Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Suhakam: Counter-demo not protected if it is to intimidate

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Counter-demonstrations cannot claim protection under the right to peaceful assembly if these are to "intimidate" others from assembling, the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) says.

"Suhakam is of the view that the right to counter-demonstrate should not be an act of intimidation to inhibit the right of others to demonstrate.

"If the intention of the organisers of a counter-demonstration is to prevent another assembly from taking place, or to interfere with it, the counter-demonstration will cease to enjoy the protection afforded by the right to freedom of peaceful assembly," Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said in a statement.

The statement is believed to be referring to the threat by the red-shirts to hold a counter-demonstration against the Bersih 5 rally on Nov 19.
The Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur is to demand for clean elections, clean government, the right to dissent, the empowerment Sabah and Sarawak and the strengthening of Parliament.
Razali added that public assemblies are by nature held in public spaces, so the authorities are obliged to facilitate this.

"As such, public assemblies should be regarded as a rightful use of public use.

"Suhakam firmly believes that there is a positive obligation on the part of the authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies and this obligation also extends to local authorities," he said.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall has barred Bersih from holding its demonstration at Dataran Merdeka and Jalan Raja, next to the historical square.

Bersih said it will respect this decision and rally near there.

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