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Protesters demand end to attacks on freedom of speech, release of activists

Democratic Student Front (FMD) - July 1, 2011

Democracy in South-East Asia is currently under attack. After the Thai Embassy in Jakarta was the target of a demonstration on June 27 because the Thai government arrested Red Shirt activist leaders, today it was the turn of the Malaysian Embassy on Jl. HR Rasuna Said in Kuningan, South Jakarta, to be the target of demonstrators.

The solidarity action was held following the arrest of some 30 Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) activists, who are accused by the government of violating Article 122 of Malaysia's anti-democratic penal code on waging war against the monarchy and attempting to revive communist ideology.

For the sake of solidarity and to prevent the wave of anti-democracy becoming an epidemic across other ASEAN countries, around 50 or so demonstrators descended upon the Malaysian Embassy demanding the release of the PSM activists.

The protesters came from several different groups including the Working People's Association-Organisational Saviours Committee (KPO-PRP), the People's Democratic Party-Political Committee of the Poor (KPRM-PRD), the Political Union of the Poor (PPRM), the Cross-Factory Labour Forum (FBLP), the Free Women National Network (JNPM), the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN, formerly LMND-PRD) and the NGO grouping Red Frame (Bingkai Merah).

In their demands the protesters called on the Malaysian status quo regime to stop its attacks and violations against freedom of speech and to release all of the PSM activists unconditionally. They also demanded an end to all forms of repression and intimidation against the Malaysian people in their struggle for democratic rights.

The action was also a call for and to express support with the PSM's Udahlah-Bersaralah (It is Enough, Time to Retire) national awareness campaign, which the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) has been conducting in the framework of building the people's awareness of the need for reform in the lead up to the coming Malaysian election and against the anti-democratic ruling United Malay National Organization-National Front (UMNO-BN).

"The arrest of the PSM activists shows that Malaysia is totally undemocratic. This is a solidarity action for all activists struggling for democracy in Malaysia", shouted action coordinator Sulthoni in a speech.

One of the speakers informed the protesters that the arrests were accompanied by harassment and intimidation, with the arrested PSM members not allowed family visits or clean drinking water and locked up in terrible conditions. "Our demands are clear. End the attacks and violations on freedom of expression. Release the PSM activists immediately and unconditionally", said Sulthoni.

Speaking sharply in a speech, KPO-PRP General Secretary Asep Salmin said that democratic values in Malaysia will only be realised if the UMNO and the BN resign from the throne. The current situation, according to Salmin is being felt by the Malaysian people because the UMNO and BN have ensconced in power for too long. It is this background that has made the regime in Indonesia's neighbouring country upset with opposition, particularly the PSM. "We pledge to continue actions such as this until the PSM activists are released", shouted Salmin at the end of his speech.

Taking turns, protesters gave speeches in front of the Malaysian Embassy, the essence of which were expressing their solidarity with the PSM activists and other members of the people's movement who have been arrested and charged under Malaysia's catchall anti-democratic articles. The protest disbanded at 11.30am.

[Translated by James Balowski.]