By Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Every year on 10th December, the world celebrates Human Rights Day, a day where we reflect hard-fought battles to restore democracy, freedom and justice. Human Rights Day symbolizes past, present and future struggles to make universal human rights a reality for everyone– regardless of race, gender, disability or religion.
68 years later, it is still celebrated in various magnitudes; its significance and meaning varies from one nation to the next but for Malaysians, the struggle to uphold justice, freedom and democracy has become more crucial than ever; our struggle now is a battle between oppressive forces verses liberty.
2016 has been marred with a barrage of atrocities that violates civility, human rights and basic human decency. In times of absurd revelations, defending our constitutional rights have become more significant than ever. As Malaysians, we must protect these rights and appreciate the battles fought by those who resolved to see a better vision of the world materialize.
Prosecutions and oppressions of dissenting voices have spread beyond opposition politicians and activists to ordinary citizens and students. The Barisan Nasional government’s actions indicate a sickening crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in the country – a last act of defiance born out of desperation and anxiety.
The latest victims of the tyrannical forces of those who govern from the ivory towers in Putrajaya are the four Universiti Malaya students: Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, Muhammad Luqman Nul Haqim Zul Razali, Muhammad Luqman Hakim Mohd Fazli and Suhail Wan. All four students were recently suspended by Universiti Malaya for participating in the Tangkap MO1 rally at Dataran Merdeka, which was held earlier this year.
Other students have also been persecuted, charged and suspended in the past – Adam Adli, Fahmi Zainol, Asheeq Ali, Safwan Shamsuddin, Khairol Najib, Haw Yu Hong, Nur Syamimi Munirah, Khairul Anwar, and Adam Wilfrid; this list will continue to grow leading up to the next general elections.
The Barisan Nasional government lead by Prime Minister Najib Razak is on a feverish witch hunt to chastise and persecute Malaysians who dare criticize the wrong doings of the present regime. Commenting on 1MDB, questioning the slapdash leadership, demanding free and fair elections, drawing cartoons and student activism have all been met with iron fist punishment. The fascist like crack down on opposing voices is a stark contradiction of what is guaranteed to us as citizens of a democratic nation.
Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional federal government have the obligation to respect human rights and protect fundamental freedoms enshrined under both international law and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. They must also be made to understand that human rights is not just about freedom from violence, unlawful detention, discrimination; it is extended to freedom to express, criticize, associate, assemble, and practice one’s religion.
As Malaysians, we must demand that the ruling regime stop the mindless persecution of students and other dissenting voices, stop the senseless oppression and fear mongering tactics.
Prime Minister Najib Razak must be reminded that he is the Prime Minister of all Malaysians and not just the 48%, with that being said, he must reinstate democratic freedom, restore confidence in the system and provide sound solutions to alleviate us from this quagmire of socio-political despair.
As Malaysians, it is our utmost duty to see that our rights will not be trampled by those whose lust for power overrules logic and common human decency. We must also ensure that justice is extended to other victims of tyranny, protect those who are in danger and insist that investigations are to be carried out thoroughly and justly.
We, as Malaysians, have an obligation to see that democracy and liberty prevail even in our darkest hours.
Syerleena Abdul Rashid is DAP Wanita National Assistant Publicity Secretary.
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