KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on assembly and association criticised today the arrests of 10 activists ahead of the Bersih 5 rally.
Maina Kiai said the “pre-emptive restriction of assembly rights” was counterproductive for Malaysia, its citizens and the ruling party.
“Malaysia — and indeed all countries — need a safety valve in situations where there is growing frustration and anger. How else can a government put its hand on the pulse of the people?” he said in a brief statement.
A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association monitors and reports on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association worldwide.
Some nine activists and pro-Bersih politicians were arrested last night ahead of the Bersih 5 street demonstration this morning, including polls reform group Bersih 2.0 head Maria Chin Abdullah.
News portal Malaysiakini reported that another activist, Adam Adli Abd Halim, was briefly arrested at KL Sentral but later released.
Red Shirts leader Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos was also picked up by the police early this morning ahead of his counter rally against the Bersih 5 protest in the capital city.
Bersih demonstrators have been told to meet at either Dataran Maybank or the National Mosque, before marching towards Dataran Merdeka, where they have been explicitly barred from entering by venue owner, City Hall.
Bersih 5 is pushing for free and fair elections, a clean government and a stronger democracy.