Police must facilitate #KitaLawan rally; they will be held liable for any disorder

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Kita Lawan rally participants represented a majority of Malaysians - Photograph: Latheefa Koya

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) wishes to caution the police that they cannot shirk their responsibility for peace and order at the “Kita Lawan” rally being held today in Kuala Lumpur.

They must remember the recent court judgement in the lawsuit filed by the government against the Steering Committee members of Bersih 2.0. In the countersuit by former member Dr Wong Chin Huat, who was beaten by anonymous suspected police personnel, the court found in favour of Wong, awarding him RM21,000 in damages for unlawful arrest, detention and assault, on top of costs. The lesson learnt here is that the police cannot hope to get away with beating up rally participants by hiding their identification tags such as names and serial numbers.

Yet, in declaring the really illegal for the supposed lack of notice, the police appeared to have not learnt anything with regard to the people’s right to assemble peacefully. The police chose to disrespect the Appeal Court’s finding that the 10-day notice required under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 is unconstitutional. Bersih 2.0 is greatly concerned that this is not the first display of arrogance and contempt of the Court’s decisions on the part of the police.

The government should know that international eyes will be on Malaysia today and it would do the police well to conduct themselves in a manner befitting Malaysia’s reputation and standing in the UN Security Council.

Bersih 2.0 calls upon the IGP to facilitate and maintain order during the rally and not to antagonise and drive participants to frustration. The police should uphold the people’s constitutional right to assemble peacefully.

READ MORE:  Bersih 2.0 expresses solidarity with Thai pro-democracy movement now facing crackdown

Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0

which comprises:

Chairperson: Maria Chin Abdullah; Deputy Chairperson: Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan; Treasurer: Masjaliza Hamzah; national representatives: Assoc Prof Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusof, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and New Sin Yew; vice-chairpersons: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).

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