Sisters in Islam (SIS) supports Bersih 2.0 and its call for electoral reforms. As part of Malaysian civil society working towards justice, equality and the upholding of democratic principles, we stand by Bersih 2.0’s eight immediate demands as outlined in its manifesto, including free and fair access to media and a stop to dirty politics.
We are appalled by the arrests over the weekend and the use of police reports by elements within political parties and pressure groups to harass and intimidate Bersih 2.0. The use of race and religion to demonise Bersih 2.0 has escalated in the past few days and this has resulted in death threats against Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan and other members of the steering committee. We condemn the use of violence and threat of violence – instead, civil dialogue must prevail as a way to address differences of opinions.
Malaysians across different political beliefs and affiliations know that free and fair elections are fundamental to a working democracy. How this has been manipulated to suggest the opposite is mind-boggling and dangerous. Regardless of whether one supports or rejects Bersih 2.0’s position on electoral reforms, the right to assemble is an integral part of a living, functional democratic nation-state.
It behooves witnesses of injustice – be it due to bigotry or a corrupt political regime – to stand up as citizens to right what has gone wrong in their country. What Bersih 2.0 and its supporters are doing on 9th July is no more and no less than this: an expression of humanity’s fundamental desire for a just world.
We wish to remind those calling for arrests or violent attacks against Bersih 2.0 that the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights treaties ratified by the Malaysian government, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), further entrench Malaysia’s obligation to respect, protect and promote universal human rights. Furthermore, SUHAKAM has also called on the government in many of its reports to respect and uphold the citizens’ right to freedom of assembly.
Sisters in Islam
27 June 2011