Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memorandum to Penang CPO

29 JUNE 2011

We the undersigned civil society groups in Penang strongly condemn the arrest of 30 PSM activists under Section 122 of the Penal Code 122 for “waging wars against the Yang DiPertuan Agong” that carries life imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years.

The PSM activists, including Sungai Siput MP D Jeyakumar were halted by police at the Sungai Dua toll plaza, when they were on their way to attend a ceramah dubbed ‘Udahlah tu, bersaralah BN’ at Bayan Baru. The police who found PRM leaflets and newsletter and other paraphemalia including T-Shirts bearing the images of former Communist fighters Chin Peng, Suriani Abdullah and Rashid Maidin, came to the conclusion that the group was trying to revive the communist ideology and therefore they should be investigated for “waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong”.

This is not the only example of abuse of power by police. Basic necessities in the lockup such as adequate washrooms, water etc do not meet basic standards of living. Human rights violation cases taken place during their detention, when a woman who suffered from diabetes was given a cup of sweet water when she asked for warm water, another one was punched and kicked by the police, while all of them were denied access to lawyers. We have also learned that the 7 detainees held at the Penang Police Headquarters are put into solitary confinement and we find this extraordinary treatment very worrying. We have no information on the condition of the other 24 detainees currently held at Kepala Batas. The extreme accusations by the police on peace-loving citizens of this country defies common sense and so we urge the police to open up their purported investigations and conduct for immediate scrutiny. The police cannot simply accuse citizens of a crime and proceed to mistreat them under detention. We reiterate the need for lawyers to be allowed routine visits to ensure the well being of people in police custody.

We are deeply shocked and disturbed by this blatant disregard to the fundamental of human rights in Malaysia as enshrined in Federal Constitution. It is a case of abuse of power by the government machinery, including the police force, the failure of police-prosecutor-judiciary collusion to protect fundamental human rights.

The arrest further illustrates the fear of the ruling party of the people power, when BERSIH 2.0 rally is just around the corner, while police has been used as a political tool by the ruling party to hit their objective. This is clearly seen when a nationwide police crackdown on pre-Bersih activities and reported ban on political events.

We are very much concerned over the continuous act of obtaining blanket unilateral restraining orders against the general public as a means to crack down any activity opposing the ruling party. We are of the view that the act of obtaining such restraining orders is a serious abuse of legal process. Once again, police is the accomplice in this matter.

We, in the light of these incidences, urge the CPO to

1. Release all the detainees immediately!

The arrest is truly an unlawful act and disregard of the Constitutional Rights. Police should release all the detainees immediately and apologise to the public.

2. Take action on police who misuse of power

Any ill-treatment received by the detainees during their detention is not tolerable. Police should be at the people’s side and not the rulling party’s. It is serious when all the injuries, physically or mentally, come from the police because it means the police themselves are the criminals.

3. Stop being used as a political tool by using arbitrary restraining orders against peaceful citizens.

Police has been used as a political tool to arrest citizens exercising their rights. Such orders are made based solely on one party’s prejudice that undermines the subjected parties’ right to be heard.

4. Respect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

Police should stop disrupting peaceful assemblies and any other activities, either BERSIH 2.0 or leafleting. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly is enshrined in our Federal Constitution. Respect these freedom means respect your own freedom and vice versa.

5. Stop arresting and harassing activists.

Activists have always been exposed to arrest and detention without trial because most of their demands are away from the benefit of the ruling party. Therefore, in most time police will get order from the ruling party to crackdown their activities. Please stop arresting and harassing the activists for the sake of the society.

6. Grant access to lawyers and family members to visit

We are extremely concerned that conditions of police lockups do not meet basic living standards. Police have also been reported to be mistreating (including beating up) detainees. We demand that lawyers and family members be allowed to visit detainees immediately to ensure their well being under custody.

7. Concentrate more on catching criminals

Instead of getting their head into disrupting activities which threaten the position of ruling party, police should making more effort in catching criminals.

Endorsed by:
1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Ong Jing Cheng
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Penang Branch Coordinator,
63B-01-07, University Heights,
Jalan Sungai Dua,
11700 Penang.
Tel / Fax: +6 04-6582285
Mobile phone: +6 012 7583 779
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