Police Are Calling Up Women's March 2023 Participants Over Alleged Illegal Assembly

The organisers have since criticised the police for their heavy-handed response towards the peaceful protest.

Cover image via Miera Zulyana/Malay Mail & SAYS

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Police have opened an investigation paper against a rally that was held in front of SOGO Kuala Lumpur and Dataran Merdeka on Sunday, 12 March

According to Bernama, Dang Wangi district police chief Noor Dellhan Yahaya said the march involved 150 people, including human rights activists, university students, and members of political parties.

Noor Dellhan said the rally, which has been identified as the Women's March Malaysia 2023 organised in celebration of International Women's Day, did not follow the provisions of the law.

Noor Dellhan said the police are still in the process of identifying all the individuals involved and would call them to record their statements

He said investigations would be carried out under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1995.

"Based on police observation, the participants were found to have gathered and marched while holding placards," he said in a statement yesterday.

He mentioned placards that read: 'Imagine If Men Were As Disgusted With Rape As With Periods', 'Child, Not Bride', 'Trans Women Are Women', and 'Police Your Behaviour, Not My Body'.

"The investigation paper will be completed and referred to the deputy public prosecutor for further instruction," he added, advising the public not to participate in other illegal assemblies.

Image via SAYS

The organisers of the Women's March have since criticised the police for their heavy-handed response towards the peaceful protest

In a press release today, 13 March, Women's March MY said they strongly condemn the action taken by the police against the participants, speakers, organisers, and observers of the march.

"The press statement issued by the police, which was followed by Notice 111 sent out to seven participants, speakers, and organisers in the middle of the night, marks a troubling precedent against democratic action under the newly-elected unity government.

"We recall and remind this current government of its long history of democratic actions and expressions, and the use of public assembly and protests over the last several decades prior to its coming to power," they said.

The group said they were also disheartened and disappointed at being penalised for exercising their democratic rights

"Article 10 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution clearly states that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression, all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms," said the group.

They added that Malaysia has an obligation as a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to ensure the full protection of human rights for women and girls, including transgender people and sexual minorities.

The organisers asked the police to desist investigating and charging individuals for assembling peacefully and to allocate priority in tackling other issues such as child marriage, gender-based violence, and protecting groups facing marginalisation.

The last Women's March in Kuala Lumpur was held in 2020:

The fight for women's rights in Malaysia is far from over:

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