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A Azim Idris
Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen (left) says no rally can be declared as 'illegal' under the Peaceful Assembly Act or Penal Code or even for failure to get 'permission' from the police or City Hall. — TRP file pic
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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22, 2015:
It is extremely irresponsible for the authorities to mislead the public and make exaggerated claims that the rally is “illegal” or “out to topple the government”, said Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen.
He said this in light of the Coalition of Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) planned protest between Aug 29 and Aug 30. Its demands were “clear, peaceful and certainly within democratic norms”.
“Bersih’s previous rallies and other rallies in general have been peaceful until the authorities unnecessarily arrested, assaulted, shot tear gas and used chemical-laced water cannons against protesters.”
The authorities, Paulsen said, should not feign ignorance that under our Federal Constitution, freedom of assembly is guaranteed as long as it is peaceful.
He said no rally could be declared as “illegal” under the Peaceful Assembly Act, Penal Code or for failure to get “permission” from the police or City Hall.
“We would like to remind the authorities that after the Court of Appeal’s landmark decision in Nik Nazmi’s case, the clearest possible message has been sent.
“Every Malaysian citizen can assemble peacefully, a fundamental right that is guaranteed under Article 10 and any attempt to criminalise peaceful assembly in whatever manner or form is unconstitutional.”
Paulsen said the authorities should be mindful that it is their responsibility to handle any agent provocateur, saboteur or counter demonstration that may occur before and during the rally.
“Do not use them as a convenient excuse to demonise and crack down on the organisers and participants, who only want to demonstrate peacefully.
“We urge the authorities to respect the people’s right to peaceful assembly and further call on them to cooperate with the organisers for a successful rally, including by closing off certain roads and facilitating traffic flow.”
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