Police must guarantee Jerit cyclists' right to enter Parliament
A group of people who went on a cycling tour across the peninsular to raise awareness on national issues were arrested, interrogated, held for hours in police station and their bicycles torched by arsonists. Among them are two parliamentarians who supported the exercise. At first, police said their arrest is due to illegal assembly. Then, perhaps realizing that there was no assembly involved, the police now said it's an offence for roping in minors in the exercise. Civil society protested strongly at this crude attempt to stop the group, Jaringan Orang Tertindas (Jerit) from publicly raising issues, in a joint statement below.
We, the undersigned civil society groups, demand the Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar and Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan to immediately stop the police's harassment of the Oppressed People's Movement (Jerit) "Ride for Change" cycling team. The Ministry and the Police must also guarantee the cyclists' safety and freedom to submit their memorandum demanding policy and institutional reforms to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Opposition Leader this Thursday (Dec 18).
In the latest incident, 57 Malaysians including PSM parliamentarian Dr D Jeyakumar, PKR state assemblywoman Gan Pei Nie and 26 minors were arrested at Rawang on Monday. Besides, The 26 minors (under 18) were kept at the Rawang police station overnight by the Welfare Department pending release to their parents in the morning. However the parents have since been prevented from entering the Rawang police station by the police themselves in order to take custody of their children. This intentional delaying of the return of the children to their parents is strongly criticised. The police are intentionally causing additional and unnecessary trauma upon the parents and children alike as a form of police-inflicted punishment.
Before this, 121 arrests had been made at nine of the stops in the nationwide tour raising public awareness on minimum wage, ISA, housing, inflation, local elections and privatization.
The police's absurdity in arresting armless cyclists has just made itself and Malaysia a laughing stock internationally after charging at citizens singing the national anthem on November 9. What threat can a group of cyclists leafleting and talking with people pose to a country? The police's ridiculous act merely suggests a paranoid and archaic police force and a senseless and incompetent government that cannot handle citizen participation in a modern society.
We warn the Police to immediately retract its threat to arrest cyclists at Parliament on Thursday. Arresting citizens to prevent their meeting with the prime minister and parliamentary opposition leader in the Parliament House is to openly insult both the Parliament and the constitutional monarchy which heads the august house. Any police commander who dares to order an invasion of the Parliamentary compound, like King Charles I's soldiers who invaded English Parliament in 1642, should realize such action is akin to mounting a coup and be prepared to face the colossal implication.
- Civil Rights Committee, KLSCAH
- Youth Section, KLSCAH
- Writer Alliance for Media Independence
- Centre for Independent Journalism
- People's Parliament
- Group of Concerned Citizens
- DAP Selangor
- Youth for Change
- Centre for Orang Asli Concerns
- Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform.
- Malaysia Youth And Students Democratic Movement(DEMA)
- Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
- Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)
- Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
- Civil Society Committee, LLG
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia
- Community Development Center
- Citizen Think Tank.
- Inter Vasity Council （IVC）
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor （Empower）
- Student Unions of New Era Collegue