Called in by police, Kepung Demi Palestin organisers say have right to peaceful assembly, questioning a waste of time 

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Of the 15 people called in by city police to help investigations over a picket outside the US Embassy dubbed “Kepung Demi Palestin” last month, 12 people turned up.

Three were absent as they were said to be outstation, those who attended the police questioning today told reporters outside the Wangsa Maju district police station this afternoon.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia executive director Sevan Doraisamy, who was one of the people called in to record his statement, described the process as “a waste of time”.

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy speaks to the media outside IPD Wangsa Maju January 5, 2024. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“This investigation is an absolute waste of time, when the six-day assembly was conducted in a peaceful manner whilst the police were present to ensure public safety.

“On this note, investigating 15 organisers and speakers unnecessarily consumes limited police resources, when these officers and time spent could have been directed towards actual crime cases,” he told reporters.

He also described the investigations as an intimidation tactic.

“It also disincentives them from legitimately exercising their right to express themselves collectively and on a wider level, political participation,” Sevan said, of the rally organisers.

“As long as non-violence is upheld, the right to peacefully assemble is inalienable, regardless of whether notice has been given or not,” he added.

He said the police should have facilitated their assembly as laid down in the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012, instead of saying it was unlawful.

Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek, who was also called for police questioning, agreed with Sevan and said Malaysians have a right to hold a peaceful assembly under the Federal Constitution.

Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek was also called for police questioning. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“Those who are here today were only exercising their right under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, the right to hold peaceful assembly.

“So we must ask the government to not repeatedly call people to go and give the statement to the police, to have investigation papers being opened against those who are merely exercising their right under the constitution,” he said.

“They are not criminals, but why are they treating them like criminals?” he asked.

Zaid called upon the government to halt all investigations under the PAA 2012.

He said the investigation under Section 9(5) of the PAA should not be taking place.

He claimed the courts have made a previous ruling that such actions by law enforcers are “unconstitutional”.

Section 9 of the Peaceful Assembly Act states that an organiser must notify the Officer in Charge of the Police District in which the assembly is to be held 10 days ahead.

Apart from Sevan and Zaid, the 12 who turned up today included former Batu MP Chua Tian Chang who is now spokesman for the Sekretariat Solidarity Palestin, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance secretary-general Amir Hariri Abd Hadi, Deputy MCA Youth chief Mike Chong Yew Chuan, and former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Chua said the organisers are confident they followed all laws during the five-day picket.

“The investigations went well. All of us followed procedures. We are willingly cooperating with the police. We are confident that what is being done in this ‘Kepung Demi Palestin, is within our rights guaranteed in the constitution and also the Peaceful Assembly Act,” he said.

However, Zaid claimed that some lawyers were not allowed to accompany their clients during the investigation.

“I think some of the police are trying to stop the lawyers from exercising their function and not allowing the lawyers to company clients during the statement taking and I think that is unbecoming conduct of the police officers as well as PDRM as a whole. The lawyers are exercising their legal function and they must be allowed,” he said.

Last Monday, Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Allaudeen Abdul Majid said police are still in the process of obtaining statements from the organisers of the Kepung Demi Palestin rally to assist in the investigation under the PAA 2012.

The picket was held from December 26 until New Year’s Eve, where they demanded four things: The end to the arbitrary killings of Palestinians; an immediate, permanent and unconditional truce; addressing the immediate needs of civilians in Gaza for both aid and protection; and the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign state.

 

 

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