22 December 2005
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Today, Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) protests against the recent arrest and detention of six peaceful demonstrators during the gathering of Southeast Asian leaders in Kuala Lumpur. Such action is a blatant violation of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly rights, which both are enshrine within the Malaysian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), said SEAPA statement.
On 14 December police arrested six people who protested at the 11th gathering of leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) being held in the Malaysian capital. The six arrested were Tian Chua, Fiqtriey Al-Hakimi, Ginie Lim, Jasmin Ng, Kolatt and Jadoi. Two of them were Burmese nationals.
The six were participants of a peaceful gathering held to protest and to highlight several long-standing human right issues in the ASEAN region, including the worsening political situation in Burma and on-going armed conflicts in southern Thailand.
According to SEAPA’ s local partner Center of Independent Journalism (CIJ), the six were subsequently taken to Pudu Jail, and were released on the evening of 15 December. Police who conducted the arrests are said to have also manhandled or physically assaulted some of the participants. Police could not be reached for comment.
“SEAPA, in solidarity with CIJ see the actions of the police against such peaceful demonstration as a threat to freedom of expression, clearly unconstitutional and contradictory of the spirit of democracy protected therein,”according to SEAPA statement
Article 10 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution guarantees the rights of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
“Moreover, such action of Malaysian police also serves to further tarnish the image of the ASEAN Summit, which has already been construed as a club of elitists, not a representative of the voices of their own citizens,” said SEAPA.
In a statement issued on 19 December, CIJ noted that the 14 December arrest is the most recent in a spate of similar arrests in this month.
On December 2nd, six gender and human rights activists were detained for chalking messages on sidewalks in the city, and in a separate arrest on the same day, a singer-songwriter was also detained for busking.