Home Coalitions Clean and Fair Elections Bersih 2.0 urges cops to consider different date, venue for red-shirt rally

Bersih 2.0 urges cops to consider different date, venue for red-shirt rally

The Red Shirts protesting outside Malaysiakini - Photograph: Yusof Mat Isa/Malay Mail

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Bersih 2.0 would like to remind the police of Section 18 in PAA 2012, which states that should a counter assembly take place which will cause conflict between the participants of the assemblies, it is the duty of the authorities to provide an alternative date, time, and venue for the counter assembly.

Justice S Nantha Balan, in his decision yesterday to dismiss an injunction application against Bersih 5, said that “Section 18 of PAA operates as a safety valve to avert a clash of conflict. The power to do this lies with the police and not the traders.”

“I agree it is for the authorities who are allowed to regulate or place such restriction while at the same time allow for freedom of assembly (as enshrined under the Constitution),” he continued.

The red shirts led by Jamal Yunos has, from the beginning, identified themselves as a counter rally, specifically to protest against Bersih. We urge the police to take the appropriate course of action.

Bersih 2.0 will give our full cooperation to the police this Saturday, 19 November. We strongly urge the police to refrain from using tear gas or to arrest any of our participants as we have complied with the law.

Bersih 2.0 is also shocked by the threats of action against students and civil servants for participating in the Bersih 5 peaceful rally.

Monash University Malaysia, Curtin University Sarawak, and several public universities such as UKM, UPM, UiTM and UTHM have warned their students against joining “illegal rallies” or they will face disciplinary action ahead of the Bersih 5 rally held this Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu and in over 60 cities worldwide. Curtin had also cited a warning circular issued by the Ministry of Higher Education.

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Similarly, chief secretary to the government Ali Hamsa warned civil servants to stay away from “illegal rallies” lest they face disciplinary action which may include a pay cut or sacking.

Bersih 2.0 is appalled that the government and institutes of higher learning in particular are imposing such restrictions on their students. They should not be punished for exercising their right to free movement and freedom of expression.

The warnings also seem to have misunderstood the legal nature of our rallies. Bersih 2.0 has already sent in our 10-day notices for the Bersih 5 rally, which is what is required under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012. No permit is needed.

While Monash has issued an apology, we hope that other colleges and universities refrain from restricting the freedom of their students.

The universities’ and government’s threats of disciplinary action are a clear intimidation tactic to scare students and civil servants from attending the Bersih 5 rally tomorrow. More worryingly, this is a clear impingement on a citizen’s basic freedoms.

Despite the intimidation that we have faced since we announced Bersih 5, BERSIH 2.0 urges Malaysians to join us on the streets tomorrow and stand united for a better Malaysia.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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