The arrests of scores of protesters as well as two human rights lawyers in separate incidents yesterday and today in Malaysia are the latest troubling signs of an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly, Amnesty International said today.
“These latest in a string of recent arrests point to a clear and worrying trend and reveal the very grim reality of the Malaysian authorities’ stance on upholding basic freedoms,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher.
“The space for dissent and debate in Malaysia is rapidly shrinking, under the guise of punishing ‘sedition’ or maintaining public order.”
Mass detentions of protesters
Today (23 March) at least 79 protesters were arrested at a sit-in protest outside the Customs Department in the Petaling Jaya area of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. Around 40 riot police were sent to control the public action, and a “scuffle” was reported. Those arrested were among around 100 people protesting against a new Goods and Services Tax to be implemented in the coming weeks.