Expressions of racist ideas a serious concern — Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

SEPT 15 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (the Commission) refers to the impending public assembly on September 16, 2015, also known as “Himpunan Maruah Melayu” or “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” that has received the green light to proceed at Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur.

The Commission is pleased that the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has assured that for the duration of the assembly, the safety and security of all Malaysians will be ensured, and reiterates that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

The Commission advises that restrictions shall not be placed on the exercise of this right other than such as are prescribed by law, and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security and/or public order.

However, the Commission is seriously concerned with the expressions of racist ideas, opinions and statements made by the spokespersons of the assembly, as reported in the media. This in the Commission’s view could likely stir up racial or religious hatred, and may constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. The Commission repeats that an assembly is deemed peaceful if its organisers have peaceful intentions and only peaceful assemblies are protected by law. Public assemblies that are deemed non-peaceful will also be unlawful because of the existence of a compelling and demonstrable threat of imminent violence.

Although the Commission has requested a meeting with the organisers, it is awaiting a response, and in the interim calls on the organisers to state clearly the objectives and purpose of the proposed assembly. The Commission hopes that the assembly will not pursue an unlawful objective.

The Commission also reiterates the following general guidelines with regard to peaceful assemblies:

Any restrictions imposed on a peaceful assembly must have a legal basis, as must the mandate and powers of the restricting authority (eg: City Hall / local authority).

Participants must refrain from taking the law into their own hands and respect at all times that the authorities have their roles and responsibilities in maintaining and preserving the security, peace and order of the country.

The organisers of the assembly shall fully cooperate with the authorities, in particular the police, to ensure that the participants in the assembly comply with the law at all times.

Further, the Commission is pleased to note that the Honourable Prime Minister has advised that Malaysians are free to participate in the assembly, within the confines of the law, and hopes that the same spirit and vigour will be extended to all peaceful assemblies in the future.

In carrying out its mandate, the Commission will be monitoring the planned assembly, subject to the safety and security considerations of its monitors. 

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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