KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian police detained 14 more people and raided the offices of organizers canvassing support ahead of a July 9 mass rally for electoral reform, embattled activists said Wednesday, bringing the number of people held since activists and opposition parties began whipping up support last week for the demonstration to 96.
“We condemn the 96 arrests as it is a violation of the freedom of expression and the right to assemble, which is guaranteed under the constitution and the human rights declaration,” Nalini Elunalai, coordinator for local rights group SUARAM, told AFP.
“It is a weak government that resorts to fear and repression to prevent people from assembling,” she added.
State police officials confirmed the arrests in northern Perak state Wednesday but declined further comment.
The activists are supporting Bersih, a coalition of opposition parties and charities aiming to reform the electoral process in Malaysia. Bersih derives from a Malay word meaning “clean.”
A Bersih rally in July 2007 drew 30,000 people – making it the biggest in a decade. It was stopped by police with water cannon and tear gas.
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