Women’s March: The government must provide protection, not persecution

The Malaysian government’s responses towards the International Women’s Day march (March 9 2019) have been heavy-handed and grossly misplaced. By calling the march “haram” and claiming that the LGBT people are abusing democracy, the government seems to be reinforcing the harmful public rhetoric and prejudices towards women, marginalised people and LGBT people. This sanctions further victimisation, discrimination and violence against the organisers and attendees of the march. In addition, the police also announced that 7 individuals linked to the march will be called in for questioning under the Peaceful Assembly Act and the Sedition Act. Instead of investigating the organisers and speakers of the march, a caring and democratic government should call them in for a dialogue and provide adequate protection and support to address the reprisals.

The women’s march on Saturday represented diversity, unity, strength and clarity in the articulation of our collective vision for a society free from patriarchy, discrimination and violence. Marginalised women participated in the march precisely because they wish to be heard and to participate in building our democracy. They spoke with passion and clarity about their truth and lived realities. Targeting them therefore goes against the state’s obligation to protect the marginalised and eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women. The government’s response to target the organizers and  marginalised women for exercising their right to assembly and expression in the month of International Women’s Day is not only ironic but also oppressive and regressive. The current government had in fact pledged to repeal Sedition Act and discriminatory provisions under the Peaceful Assembly Act.

We remind the Government that during Malaysia’s CEDAW review in 2018, the CEDAW committee had expressed concern over the situation of women human rights defenders, in particular those advocating for Muslim women’s rights, the rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, as well as for democratic reforms.

We reiterate the CEDAW committee’s recommendation to “ensure that women human rights defenders can freely undertake their important work without fear or threat of arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation, including the issuance of fatwas by religious institutions, by fully guaranteeing their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.”

Indeed the threats against the marchers have resulted in adverse impacts on many women who participated in the march. As a result of exercising their right to expression and assembly, many of the women who marched have found their privacy, security and safety threatened. The online backlash had also resulted in a significant number of people harassed by parents, friends, schoolmates, colleagues and employers for attending the women’s march, since the media has deliberately mischaracterised it as an ‘LGBT march’. At least 4 persons are questioned by employers on their presence at the march, causing fear over job security and bullying.

The government must not take the side of the bullies. Denying a group of marginalised groups their right to participate in democracy is truly an abuse of democracy. In fact, democracy requires the participation of everyone, especially minorities and the marginalised. The current administration was built upon that very foundation of rule of law and justice, with promises made in its manifesto to ensure that women are prioritised and the marginalised are included. Many diverse persons, including LGBT people, voted, volunteered as PACAs, and committed to the change in the ruling government. And last Saturday, we marched to hold the new government accountable in keeping its promises.

We call for the government to end all investigations against the human rights defenders, and take a rights based response in addressing this. The priority must go to addressing the reprisals, discrimination, and not perpetuate victimisation of human rights defenders and people from marginalised communities.

The government, particularly the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Communications & Multimedia  must stand on the side of all women. They must immediately call for an end to the threats and violence faced by the organisers and participants online and offline. Additionally, the media must stop instigating fear and hatred towards a marginalised community in the New Malaysia.

The government has a duty to remind the public to be calm and proportionate in their responses, and create spaces for dialogues. The government needs to defend the women’s march as people’s active participation in democracy and defend democracy as a space for all.

Endorsed by:

  1. Justice for Sisters
  2. Malaysia Design Archive
  3. Queer Lapis
  4. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  5. Pelangi Campaign
  6. In Between Cultura
  7. Diversity Malaysia
  8. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
  9. People Like Us, Hang Out! (PLUHO)
  10. Tenaganita
  11. Transmen of Malaysia (TOM)
  12. Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
  13. Women Center for Change (WCC)
  14. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  15. Seksualiti Merdeka
  16. SAWO (Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group)
  17. KRYSS
  18. CIJ Malaysia
  19. BENTARAKATA
  20. Society for Equality, Respect, and Trust for all (SERATA)
  21. BIKAR ALAM
  22. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  23. Bersih Sabah
  24. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA)
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Siasat Keganasan Terhadap Peserta Perarakan Hari Wanita dan Hentikan Segala Bentuk Keganasan Berunsur anti-LGBT, identiti gender dan ekspresi gender

Justice for Sisters mengutuk sekeras-kerasnya serangan dan gangguan yang dilakukan oleh beberapa individu terhadap beberapa sukarelawan Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) selepas Women’s March Malaysia atau Perarakan Wanita Malaysia pada 10 Mac 2018 kerana dianggap sebagai penyokong LGBT. Kejadian tersebut berlaku di hadapan Balai Polis Dang Wangi.

Serangan ini merupakan satu lagi petanda bahawa trend perilaku intimidasi, diskriminasi serta keganasan terhadap atau atas andaian orientasi seksual, identiti gender, penglibatan dengan LGBT, liberalisme dan hak asasi manusia di Malaysia kian menular. Insiden-insiden juga jelas menunjukkan impunity (kekebalan) atau perlindungan yang dinikmati individu dan kumpulan anti-LGBT selain sikap tidak peduli terhadap kesan tindakan keganasan mereka.

Hal ini jelas dalam video terbitan kumpulan itu sendiri yang mereka terbitkan di media sosial. Jelas kelihatan kumpulan tersebut berasa tindakan intimidasi serta serangan secara lisan dan fizikal berdasarkan andaian tentang penglibatan orang awam dengan golongan LGBT, liberalisme dan idea lain adalah tindakan wajar dan akan mendapat perlindungan pihak berkuasa.

