March, news outlets reported that at least 11 individuals linked to the demonstration were called for questioning under the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within Infected Local Areas) (Conditional MCO) (No. 4). – Amnesty International