Najib needs to protect human rights

The Prime Minister of Malaysia’s first and foremost duty is to protect the welfare and human rights of all Malaysians.
In light of this, Bersih 2.0 is deeply saddened and disappointed by YAB Najib Razak’s declaration that supporters of the Bersih 2.0 rally are to be held responsible should chaos ensue on the 9th of July.
At every stage, Bersih 2.0 has continuously repeated its firm commitment to completely peaceful and principled activism. Bersih 2.0 has always renounced violence in any way, shape or form, and consistently called upon others to adhere to the same values. Civil society has never once been responsible for turning a peaceful gathering into anything more.
In gathering peacefully on the 9th of July, Malaysians from all ethnic, religious and political backgrounds are exercising their constitutional right to have their voices heard in a democratic, non-violent manner.
Guaranteeing the safety of these patriotic citizens is in fact the responsibility of the government that the Prime Minister himself leads. We are glad that the Prime Minister has finally broken his silence regarding the 9th of July, but are disappointed that instead of fulfilling his government’s role as the protector of the constitutional rights and safety of peace loving Malaysians, he has chosen instead to misrepresent our intentions and wield the dark sceptre of unwarranted repressive “consequences”.
Bersih 2.0 is equally disappointed at the accusation that the purpose of Bersih 2.0 is to “wrest back political momentum from the BN.”
The Prime Minister must have either failed to have read and understood our stated goals, or is deliberately putting Bersih 2.0 in a misleading light. As a movement, we have no interest whatsoever in the political momentum of any political party – our goal is to make the electoral system truly free and fair so that all political parties in Malaysia, bar none, can contest on a level playing field, where the rakyat can freely choose whoever they think is best to lead them.
We have time and time again invited Barisan Nasional to be part of this process as we truly value the support of any and all groups to help bring about a more just Malaysia for all. We invite the government of the day to reject any paranoia, which may lead to the view that this movement disadvantages them in any way and instead walk with us towards bring about the badly needed changes expressed in our 8 points.
Indeed, this is the perfect opportunity for the Prime Minister to demonstrate the progressive views he has espoused both at home and abroad. He can conclusively do so simply by allowing the July 9th rally to proceed unhindered and by directing all government agencies to cooperate fully with all involved to ensure that each and every Malaysian wishing to exercise their constitutional right may do so without any fear of clashes or chaos.
We feel that this would be the best use of the energies and resources of the police, who have continued to thoroughly perplex observers both locally and abroad by arresting patriotic, peace-loving Bersih 2.0 supporters for “waging war against the monarch”. Surely this stark and alarming lack of logic and common sense will further tarnish our nation’s image and contradict the values championed by the Prime Minister and his government.
We agree with the sentiment informing the Prime Minister’s statement that political power is in the hands of the people. However, it is our considered view that until comprehensive reforms are introduced into the electoral system to make it free and fair, political power will remain in the hands of a select few, and not Malaysians at large.
Bersih 2.0 is of the view that these two weeks will be a defining moment for the Prime Minister and his government. As the final authority in the government, any crackdown on civil society, refusal to guarantee the safety of Malaysians on July 9th, or rhetoric that unfairly demonises patriotic, peace loving citizens will be a tragic reflection of the failure of the Prime Minister to live up to their promises and the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Malaysian people.
Alternatively, for the Prime Minister to firstly, work together with Bersih 2.0 in pursuit of goals that are completely non-partisan and in accordance with the most basic of civil and human rights and secondly, guarantee a peaceful day free from violence of any sort on the 9th of July, will be the best possible demonstration of a firm commitment to the true spirit of 1Malaysia. We once again make an open, sincere and heartfelt call to the Prime Minister to walk with the rakyat, not against us.
Issued by Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin, Subramaniam Pillay and Arul Prakkash.