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Police raid opposition party headquarters, arrest protesters amid continuing unrest in Perak State

(CIJ, interim member)/IFEX) - The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) strongly protests continuing police arrests of protesters and a related raid at the headquarters of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) to eliminate critical expression about the political crisis in Perak state.

During the 23 May 2009 raid, police seized a computer, DVDs and pamphlets about the political crisis. Police had already arrested 11 people on 19 May, and another 16 two days later for holding candlelight vigils to protest the Barisan Nasional (BN) takeover of the state and its refusal to hold new elections. Elected DAP representative Janice Lee was arrested twice for being at both vigils. Ooi Leng Heng, a local councillor for Hulu Selangor who was arrested on 21 May, was brought along by police to the raid to show where the pamphlets were kept. Although police have released all who were arrested for protesting, the number of arrests since 5 May has climbed to 142 people, according to the human rights group Suaram.

The police actions show the government's complete disregard for public opinion in the ongoing political crisis in the state of Perak. Such high-handed tactics only serve to infuriate the public and the civil society campaigning for the cause of good governance.

CIJ warns the BN government that any further action aimed at silencing critics of the Perak situation will worsen its record in human rights and impede the practice of democracy in the country. The people's right to and wish for democratic processes must be respected.

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