Suhakam’s decision on inquiry lauded

Malaysiakini – Nov 16, 07
Rights group Suaram and polls watchdog Bersih today welcomed the announcement by Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to hold a public inquiry into the use of violence and live bullets by the police to disperse a ceramah in Batu Buruk, Kuala Terengganu recently.

The groups – in separate statements – also expressed satisfaction that Suhakam had agreed for the public inquiry despite overruling it earlier on grounds of legal restrictions.
“Although this decision comes in late and only after protests and pressure given by the public and civil society, it is nevertheless important that Suhakam has decided to hold the inquiry…,” said Suaram.
The ceramah on Sept 8 turned bloody and unruly when the police moved in to stop the function which was organised by Bersih.
The police claimed that the ceramah was unlawful. Two men, Suwandi Abdul Ghani (photo), 37, and Muhamad Azman Aziz, 21, sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and neck respectively in the melee.
Suaram urged those who witnessed the incident and persons who may be able to provide information and/or documents and other evidence on the incident, to come forward to assist in the inquiry.
The organisation said such witnesses should contact Suhakam directly and speak to Nurul Hasanah Ahamed at 03-26125669/5623 . They can also contact Suaram at 03-77843525 / 77835724.
Narrow terms of reference
Bersih, meanwhile, hoped that Suhakam will carry out its inquiry on the Batu Buruk incident as thoroughly as possible.
The organisation also called on witnesses to come forward and cooperate with the rights commission in its investigation.
However Bersih was concerned on the terms of reference for the inquiry, which only looked into the use of live bullets, the use of violence and if yes, to identify the perpetrators.
Suhakam’s terms of reference also include on how the riot started and to give appropriate recommendations.
“Suhakam must not sidestep the question of freedom of assembly in its inquiry,” said Bersih.
The public inquiry would be headed by Suhakam commissioner Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, assisted by two other commissioners – Prof Khoo Kay Kim and Asiah Abu Samah (photo).
No date has been fixed for the inquiry but it is expected to be held by the end of the year.