Police must stop harassing BERSIH activists

Press Statement: 5 August 2008
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) condemns the police’s continued harassment and intimidation of citizens for participating in the BERSIH Rally on 10 November last year, and calls on Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to immediately inst5ruct the police to stop  intimidating the participants of the rally and respect the Federal Constitution which guarantees every Malaysian’s right to peaceful assembly.
Two BERSIH volunteers, Mohamad Azif bin Mohamad Aris and Abdul Halim bin Mohd Sharif received calls from an ASP Amran Mod Jusin fromt he Commercial Crimes Division (CCD) to give their statements today. The reason they are being summoned to the CCD, we are told, is that their names were found on the BERSIH website. On 12 June, BERSIH secretariat members Faisal Mustaffa and Medaline Chang were also called in by the CCD for questioning.
Prior to that, a number of BERSIH Steering Committee members have been questioned, as well as the ‘BERSIH 17’ who are being charged under Section 143 of the Penal Code for participating in an illegal rally.
The police’s indulgence in harassing citizens shows that the Barisan nasional government has not learned anything from the 8 March political tsunami. It is a different Malaysia today and the people will not take such intimidation lightly.
In fact, if the police persist in harassing those assoicated with the rally, the responsible thing to do would probably be for the tens of thousands of rally participants to ‘cooperate fully’ by ‘turning themselves in’ to the CCD to ‘assist in investigations’!
BERSIH urges PM Abdullah Badawi and Syed Hamid Albar to immediately instruct the police to stop its harassment of the people for exercising their right to assemble peacefully, as provided for in the Constitution.
At a time when crime is rampant and the people are more and more paranoid about their safety, the police’s preoccupation with trivial pursuits as well as the wastage of financial and manpower resources is not only completely unnecessary but simply outrageous.