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Right to peaceful assembly is not an excuse to perpetrate violence

Graphic: Tan Sri Hasmy Agam

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has expressed concern at the actions of some participants involved in the #Merah169 public assembly.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (the Commission) notes the conclusion of the "#Merah169" public assembly yesterday.

In accordance with its mandate, the Commission monitored the public assembly and wishes to recognise the significant positive developments with regard to the policing, handling and management of the public assembly by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM).

In the Commission's view, these must be commended and recognised as good practices and should be consistently maintained in any future peaceful assembly.

However, the Commission regrets that the peaceful assembly had turned non-peaceful when a group of participants pushed past police restriction lines in an attempt to reach certain parts of Kuala Lumpur that the organisers and PDRM had initially agreed were prohibited.

The Commission is also perturbed by the irresponsible and confrontational actions of several participants for inciting lawless and disorderly behaviour by flaunting racially-charged placards and for uttering slogans that promoted racial or religious hatred in our multi-religious and secular society.

Such behaviour, in the Commission's opinion, constitutes the intentional provocation of violence which cannot be condoned and must be appropriately dealt with.

The Commission reiterates that advocacy of racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law.

The Commission cautions that protest demonstrations and public assemblies must be peaceful in order to be protected by international human rights law, and repeats that should there be disorderly conduct at any stage during a peaceful assembly, protection may be forfeited.

The Commission reminds all concerned that for democracy to flourish, people must be guaranteed their fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and of assembly, as a means to influence, among others, public policies.

However, the right to peaceful assembly is not an excuse to perpetrate violence which will only make a mockery of the concept of peaceful assembly.

Date: 17 September 2015

Source: Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

Image credits

  1. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam - Human Rights Commission of Malaysia