Thursday 30 August 2012

‘Janji Demokrasi’ rally unlawful, cops say

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 —  The police have declared as unlawful a grassroots rally to usher in the country's 55th Independence Day celebration just hours before the gathering is to take place tonight at Dataran Merdeka here.

Dang Wangi district police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad told Maria Chin Abdullah, one of the organisers of the "Janji Demokrasi" rally, that the planned assembly had breached the law on three counts —  namely for failing to give sufficient advanced notice to the police; for failing to gain the venue owner's agreement and for "threatening preparations to celebrate National Day  on 21 August 2012".

"I wish to inform that the Janji Demokrasi Coalition's assembly to be held at Dataran Merdeka on 30 August 2012 between 2200 hours and 2400 hours is an assembly against the law on the following reasons," the district police chief said in a brief letter.

A copy of the letter was also made available to The Malaysian Insider.

Use of the public square is controlled by City Hall.

Chin Abdullah has said the rally —  to be held at Jalan Sultan and Dataran Merdeka from 10pm tonight and will see participants disperse after midnight — will go ahead even without the authorities' permission as it was to be a peaceful assembly.

“We have agreed with police that there will be no banners, stickers or speeches. Only Pak Samad (A.Samad Said) will recite poetry. We promise the rally will be peaceful,” she told reporters after being called in by the police over its proposed event three days ago.

Zainuddin however has said the police will arrest participants if they break the law under the Peaceful Assembly Act that came into force in April this year.

Tonight's gathering, previously named "Janji Bersih", is organised by a coalition of 47 non-government organisations that has called on members of the public to wear yellow to remind the government of its electoral reform promises that have yet to be introduced.

On April 28, a larger coalition of over 82-NGOs had gathered at the landmark Dataran Merdeka to push the government to clean up the electoral roll before the 13th general elections, which must be called by next April when the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's mandate expires.

The rally, organised by the Bersih electoral movement, had resulted in an unprecedented violent clash between the police and demonstrators which is being investigated for allegations of human rights abuses.

The Bersih group has however made clear it is not involved in tonight's rally despite both two of its top-level steering committee members — Chin Abdullah and Datuk A. Samad Said — wearing hats in the "Janji Demokrasi" coalition.

No comments:

Post a Comment