Ravina Shamdasani urges the Malaysian government to abide by its international human rights obligations to protect the rights of all Malaysians to gather peacefully and to express their opinions.
We are concerned by reports that organisers of an anti-government protest in Malaysia have been subjected to threats and harassment, and we call on all sides to stay calm and exercise restraint ahead of this weekend’s planned rally in Kuala Lumpur.
Police have reportedly advised the public against participating in the rally, stating that the organisers had so far not met all the conditions under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
But the pro-democracy Bersih group, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, says it is determined to go ahead with the rally. The group is calling for electoral reform and for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The Bersih group has embarked on a roadshow in recent weeks to promote the rally, and there have been a number of confrontations between supporters of the rival groups.
Civil society groups have also reported that Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah and members of her family have received death threats from unknown individuals. Reports also say vehicles belonging to Bersih activists and their families have been vandalised.
We urge the Government of Malaysia to abide by its international human rights obligations to protect the rights of all Malaysians to gather peacefully and to express their opinions, and to investigate the reports of harassment and intimidation.
Ravina Shamdasani is a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.