*Media statement (17 June 2011)*
*CIJ supports Bersih 2.0’s call for peaceful assembly*
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia expresses its support
for Bersih 2.0’s call for a peaceful assembly on 9 July 2011 to highlight
the need for free and fair elections.
CIJ is also concerned that various parties, including the police and
Umno-controlled Utusan Malaysia, have condemned this peaceful assembly and
asked for it to be called off. CIJ is particularly concerned that Home
Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has raised the possibility of detentions
without trial under the Internal Security Act arising out of this assembly.
CIJ would like to remind the authorities that the right to peacefully
assemble is a guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
Furthermore, the need to apply for a police permit for peaceful assemblies
goes beyond the permitted restrictions under Article 10. CIJ draws attention
to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s repeated recommendations that the
requirement for police permits for peaceful assemblies be repealed and that
the police actively cooperate with demonstrators.
CIJ also would like to state that “causing traffic jams” is not a legitimate
reason to prevent peaceful assemblies. Such assemblies are a constitutional
right and the authorities should be taking steps to actively protect this
right and educate the public about the importance of this fundamental right.
If the government and the authorities are truly serious about preventing
“chaos” and maintaining public order, it should cooperate with Bersih 2.0,
instead of taking steps to hinder the gathering.
Properly cordoned-off roads, traffic marshals and police escorts along the
demonstration route will help to ensure a smooth demonstration and maintain
order. Setting up unnecessary road blocks across Petaling Jaya and Kuala
Lumpur, calling in hundreds of anti-riot police and busing in reinforcement
from outside Klang Valley, firing tear gas and water cannons and making
hundreds of arrests, as has been done in the past, only contributes to the
chaos that the authorities are purportedly keen on avoiding.
Bersih 2.0 has pledged to hold a peaceful, responsible gathering and has
openly stated their wish to cooperate with the police. This offer should be
actively taken up by the police to ensure the gathering remains peaceful and
CIJ supports Bersih 2.0’s call for free and fair elections, especially the
call for free and fair access to media during elections. It is apparent in
CIJ's ongoing media monitoring exercise that most of the mainstream print
media are heavily biased towards the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
Pakatan Rakyat leaders are often criticised without being given the right of
reply. This violates journalism ethics and must be corrected before the next
general election. All political parties should be given equal access to the
media and be allowed to advertise in all media without discrimination and
censorship, as demanded by Bersih 2.0.
CIJ also supports Bersih 2.0’s demands that proportionate airtime be
allocated on RTM and Bernama for all contesting parties, since these are
publicly funded media agencies.
For more information, please contact: Masjaliza Hamzah, CIJ Executive
Officer, 03-4023 0772
Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia
Web: cijmalaysia. org
Tel: +603-4023 0772
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The Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ) is a non-profit
organisation that aspires for a society that is democratic, just and free,
where all peoples will enjoy free media and the freedom to express, seek and
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