Malaysia : Stop repression on peaceful protesters !

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expresses its deepest concern regarding the violent repression of the peaceful protest against the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 1st August 2009, and the arrest of around 500 protesters, including under-aged persons, in Malaysia.

According to the information received, a peaceful demonstration held against the Internal Security Act (ISA) was strongly repressed by thousands of police and security forces, including riot squad members, in Kuala Lumpur. Eyewitnesses reported the use of tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest of more than 15.000 persons and the arrest of hundreds of protesters. Around 38 teenagers were reportedly arrested during the rally. More than 60 people arrested in Saturday’s protest were still in custody on Sunday 2nd August 2009. Around 30 detainees were charged by a Kuala Lumpur court with taking part in an illegal rally or aiding an illegal organization.

FIDH stresses that the police repression of the anti-ISA rally constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore, FIDH calls the Malaysian government to guarantee the physical and mental integrity of all persons detained and proceed to their immediate and unconditional release. In addition, FIDH urges the authorities to drop the charges against all peaceful protesters. The authors of mistreatment or excessive use of violence should be held accountable before independent and impartial tribunals. FIDH wishes to remind the Malaysian authorities that the arrest of under-aged protesters constitutes a clear violation of Articles 13 and 15 of the International Convention of Children’s Rights to which Malaysia is a state party.

FIDH has already draw the attention of Malaysia to the serious breaches on human rights caused by the Internal Security Act. In 2003, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered the law as contrary to international human rights norms since it allows two-year renewable detention without trial. FIDH maintains its call for the immediate abolition of the Internal Security Act, and the respect of the right of all persons detained under the ISA to a fair trial, in accordance with international human rights standards.

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