KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Human rights groups are urging the government to end the alleged victimisation of human rights defenders and marginalised communities.

A statement endorsed by 24 groups today urged the government not to take the side of the “bullies”, adding that the government’s response towards the International Women’s Day march on Saturday have been “heavy-handed and grossly misplaced”.

“Denying a group of marginalised groups their right to participate in democracy is truly an abuse of democracy,” it said.

It stated that the current government was built upon the “foundation of rule of law and justice”, with a manifesto that prioritises women and ensures the inclusivity of marginalised people.

“Many diverse persons, including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) people, voted, volunteered as PACAs (polling agent and counting agent), and committed to the change in the ruling government,” it added, referring to the general election last year.

It also alleged that online backlash over the march in the city had resulted in some participants being “harassed” by parents, friends, schoolmates, colleagues and employers as the media had deliberately mischaracterised it as an LGBT march.

The statement was endorsed by Justice for Sisters; Malaysia Design Archive; Queer Lapis; All Women’s Action Society (AWAM); Pelangi Campaign; In Between Cultura; Diversity Malaysia; Perak Women for Women (PWW); People Like Us, Hang Out! (PLUHO); Tenaganita; Transmen of Malaysia (TOM); Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO); Women Centre for Change (WCC); Association of Women Lawyers (AWL); Seksualiti Merdeka; SAWO (Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group); Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (KRYSS),The Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia (CIJ Malaysia); Bentarakata; Society for Equality, Respect and Trust for All (SERATA), Bikar Alam; Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS); Bersih Sabah; and Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA).