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Thursday, July 14, 2011

UN condemns Najib administration for "excessive" crackdown on Bersih

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:43 AM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The United Nations has condemned Prime Minister Najib Razak's crackdown on the Bersih 2.0 rally  as "excessive", also expressing diappointment and "alarm" at the targeting of individuals in the run-up to the July 9 citizens march for free and fair elections.
"We are very concerned by the recent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators by the government in Malaysia," AFP reported Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as saying.

The statement issued in Geneva by the UN human rights office is indeed timely given recent signals by the Najib administration it plans to further tighten its grip on power with further crackdowns. It has already warned the foreign and online media for 'falsely' reporting the situation.
Amnesty International had a day ago also called on the UK government and the Vatican to express disapproval for the Malaysian crackdown. Najib in is now in London for an official 4-day visit and will leave for the Vatican later in the week.
Meanwhile, Colville said his office is "particularly disappointed to see the apparent use of excessive force by the police against so many peaceful demonstrators in an established democracy like Malaysia".
"We are alarmed at the targeting of individuals for championing the rights of Malaysian citizens to express their opinions and to peacefully assemble," said Colville.
Retaliation against individuals


Colville expressed concern "about retaliation against these individuals" as well as the others who were arrested in the run up to Saturday's rally.
Riot police had fired tear gas and water cannons into the crowd and even into the Tung Shin hospital nearby to where the main assembly had taken place. The unprecedented use of force caused the death of one marcher and left thousands injured.
In their attacks, the police also gunned after Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu. A tear gas canister was fired directly at the 64-year Anwar, who hit his head on the road trying to avoid the canister. Sabu, riding pillion on a motor-bike towards the National Mosque to join another group, was rammed by a police Land Rover. He was immediately thrown off and rolled several feet on the ground before fellow marchers rushed to his rescue.
More than 1,600 people were arrested. This number does not include the more than 200 detained in the runup to rally. Among those still imprisoned under the Emergency Ordinance Act are 6 Parti Sosialis Malaysia members for alleged involvement in a Communist plot to overthrow the BN government .The EO is a draconian law that allows for indefinite detention without trial.
“Actions taken by the authorities prior to and during the rally unduly restricted the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association,” UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue said in a separate statement issued on Monday.
“Declaring Bersih illegal based on claims that it is trying to topple the Government or is a risk to national security and public order - in the absence of any credible evidence to substantiate such claims – is also an unnecessary restriction of civil and political rights.”
Firestorm of Najib's own making

Bersih 2.0 is a coalition of 62 top Malaysian non-governmental groups. They had organised the rally demanding 8 key electoral reforms; 1. Clean the electoral roll 2. Reform postal ballot 3. Use of indelible ink 4. Minimum 21 days campaign period 5. Free and fair access to media 6. Strengthen public institutions 7. Stop corruption 8. Stop dirty politics.
Sister-rallies were held by the Malaysian diaspora and their friends more than 30 cities worldwide.
Rights groups and opposition leaders have also condemned the government's handling of the rally.
Amnesty International spokeswoman Donna Guest called Saturday's crackdown "the worst campaign of repression we've seen in the country for years". New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) also denounced the arrests.
"This is a maelstrom of the Malaysian authorities' own making," said Phil Robertson, deputy director for HRW's Asia Division.
No remore, only threats of further "chaos"

Never before has Malaysia been so disgraced in the eyes of the world, and singlehandedly Najib has plunged his country to the levels of rogue nations such as Zimbabwe and Myanmar.
Serious comparisons are now being drawn with the Arab Spring nations of Egypt and Tunisia and the chances of similar people's uprising are now very high given the shock reactions from Najib and his Cabinet.
No remorse has been shown at all despite the wealth of clear video footage, the thousands of clips on You Tube, pictures, images and eyewitness account. Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai even told reporters off for pointing out the wealth of visual evidence. Top leaders led by Najib have also gone on camera to ridule the rally.
Indeed, the BN's 'damage-control' plan is to insist the protest was by a "small" group of malcontents and politically instigated by Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Bersih officials have estimated a crowd size of 100,000 and the police 6,000.
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is Najib's cousin, has warned the crackdown would continue and the authorities would next go after the foreign press and online media. The implicit threats in his words were clear. Few Malaysians would be surprised if another swoop against dissidents and political rivals was launched in the same style as the 1987 Operations Lalang crackdown.
Najib himself has vowed that his UMNO party, which dominates the BN ruling coalition, will "create chaos" if necessary.
“Don’t doubt our strength. UMNO has three million members. If we gather one million members, it is more than enough. We can conquer Kuala Lumpur.  If we want to create chaos, we can," Najib had told a UMNO event on Sunday, a day after the mammoth Bersih rally.
More protests
Pakatan, the country's main opposition, believes more protests will spring up if the Najib administration insisted on playing hardball.
"If they are not prepared to make any reforms to the election system and democracy, bigger uprising will happen anytime, and it is not necessarily before election, but can be also after election," said PAS president Hadi Awang.
"Brutal, it's completely uncalled for. A peaceful march, no provocation at all and planned. The Najib administrarion must answer our demand for free and fair elections and they are so scared of free elections, they pick people up just deny us our vote," said Anwar. 


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