The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) expresses our solidarity with the youth who took to the streets to criticize the government, previously in Kampung Muhibbahraya, Tawau and most recently in Kampung Parit Raja, Batu Pahat, Johor.
We strongly condemn the excessive action by the police to silence the voices of youth in Parit Raja by detaining them for four days under Section 144, 269, 505 (b) of the Penal Code, Section 8 of the Explosives Act and Section 48 of the Road Transport Act 1987.
They were only exercising their rights as stated in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which allows the freedom of assembly and speech, to criticize the government’s failure in addressing the worsening socioeconomic problems faced by the people as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As in any other peaceful rallies, the police should assist demonstrators especially the youth so that they can assemble safely and in peace. They should be allowed to gather and the government should listen to the people’s grievances.
If the government is in tune with the situation, they will realize that the closure of effective official spaces to discuss the people’s situation such as Parliament, are the reasons for such public demonstrations. Parliament is one of the best avenues for elected representatives to bring forward existing problems and debate solutions on social and economic issues so that this country can overcome its Covid-19 crisis.
BERSIH 2.0 calls on the police to release the youth who were detained in Parit Raja immediately without any conditions. The government needs to immediately open Parliament so that the elected representatives can give their feedback formally in order for the government to improve their actions in dealing with Covid-19. Closure of spaces for free expression will only result in bolder actions by the people.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0