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Saturday, 12 September 2015

We’ll keep our eyes on ‘red shirt’ rally, UN Human Rights Office says BY IDA LIM

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office said today that it would monitor the mass gathering of Malays planned for September 16 in Malaysia’s national capital that has been dubbed the “red shirt” rally.
The UN Human Rights Office confirmed to Malay Mail Online that it would be following the proposed September 16 rally remotely from their regional office for South-east Asia based in Bangkok, Thailand.
“We will be particularly observing if the fundamental rights to right to peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression are respected.
“In addition, we will also keep an eye on the response by law enforcement authorities at the rally and the conduct of the organizers,” Matilda Bogner, the regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office’s South-East Asia office told Malay Mail Online in an email.
Bogner confirmed that the UN Human Rights Office has not sent any communication regarding the September 16 rally to the Malaysian government at this point in time.
But she said that the UN Human Rights Office’s letter to Putrajaya on August 28 had already clearly outlined its position on the need to respect the right to peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression.
The August 28 letter was sent ahead of the next day’s Bersih 4 rally for institutional reforms by Malaysians clad in yellow shirts — an event deemed by the government to be an “illegal” gathering.
The UN Human Rights Office, otherwise known as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR), had in the August 28 letter urged Putrajaya to give the greenlight for the Bersih 4 rally.
“OHCHR urged the Government to allow the rally to proceed in line with the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she said when speaking of the letter’s contents.
“It also urged the Government to provide adequate protection to the protesters as well as to journalists and those monitoring the protest. 
“The OHCHR also urged the government to ensure that the security forces involved, including the police who have statutory powers to manage the protest, are given clear instructions not to employ force except as a last resort and only in full accordance with international law,” she added when elaborating on the letter.
The Malaysian government did not issue a reply to the August 28 letter, Bogner said, confirming that the UN Human Rights Office did not issue any further communication after the end of the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally.
Bogner said both the UN Human Rights Office and UN special rapporteurs or experts had followed the Bersih 4 rally closely.
“The OHCHR followed the rally closely, and the events surrounding the gathering. OHCHR was pleased to see the rally conclude peacefully,” she told Malay Mail Online.
Next Wednesday, a rally alternatively called Himpunan Maruah Melayu and Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu, will be held in the city centre to counter the purported Chinese domination of the Bersih 4 rally.
Police confirmed today receiving a notice from the September 16 rally organiser, a little-known Malay martial arts organisation called Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan Malaysia (Pesaka) that is led by Senator Tan Sri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam.
Sungai Besar Umno division chief Datuk Jamal Md Yunos who has been speaking out on the rally on behalf of the organiser, has said that over 750 Malay groups were invited to join the rally on Malaysia Day and claimed that over 30,000 individuals have pledged to show up.
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