KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — A coalition of women’s rights groups have urged authorities to halt its investigations against activists Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan for joining a rally last night.
The groups said they are deeply concerned with seemingly intimidation and harassment of female activists, after Fadiah Nadwa Fikri was similarly singled out for speaking at a peaceful protest at Dataran Merdeka on Saturday.
“This intimidation and harassment of women activists is a dangerous trend — and it must stop,” said the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG).
“All of us have the right to express our views and to gather peacefully, as guaranteed by the Constitution. And we condemn any attempt to trample on these rights in the government’s attempt to crack down on dissent.”
JAG also demanded that Putrajaya respects and protects the public’s constitutional rights to freedom of expressions and freedom of associations and assembly.
The statement was endorsed by 13 groups, including Women’s Aid Organisation, All Women’s Action Society, EMPOWER, Sisters in Islam, Justice for Sisters, and Women’s Centre for Change.
Earlier today, the police confirmed that Ambiga and Marina are both under police investigation for their alleged involvement in a gathering expressing disapproval of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s appointment as the prime minister.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador confirmed the investigations today but did not specify the specific offences involved.
The investigation against Ambiga, Marina and the organisers of yesterday’s protest came just a day after the authorities launched a sedition probe into another protest organised by Fadiah Nadwa Fikri.
Fadiah had organised a peaceful protest on Saturday against the power grab that triggered the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government.
Civil society groups have raised concerns that the sedition investigation against Fadia could signal a return of the uncompromising rule under Barisan Nasional, which is now part of the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
However, Abdul Hamid assured Malaysians today that the authorities will not curtail the freedom of expression and would allow the public to assemble as long as this was in accordance with existing laws.