SUHAKAM Commissioner: Accomplice to Human Rights Violations

Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Suaram condemns the statement of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) commissioner Siva Subramaniam that the police did not resort to violence and had acted professionally in the rally organised by BERSIH.

Once again, SUHAKAM has let the people down with the latest statement by its commissioner. Instead of protecting human rights, commissioner Siva Subramaniam has steeped so low to defend the police and be an accomplice to human rights violations.
Prior to the November 10 rally, the commissioner reportedly said, on 9 November 2007, that the organisers need to follow the laws on public assembly and apply for a police permit, which contradicted the Commission’s own recommendations in the “Bloody Sunday” inquiry that “peaceful assemblies should be allowed to proceed without a license” (Page 97, Report of Suhakam Public Inquiry into the Incident at KLCC on 28 May 2006) in order to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
The government’s ban on the rally and threats to the organisers and public members not to proceed with the rally was already a violation to the right to freedom of assembly as enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. That the commissioner had chosen to stand with the government instead of being independent and holding to human rights principles is indeed appalling.
Suaram and many international media have documented that teargas and chemical-laced water were shot at the crowds at Masjid Jamek. The tear gas suffocated many, causing teary eyes and the acid-laced water drenched many causing painful burning skin. There was no reasonable ground at all for the police to shoot teargas and chemical-laced water as the crowd was unarmed and peaceful.
Suaram has also documented six people beaten by police. One of them, Aleyasak Hamid, broke his leg when he was pushed by police and stepped on his leg by the police after he fell down. Another victim, Mohd al-Farook, said he was kicked in the head when he was handcuffed at the back and fell on the floor. Four others – Mohd Asri Ahmad, Haji Abdul Hamid Baharuddin, Khairul Salleh Ahmad and Nasrullah Ahmad – also suffered from injuries as a result of police violence. The six victims have lodged police reports against the police brutality.
The video documentations of the teargas and chemical-laced water canons used and also the victims of police brutality are clear evidences that violence had been committed by the police and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU).
How the commissioner came to the conclusion that the police did not resort to violence is mind boggling. Clearly, the monitoring conducted by the commissioner is flawed and unprofessional, to say the least.
It is also a matter of concern as to why the commissioner was quick to defend the police without a proper monitoring and investigation. The statement of the commissioner unfortunately only indicates that he had compromised the position of SUHAKAM on peaceful public assembly and is partial to the police.
Suaram calls on the commissioner to make public the report of its monitoring on the November 10 rally, especially on the number of personnel who were involved in the mission, the areas covered and how he came to the conclusion.
The commissioner should retract his statement and apologise to the victims of police brutality, or else resign for whitewashing police violence instead of defending human rights.
John Liu
Documentation and Monitoring Coordinator