Malaysiakini Letter

Blaming students like blaming women for rape

William de Cruz  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Global Bersih condemns the Malaysian government for doing nothing to address the violent attack on the Occupy Dataran student movement.

Putrajaya's criticism of the injured victims is like blaming women for rape.

Putrajaya's failure to stand by and protect young citizens who converged in the heart of our capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is the act of a government that has failed civil society.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's silence in this matter is also an act of sacrilege in the face of Malaysia's history of independence - if Malaysians are not safe in Merdeka Square, they are not safe anywhere in Malaysia.

The government has clearly given the impression that they are supportive of the scores of thugs who attacked the students, some of whom were beaten while asleep in their tents.

Social media reports and news portals have told people all over the world how Malaysian police officers stood by as the unprovoked violence was inflicted on women and men in KL.

Neither the government nor the inspector-general of police has acted to hold the uniformed personnel to account, or try to apprehend the attackers.

Victims have told the world that at least one of the attackers was armed and others were recognised as being members of Umno Youth and the Special Branch of police - these thugs had already been involved in other recent incidents of violence against Malaysians exercising their right to gather peacefully.

In Perth, Global Bersih co-ordinator Yap Soon Yee said, "No one should be subjected to this kind of thuggery and intimidation. Democracy and freedom of expression are constantly under attack, and the attacks are growing under the watchful eyes of the government and police, and it gives the impression that they support these thugs.

"We appeal to the international community to lend their voice against such oppression of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and voices of dissent. Good neighbours must not stay silent when atrocities such as this attack are committed, but firmly reprimand the authorities and law enforcers who stood by and did nothing."

In Singapore, Ong Guan Sin said, "The violence is deplorable. Even more worrying are indications of involvement by Umno Youth and Special Branch. This makes even more urgent and resolute our case for the April 28 rally, as a way to express 'all is not well with Malaysia'."

In Geneva, Switzerland, Global Bersih facilitator Bala Chelliah said, "In a democratic country we assume that students have a right to ask for better opportunities to higher education, and that citizens can exercise freedom of expression untrammelled.

"We assume police will diligently protect from unprovoked violence those peaceful civilians who are unarmed and non-retaliatory.

"These basic assumptions of all civilised men and women took a horrendous beating at Dataran Merdeka.

"Geneva appeals to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to write to the Malaysian authorities condemning such actions and recommending an investigation to be carried out immediately."

In Melbourne, Global Bersih activist T Vicknaraj said, "This is a wake-up call. It is one thing to see politicians jeered at, threatened or even assaulted, but it's entirely another thing when young, passive students are bullied and assaulted, especially in the midst of armed police personnel who are employed by the taxpayer to guarantee protection of the meek. This is a blatant disgrace.

"What is more disappointing is to see politicians insinuate if not blatantly deny that such attacks took place, notwithstanding videos and numerous eyewitness statements.

"Bare denial and wayang kulit no longer suffice in the internet age, because action or inaction is witnessed throughout the world."

Jon-Michael Chia in Brisbane said, "What has happened to Malaysia and it's 'best democracy in the world'? Do we have to be afraid of being violently attacked whenever we have opposing ideas or views?

"We call upon the Malaysian government and the international community to condemn these thugs and to bring justice to the victims, whose only crime was to ask for something different from the government. We ask that the perpetrators be caught and tried under the law, as anyone else would be if they were found assaulting another person.

"Do not forget that all eyes are on Malaysia.

"These thugs can break our bones. They can never break our desire for a better Malaysia."

Jordan Sugunasingam in Perth said, "This attack on the students camped at Dataran Merdeka is the latest incident in what appears to be a developing and rather worrying trend of certain groups being able to engage in thuggery and intimidation with impunity.

"What is of particular concern is that these groups carry out their activities in full view of the law, who take no action to contain them. The fact that all these attacks or acts of intimidation are targeted at those who are critical of the policies of the ruling party suggest that these groups are sanctioned by the authorities.

"If Malaysians wish to salvage their democratic rights, enshrined in the Constitution, they must come out in great numbers to support Bersih 3.0 on April 28 so the gathering cannot be subjected to any form of harassment and intimidation and, more importantly, so we can push for free and fair elections that would enable us to elect a government that would respect the constitutional rights of it citizens."

William de Cruz writes on behalf of Global Bersih

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