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Police prevent opposition leader from concluding speech

(CIJ/IFEX) - The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is concerned that police are impeding freedom of speech and freedom of association by preventing public talks given by the Pakatan opposition alliance leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

Local media reported that, on 24 January 2010, Anwar Ibrahim was giving a speech to five hundred people in the parking lot of a public housing area in the capital city when several police officers went up to the stage and interrupted him. A video of the incident, posted on YouTube, showed police taking Anwar Ibrahim away and switching off the microphone. The officers, however, did not arrest the politician. At the time of the incident, Anwar Ibrahim was speaking about his ongoing trial for sodomy and was criticising the federal government.

According to CIJ, the incident exposes the police's clear disregard for their responsibility under the Malaysian Constitution to uphold the right to freedom of speech. The police chief who stopped Anwar Ibrahim was reported to have justified his actions on the grounds that the speech was "political."

CIJ calls on the police to uphold laws that guarantee freedom of speech and assembly.

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