UN: Malaysia crackdown excessive
Geneva - The UN human rights office expressed disappointment on Tuesday at Malaysia's crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, saying that police appeared to have used excessive force.
Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon and arrested more than 1 600 people to end a rally to demand electoral changes on Saturday, drawing intense criticism from human rights groups.
"We are very concerned by the recent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators by the government in Malaysia," said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The office is "particularly disappointed to see the apparent use of excessive force by the police against so many peaceful demonstrators in an established democracy like Malaysia", he added.
While police said they have released the detained protestors, the UN rights office "remain concerned about retaliation against these individuals" and others who were arrested in the run up to Saturday's rally.
"We are alarmed at the targeting of individuals for championing the rights of Malaysian citizens to express their opinions and to peacefully assemble," said Colville.
Bersih 2.0, a coalition of non-governmental groups, had organised the rally demanding electoral reforms such as the introduction of indelible ink to prevent people casting multiple votes and equal access for all political parties to the mainstream media.