Participants of the Global Knowledge 3 (GK3) Forum called for respect and protection of human rights in Malaysia, denouncing the violence exhibited by the police against activists who marched for free and fair elections in early November last year.

Around 200 representatives of civil society groups, private companies, governments, and international institutions participating in the Global Knowledge 3 (GK3) Forum in Kuala Lumpur sent an open letter to Malaysia's Prime Minister on December 12, 2007, calling for the respect and protection of human rights in the country.

The call was prompted by police violence at the protest march calling for free and fair elections led by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) on November 10. Police used chemical-laced water and tear gas to disrupt the orderly and peaceful protesters and beat several retreating demonstrators. Some needed medical attention afterwards. At the time, the marchers were proceeding to the Royal Palace to deliver a memorandum to Malaysia’s king requesting his support for electoral reforms.

Under Malaysia’s constitution as well as international human rights law, Malaysians have the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly. These universal human rights are guaranteed under Article 10 of Malaysia's Federal Constitution and are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Malaysia is a signatory.

Being the host of the GK3 Forum, Malaysia has pledged its commitment to knowledge sharing, to an open exchange of information and to building a just and fair society. However, these can only be achieved in a society that respects fundamental rights. 

Participants of the GK3 Forum are now urging the Malaysian government to:
(1) uphold its responsibility to its constitution and grant the right to freedom of assembly and expression to all;
(2) implement the suggestions made by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission Suhakam;
(3) along with the police, allow freedom of assembly without favour, to all;
(4) establish an independent commission to investigate allegations of police brutality; and
(5) order the police to drop charges against those expressing their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and expression.

Related article:
Malaysia: Government media ignores fair election protest, activists resort to alternative means” in we! November 2007, No. 2

Sources:
“Malaysia: Investigate Use of Force Against Peaceful Rally” from Human Rights Watch, posted on November 15, 2007, <http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/11/15/malays17345.htm>.  
“Statement of GK3 participants: Open letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia” from The Association for Progressive Communications, posted on December 12, 2007, <http://www.apc.org/english/news/index.shtml?x=5361763>.

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