Sunday, June 9, 2013

SUARAM seeks UK’s help to stop Pakatan crackdown

Among others, SUARAM said Cameron should urge Najib to proceed with his earlier resolve to abolish the Sedition Act 1948.

Local rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) sought intervention today from the United Kingdom with a letter urging Prime Minister David Cameron to help stop Malaysia’s crackdown on the opposition.

The letter, sent today to Cameron’s address at 10 Downing Street, asked the British PM to appeal to his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Barisan Nasional-led (BN) government to stop the ongoing security dragnet that against Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders and their supporters.

SUARAM insisted to Cameron that those hauled in so far to face police action had not violated any criminal law in their attendance or organisation of mass rallies to protest electoral fraud.

“We call on the UK Government to show moral and political leadership to address Malaysia’s recent crackdown on Malaysian human rights activists and opposition politicians,” the group said.

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Among others, SUARAM said Cameron should urge Najib to proceed with his earlier resolve to abolish the Sedition Act 1948, as well as drop all charges under the Act against activists Adam Adli, Muhammad Safwan Awang, Haris Ibrahim and Hishammuddin Rais, and politicians Chua Tian Chua and Tamrin Ghafar.

The group also urged for the abolition of the Peaceful Assembly Act, the 2011-enacted law to regulate public gatherings, and drop all charges under the Act against several politicians, including Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and six others.

SUARAM echoed the views of civil society groups and PR leaders here that the just-concluded Election 2013 was marred by irregularities and widespread cheating, including electoral malpractices like the alleged use of phantom voters and the ineffective indelible ink.

“The UK can and must play a critical role in ensuring a close UN member, Commonwealth friend and ally like Malaysia heeds its democratic obligations and respects the rights of its citizens without resorting to widespread violence, intimidation and electoral fraud,” SUARAM said in the letter.

Immediately after the May 5 polls, PKR’s #siasatPRU13 team made a series of exposes on what it claimed was proof of polls fraud as the opposition moved to pressure Putrajaya to implement polls reform, starting with the complete overhaul of the Elections Commission (EC).

PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli also recently revealed that all three PR parties have confirmed plans to file 41 election petitions ― three by the DAP, 20 by PKR and 18 by PAS ― before the June 12 deadline is up.

According to Rafizi, at least 30 seats should undergo a re-election due to the high probability of vote manipulation in these constituencies. PR had won 89 seats against BN’s 133 in May 5 polls.

But apart from the court petitions, PR and other civil society groups have been hosting mammoth rallies to since May 5 to push their agenda for reform, outlining three main conditions with the first being the resignation of all EC members for its failure to ensure a free and fair Election 2013.

The “Black 505” rallies as they are called, were also created as a movement of protest against PR’s claims of irregularities during the polls, which saw the ruling BN retain power despite losing the popular vote.

In the over 10 such protests held so far, each one drew mammoth crowds of tens of thousands of people, turnouts that PR leaders have said is proof of their solid backing from more than half the country’s registered voters.

Despite losing the overall election, PR’s candidates had garnered more than half the total votes cast on May 5 at 51 per cent while BN lost the popular vote contest with their 47 per cent, a first since the 1969 general election.

But the protests have also led to the widespread crackdown on the opposition and its supporters, with score of politicians and activists finding themselves hauled in for questioning or even detained in lock-ups overnight.

Nik Nazmi was first to be charged on May 17. He claimed trial to charges under the Peaceful Assembly Act accusing him of failure to give early notification for the mammoth Kelana Jaya stadium rally on May 8.

Ten days later, six others faced the same charges for similar gatherings in Perak, Johor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan.

On May 22, 18 protestors were arrested at a candlelight vigil held outside the Jinjang police station. The vigil was organised to protest the arrest of student activist Adam Adli, who was later charged with sedition for urging the public to protest the polls results on the streets.

“Given the UK governments position of leadership in upholding democratic values and political freedoms as a prominent member of the international community and United Nation’s Security Council, we ask you to urge Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno-led Barisan Nasional government to respect all human rights,” SUARAM wrote.

The group also requested that Cameron urge Najib to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Maina Kiai and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion Frank La Rue to conduct missions to Malaysia as soon as possible.

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