KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — The United Nations (UN) should remove Malaysia as a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in light of the government’s crackdown on Bersih supporters, the DAP said.
DAP MP Charles Santiago said that the alarming rate of arrests over the past few days was a “serious violation of human rights.” This, he said showed that the government had no qualms about abusing human rights in the country.
“It’s time for the government to stop pretending that it cares about human rights in the country ... arbitrary arrests, the inhumane treatment of detainees and the silencing of legitimate dissent are not marks of a democratic nation.
“I call upon the UN to strip Malaysia of its membership of the Human Rights Council. The Umno-led ruling government does not deserve to be on the council,” Santiago said in a statement today.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today T-shirts with messages in support of Bersih have been outlawed because they were related to an illegal assembly.
Police officers have arrested activists and opposition members wearing Bersih T-shirts ahead of next weekend’s rally and counter-rallies organised by Umno Youth and Perkasa, all of which the government has said will not be given police permits.
However, the Bersih organisation has not been declared illegal nor has the word “Bersih” been gazetted as such.
Hishammuddin did not mention under what law the T-shirts would be deemed illegal. The minister has also rejected claims that the police clampdown on those supporting the July 9 march for electoral reforms was politically motivated.
Police officers have also raided the Bersih office in Petaling Jaya and arrested several Bersih activists.
Last weekend, the police also rounded up a group of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) activists, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar, accusing them of attempting to revive communism. The group had also expressed their support of the July 9 Bersih rally. A number of opposition politicians have also been summoned to have their statements recorded over Bersih.
PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang demanded that the police explain why only Bersih activists and supporters were being questioned or arrested, and why Perkasa and Umno Youth have not been hauled up despite stating that they will organise a counter-rally on July 9.
“Why the need to arrest Bersih? What have they done wrong? Even if you stop Bersih supporters from wearing T-shirts, you will not be able to stop the spirit of the upcoming rally.
“At the same time, no action has been taken against Umno Youth and Perkasa. Where is the democracy here?” Chua told reporters here today.
Activists under Bersih and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) component parties are gearing up for the rally this July 9, the second such gathering calling for electoral reforms.
The first rally, also organised by Bersih, was held in 2007 and saw some 50,000 people take to the capital’s streets.
The gathering eventually descended into chaos when the police deployed tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators.
The historic event has been partly credited for PR’s record gains in Election 2008, when the opposition pact swept to power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats.