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Malaysian ‘clean’ activists threatened with gang-rape, detained

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Summary of story from The Guardian, July 8, 2001

Malaysia is bracing itself for an Arab spring-style stand-off on Saturday, when activists angry at “dirty politics” are expected to rally in Kuala Lumpur – despite draconian government efforts to nip the movement in the bud.

Tensions mounted after a group of 62 non-governmental organisations, known locally as Bersih 2.0, proposed a peaceful protest, dubbed the “Walk for Democracy”, against alleged vote-rigging and other electoral abuses in a recent state election.

But last week the government declared Bersih – which means “clean” in Malay – illegal, and has warned that anyone wearing the yellow colours of protest will be detained.

It has already arrested more than 200 supporters and organisers on charges ranging from the promotion of “illegal assembly” to “waging war against the king”, some of whom are being held for an indefinite period without trial.

Despite government accusations that they are actively threatening national security, Bersih’s leaders have been adamant that they are pushing solely for electoral changes.

“We are calling for a government through free and fair elections, not street demonstrations” like in Egypt or Libya, said Bersih’s chairwoman, Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Bersih organisers say they have received death, bomb and gang-rape threats in recent weeks, which they claim police have not investigated.

“It has been challenging personally,” Ambiga Sreenevasan said.

Nonetheless, Bersih “understand our responsibility in holding the line on behalf of all of you who want nothing more than a clean electoral system and a better Malaysia.”

Bersih supporters in other parts of the world are expected to hold similar rallies on Saturday in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, the US, Canada and the UK.

  1. So far, no concrete action from UN Human Right Council whc M’sia has a seat & a member of except for a protest letter & UNHRC Facebook wall posting. UN, Nato, US, UK, Aust, France and other countries friends with M’sia only take action when severe human rights violation is commited, lives lost, women-children raped & when any action is taken, country & ppl are already at civil war.

    For once, please move in before anythg happends. Summon M’sian envoy to UN & your countries – send them back for two weeks to show your seriousness. Send observors, convene immediate UNHRC meeting & kick M’sia out for a year.

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