Don’t roll out red carpet for Najib, Britain urged

Police action against citizens during Saturday’s rally has jeopardized the country’s reputation as a moderate democratic state, says international human rights community.

(Free Malaysia Today) – The consensus from international organisations is that the red carpet should not be rolled out for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when he begins his official visit to Britain today.

Najib begins his four-day official visit to the UK today, after which he is expected to be in Rome to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

Najib has said that street protests are not the Malaysian way but the International Human Rights community are angry with him and the police force for denying Malaysians their basic rights during Saturday’s Bersih rally.

Amnesty International (AI) had even gone a step further and called for heads of states to censor Najib .

“Prime Minister Najib’s government rode roughshod over thousands of Malaysians exercising their right to peaceful protest,” said Donna Guest, deputy Asia-Pacific director at Amnesty International in a statement.

“This violent repression by the Malaysian police flies in the face of international human rights standards and cannot be allowed to continue,” she  added.

“The British government shouldn’t reward this brutality by rolling out a red carpet for Malaysia’s prime minister… (British Prime Minister) David Cameron should tell prime minister Najib that these human rights violations against peaceful reform protests are unacceptable,” she said.

Amenesty International also called on the Vatican to press Najib to respect human rights when he visits the pope later this week.

AI also highlighted the many complaints of police hard-handedness during the rally. It said that the use of force by the police was “excessive, unnecessary and designed to instill fear”.

The Malaysian government however has denied this and said that it has video footages of its own to show otherwise.

The international human right watchdog also asked the Malaysian authorities to investigate claims that police failed to provide immediate assistance to Baharuddin Ahmad, the husband of PKR Setia Wangsa chief, who passed away in the vicinity of KLCC due to heart complications during the rally.

Undermining progress

The United Nations (UN) had also took Najib and the police to task for the handling of Saturday’s rally and events leading up to it.

Frank La Rue, UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that the Malaysian government “risks undermining democratic progress to the country” with the pre-emptive measures taken to derail the rally.

“Declaring Bersih illegal based on claims that it is trying to topple the government or it is a risk to national security and public order – in the absence of any credible evidence to substantiate such claims – is also an unnecessary restriction of civil and political rights,” La Rue added.