LFL Press Statement
Taman Medan church protesters should not be investigated under the Sedition Act
21 April 2015
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the recent protest in Taman Medan against a church for displaying a cross on its outer premises. The protest, led by Umno members including the IGP’s brother Abdullah Abu Bakar is a blatant act of bullying and intimidation intended to inflame the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.
We urge all parties to act with caution and not fall for such underhanded and dangerous tactics to divide Muslims and non-Muslims by sowing distrust and fomenting a siege mentality.
We wish to remind the authorities that Malaysia is a country governed by the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land where the rights of the minority is equally protected and not subservient to the rights of the majority, including their freedom of religion and right to manage their own religious affairs.
We uphold the rights of all citizens to protest peacefully including the rights of the protesters, to speak and assemble freely without the hazards of oppressive laws like the Sedition Act and the Peaceful Assembly Act.
While we abhor the protesters’ provocative, intimidating and bullying behaviour, we urge caution in turning every religiously tinged protest into a criminal matter. A better way to regulate such misbehaviour is through society itself via dialogue, public criticism and pressure.
This however does not preclude a criminal investigation should the protesters commit a clear criminal offence, for example, had they threatened to harm the church or its members.
As such we do not support the calls for the protesters to be charged under the Sedition Act as there are sufficient provisions in the Penal Code to deal with such mischief, offences that are more in line with the demands of democracy and fundamental rights instead of the outdated Sedition Act.
We maintain that a moratorium should be imposed on all further sedition investigation and prosecution and the Sedition Act should be abolished. All prosecution under the Sedition Act should similarly be dropped.
Lawyers for Liberty
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