We will march on Sunday

N Surendran

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

The Bar Council has called off the Dec 9 Human Rights Day march. I think it was a mistake to have done so but I have no interest in debating the rights and wrongs of that decision here. I write solely to declare that lawyers who are determined to defend the freedom to peaceful assembly will nevertheless march on Sunday at 7.30am from Sogo to Central Market in commemoration of Human Rights Day.

We will march for the following reasons:

a) It is our inalienable right to do so

b) Article 10 of the Federal Constitution gives us the right

c) Because they have got some cheek telling us we have to petition the police before exercising our fundamental rights. A right that can only be exercised with the consent of the district police chief is a shriveled up, pitiful kind of right. It is a shadow of the shadow of a right.

d) We are not inclined to be part of a culture of obedience to the high-handed directives of a tainted and unjust state apparatus

e) We are even less inclined to be menaced by a state which is so pathetically terrified of its citizens peacefully assembling

Let us be clear about this. Any march or walk carried out under the authority and indulgence of the local police chief is not an assembly of free citizens. It is nothing more than a chain-gang of miserable citizens marching under a cloud of fear.

The Bar Council as an institution has decided to cancel the march. But there is no reason why lawyers in their individual capacities and civil society groups should not carry on with the Sunday march. In view of the increasingly strident attacks by the authorities on the right to peacefully assemble, we have formed the ‘Lawyers for Freedom of Assembly’ to defend and protect that right. Caving in to the threats and hard tactics of the authorities will seriously set back the ongoing struggle for a just and free Malaysia.

All lawyers and civil society groups are welcome to join us in our Sunday march. Support this move to preserve the basic rights of all Malaysians.

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