Penting untuk ditekankan, kejadian tempoh hari berlatarbelakangkan suasana di mana berlaku peningkatan aktiviti, ungkapan, tindakan mengkambinghitam, menakut-nakutkan serta retorik anti- LGBT yang disokong oleh kerajaan. Selain itu, hak asasi manusia, feminisme, dan semua yang dianggap sebagai ‘liberal dan pluralistik’ juga ditentang hebat. Kejadian baru-baru ini menunjukkan kumpulan pelaku menyahut pandangan kerajaan berkenaan liberalisme, pluralisme serta LGBT, dan bertindak menggunakan keganasan lantas mengancam keselamatan awam.

Hakikat bahawa kumpulan pelaku tersebut berani menyerang orang awam di hadapan sebuah balai polis sambil merakam serangan mereka dan kemudian menerbit video tersebut di media sosial satu petanda serius impunity, kebebasan dan keyakinan yang dirasai golongan ini dalam tindakan anti-LGBT, homofobia, transfobia, diskriminasi, intimidasi dan keganasan di Malaysia.

Sememangnya, terdapat peningkatan kumpulan anti-LGBT di Malaysia. Pada tahun 2012 dan 2013, sekumpulan samseng di Pahang, menyerang lebih 13 wanita transgender atau mak nyah dengan rantai besi, topi keledar dan batang besi dalam sebuah siri jenayah kebencian yang mengakibatkan kecederaan serius kepada wanita-wanita transgender berkenaan. Berdasarkan laporan media dan laporan Human Rights Watch “I am scared to be a woman,”seorang wanita telah ‘dipukul sehingga koma’ dan ada yang menerima 18 hingga 78 jahitan akibat serangan tersebut. Pada tahun 2018, Skuad Badar Sungai Petani muncul di platform media sosial, mengeluarkan ancaman untuk menangkap mak nyah dan mencukur kepala mereka. Kami juga mendapat maklumat bahawa kumpulan ini telah menggangu, menangkap dan menyerang wanita transgender di komuniti tersebut. Tambah lagi, wanita transgender yang ditangkap dicukurkan kepala mereka.

Kesemua ini adalah bentuk intimidasi dan ugutan serius yang mewujudkan rasa ketakutan dan kebimbangan terutamanya dalam kalangan golongan terpinggir.

Di samping itu, Justice for Sisters dan organisasi lain di Malaysia juga telah mendokumentasi sekurang-kurangnya 12 kes pecah masuk dan kemusnahan harta benda oleh pengganas dan pelaku yang tidak dikenalpasti di kawasan kediaman mangsa; serangan fizikal, penghinaan dan ugutan penyeksaan oleh kumpulan ‘vigilante’ yang seringkali menggunakan nama ‘Pengawal Keamanan’ atau kumpulan “Pengawal Rukun Tetangga” pada tahun 2017 dan 2018.

Pada tahun 2017 dan 2018 berlaku pelbagai gangguan terhadap sekutu LGBTIQ dan pembela hak asasi manusia yang menyokong golongan LGBT secara terbuka. Hal ini termasuklah aduan kepada agensi kerajaan atas tindakan like paparan pro-LGBT di laman media sosial, dituduh dan didakwa menghalang tugas pihak berkuasa semasa serbuan dijalankan; diejek dengan panggilan hinaan; ancaman fizikal dan seksual, dan lain-lain.

Kami menggesa orang ramai menolak keganasan terhadap peserta Women’s March Malaysia dan terus belajar dan mendidik antara satu sama lain mengenai gender, seksualiti dan kepelbagaian dalam masyarakat majmuk Malaysia. Dalam mendukung semangat Perarakan Wanita di Malaysia tempoh hari, kita mesti terus memperkasa dan menerima golongan terpinggir dalam masyarakat sebagai lambang kepelbagaian dan perpaduan.

Kami menggesa pihak polis, Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) dan Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM) untuk menyiasat serangan ini dengan segera supaya keganasan seperti ini tidak dinormalisasikan di Malaysia. Ia adalah pencabulan hak asasi manusia yang serius, termasuk hak untuk hidup, hak kebebasan dan hak keamanan. Trend peningkatan keganasan ini mesti ditangani dengan rundingan dan kerjasama daripada kumpulan hak asasi manusia LGBT.

Kami juga menggesa UMNO untuk menyiasat perkara ini memandangkan hubungan kumpulan pelaku dengan parti politik tersebut. Menjelang pilihan raya akan datang, kami menggesa parti politik henti mempergunakan isu dan golongan LGBT untuk memenangi undi. Golongan LGBT juga adalah pengundi, dan kami menggesa parti-parti politik untuk menumpukan perhatian terhadap diskriminasi, keganasan, peminggiran yang dihadapi oleh rakyat, dan mencadangkan penyelesaian yang bermakna untuk menangani isu-isu mereka.

Kami menggesa agar kerajaan dengan segera menghentikan semua bentuk kegiatan anti-LGBT, termasuklah retorik dan ucapan, kerana kita sudah menyaksikan kesan negatif dan memudaratkan kepada bukan sahaja terhadap individu LGBT malah semua yang disyaki orientasi seksual, identiti gender, eskpresi gender, ciri-ciri seks dan penglibatan mereka dengan individu atau isu LGBTIQ.

Aktiviti anti-LGBT yang disokong atau dibiayai oleh kerajaan harus dihentikan serta merta atas implikasi negatif dan kemudaratan yang teruk. Hal ini juga melanggar hak perlembagaan kami untuk hidup bebas daripada keganasan dan bermaruah.

HARI WANITA SEDUNIA 2018 #WanitaBangkit#WomensMarchMY (4)