The Bersih steering committee has slammed Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed’s remark yesterday on the treatment of Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah as callous.
"We maintain that no person should ever be put through such a dehumanising and traumatic experience.
"It is extremely worrying that an individual of his standing sees nothing immoral about treating someone less than human," said the committee in a statement.
Nur Jazlan was reported saying Maria was given the standard treatment for detainees while under detention.
"She went through the police usual standard operating procedures (SOP) and this shows that she wasn’t given special treatment,” he was quoted by Free Malaysia Today (FMT) saying.
The Bersih chief was arrested on the eve of the massive Bersih 5 rally for electoral and democratic reforms held in Kuala Lumpur.
Bersih said Maria's arrest was the pinnacle of a series of obstacles to hamper their right to freedom of assembly, in which for the preceding seven week convoys "we had to fight for our right to assemble and associate freely while facing a string of harassment and intimidation" from the "violent red-shirts" and police restrictions.
Funding excuse 'dubious'
They said the attacks continue even after Maria's release, "serving as another distraction from the very real and pertinent issue of the government’s own dubious funding".
"Under the flimsy guise of foreign funding and conspiracy to topple the government, the authorities seem intent on stamping out civil society for good in a desperate bid to maintain their powers.
"Civil society is concerned with championing human rights. For the authorities to continue attacking us for that shows that they are antagonistic towards the need and the fight for universal human rights," said Bersih.
"On Human Rights Day 2016, Bersih demands the authorities stop the harassment and intimidation of NGOs.
"The government has a duty to protect the rights of its citizens, not punish them."
The electoral reform coalition said it will continue to focus on voter registration in the run-up to the 14th general election.
"We will not be cowed into fear or shut up by intimidation.
"We urge all Malaysians above 21 to register to vote and to encourage friends and family to do the same."- Mkini