by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
THE protest group, #LAWAN, has released their monitoring report on their July 31 protest in Kuala Lumpur which among others stated police intimidation, media’s lack of compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs), disinformation and online harassment pre- and post-protest.
About 300 police personnel were involved on the ground on that day. The protestors were also unable to head to their protest gathering at Dataran Merdeka as it was blocked with steel barricades and three patrol cars.
The police may be intimidating but Justice for Sisters co-founder Thilaga Sulathireh said they were at least not aggressive.
“There wasn’t any sort of serious harassment or intimidation, except for one at the beginning, where when the protesters were assembling and occupying one lane of the road, there was a group of cyclists who rode by and one of them just screamed.
“There was about it, I think, generally, they did not face any sort of harassment or intimidation, from the bystanders,” she said.
However, these intimidation tactics still heightened the sense of fear among the people.
The report is a joint initiative with the Malaysian civil society organisations namely Centre for Independent Journalism, KRYSS Network, the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights, Amnesty International Malaysia, Justice for Sisters, Freedom Film Network, Sisters in Islam, and Sinar Project.
#LAWAN also highlighted that media personnel covering the protest were having difficulties complying with the SOPs as they were forming huge crowds in taking photos.
KRYSS Network lawyer Serene Lim believed that media outlets need to find solutions to moderate the comments on their social media pages to prevent hate speech.
“The long-term solution is really to encourage social media platforms to have more efficient content removal strategies to prevent potential harassment or hate like people’s photos from going viral,” she said.
#LAWAN also recommended that Suhakam to hold an inquiry on the police actions in relation to its protest and having SOPs for media personnel on covering protests to prevent Covid-19 infections.