H.E. Rafendi DjaminChairperson of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat Jakarta, IndonesiaFax: +62 (0)21 739 8234 / 385 7316Email: email@example.comOpen Letter to the Chairperson of AICHR regarding the Threats and Intimidation by the Malaysian Governmentagainst the Electoral Reform Mass Rally Supporters
1 July 2011
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the South East Asian Committee for Advocacy(SEACA), the Southeast Asian Center for e-Media (SEACeM), the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), and theInitiatives for International Dialogue (IID) write to you today to draw your urgent attention to the on-going threatsand intimidation by the Malaysian government against the electoral reform campaigners and supporters.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) is comprised of Malaysian civic and human rightsorganisations campaigning for electoral reforms and independent monitoring of elections in the country. Bersih 2.0plans to hold a mass rally on 9 July 2011 to demand for, among others, fair access of all political parties to themedia, reform of postal ballots and a revision of the electoral roll to address irregularities for the upcoming 13thGeneral Elections to be held in mid-2012.
We are appalled over the current wave of arrests and intimidation by the Malaysian authorities, which have takenplace weeks ahead of the rally. As of today, around 120 campaigners and supporters have been arrested fordistributing pamphlets or wearing Bersih 2.0 t-shirts for the 9 July mass rally. In particular, on 29 June 2011, thepolice raided the Bersih 2.0 office in Selangor without a warrant and confiscated election reform campaign materialsincluding t-shirts, leaflets, laptops and banners while they arrested six staff members and one volunteer in theoffice. Although some of them were later released on bail, we are deeply concerned that there are still manyindividuals who remain in detention.
One of main purposes of ASEAN is “to strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and topromote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms” in the region. The attempt by the Malaysiangovernment to hinder the 9 July rally and weaken the electoral reform campaigns significantly undermines ASEAN’sinspiration and subverts its aim to establish the community of caring nations. The government of Malaysia must notshut down the space for citizens to freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,which are essential components for a solid and vibrant democratic society.
In this respect, we urge you to exert your full capacity as the Chairperson in order for AICHR to swiftly address thisalarming situation of human rights in Malaysia, on which the concerns of international community are mounting. The Terms of Reference mandates AICHR to “uphold international human rights standards as prescribed by the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights”, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly among its members, andparticularly Malaysia. Therefore, we also strongly call on AICHR:
1. To address and respond to this appalling situation of human rights in Malaysia as a matter of urgency, asconsistent with its mandate;2. To urge the government of Malaysia to stop further arrests of campaigners and supporters of the 9 July rally andto release immediately all those being detained; and3. To recommend the government to allow Malaysian citizens to assemble peacefully on 9 July and let theirelectoral reform demands be heard.