Monday, February 14, 2011

No bail for HRP members who refuse to remove shirts

(Malaysiakini) After a night spent in the Seremban district headquarters lock-up, freedom is still out of sight for the 22 Human Rights Party activists arrested in last night's police swoop.

While their brethren arrested nationwide are already out on bail since the arrest, those in Seremban have been threatened with up to seven more days in the can for refusing to remove their distinctive Orange shirts.

Last night, the 22 were denied bail and told to remain in the lock-up for the night because of that.

"Those detained were told to remove their shirts and hand them over (to the police), before they could be bailed out. But they stood firm. There is confusion now. We are negotiating," said the movement's Selangor chief K Selvam, when contacted.
Selvam and others are in the movement are currently trying to bail out their Negeri Sembilan colleagues which included its state chief, from police custody.

Yesterday, police moved to arrest members of the movement as they drove in convoys from several locations in the country to protest the use of the controversial novel 'Interlok' as required reading material in secondary schools.

According to police, the HRP activists were arrested for obstructing traffic and moving in a large group.

The 22 detainees have been on a hunger strike last night, revealed Selvam.

In a statement, meanwhile, human rights lawyer and PKR vice-president N Surendran (left) condemned the arrests as being "planned and concerted" and "intended to persecute and intimidate HRP members."
The arrests were unlawful, oppressive and in breach of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution guaranteeing the right to freedom of assembly and expression, said Surendran.

"Once again the government and police have displayed blatant disregard for the rule of law and democratic freedoms," said Surendran.

He also expressed being disturbed over the presence of five children among those detained by police.

"This action by police is in bad faith and gross disregard of laws protecting minors... The arrests were also carried out with excessive force and vulgar abuse was heaped upon some of those arrested," said Surendran, citing the assault on a Malaysiakini Citizen Journalist by police.

Commenting on the police's order for their Hindraf-Makkal Sakthi t-shirts to be confiscated, Surendran this was in "complete breach of the law" and "demonstrates the arbitrary conduct of the police."

"We call upon the IGP and Home Ministry to respect the Federal Constitution and the people's right to peaceably gather.

"We call upon the government to cease using police powers to stifle political dissent and to persecute legitimate opponents of the government.

"Finally, we demand that the government establish the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission) immediately to prevent the Home Ministry and police from continuing to abuse their powers.