STOP the investigation against participants of the Lawan protest yesterday and focus on developing and strengthening COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOP), said Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
“We congratulate all those involved in ensuring that the right to peaceful assembly was exercised in a responsible way by all parties.
“Suhakam reiterates call for all parties to work together and fulfill the rights for peaceful assembly, whilst adhering to the public health SOPs in managing the COVID-19,” it said, in a statement.
Yesterday, nearly 1,000 people joined the Lawan protest held near Stadium Merdeka, with many clad in black attire calling for Prime Minister Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin’s resignation for his failure to contain COVID-19.
Many have criticised the heavy-handed response by the police before the protest was launched, with youth activist Sarah Irdina Mohammad Ariff being arrested under the Sedition Act 1948 and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
Malaysiakini reported her as alleging that the police had intimidated her family and herself, while being detained for almost a day.
Suhakam said that it had sent an observation team of seven people, led by commissioners Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Dr Salida Suhaila, to monitor the event yesterday.
From its findings, Suhakam stated that the assembly was a peaceful one, without any untoward incident happening.
“We were encouraged by the organiser and participants’ effort to comply with the SOP in place. We believe that this measure could be further improved in the future.
“The police were also seen facilitating the assembly by negotiating with the organisers to facilitate the assembly, despite the last-minute change to disallow participants to gather at Dataran Merdeka as planned,” it added.
Despite Suhakam’s call, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said that his team has launched investigation on Lawan protest’s organisers and participants under Act 342 and Regulation 17 (1) of the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Regulations (PPPDPB) (Measures in Local Areas of Infection (National Rehabilitation Plan) 2021 and other relevant legislation.
He added that the police have also identified 29 individuals from various video footage, who will be called for questioning later on.
“The police have issued multiple warnings not to hold an assembly under the SOP due to the pandemic situation.
“However, the organisers were defiant conducted themselves in an irresponsible manner during a public health crisis, breaching COVID-19 SOPs in their actions,” Acryl Sani remarked. – Aug 1, 2021.