"Respect for human rights and human dignity is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."
Today is International Human Rights Day but what a sad day it is for human rights in this country.
Early yesterday morning, a group of Malaysians marched peacefully to mark this day - from Sogo at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to the Malaysian Bar Council building.
It was peaceful. No FRU personnel was present. Fewer than 100 people.
Some 500 policemen and women who were there to keep the peace.
In fact, these uniformed men and women of the law seemed to be accompanying the marchers, to be walking alongside them.
A minor incident and, wham! Several people were arrested.
At the end of the day, nine people, including four lawyers were arrested for holding an illegal march and another for allegedly obstructing Kuala Lumpur City Hall officials from performing their duties.
(I'm impressed that City Hall officials were working on a Sunday!)
The lawyers are R Sivarasa, Latheefa Koya, N Surendran and Amir Hamzah. Edmund Bon was arrested for refusing to allow city hall officials to take down posters at the bar council building.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in response to this, said that no one, including lawyers, is above the law and all involved in illegal activities will face consequences.
Let me say that Sunday's walk was as peaceful as could be. The marchers walked along the sidewalks. Besides, it was really a small group.
If the early morning traffic was disrupted, it was because of the police cars that were stationed at several locations.
Let me remind everyone that it was a walk to mark the United Nations-sanctioned and endorsed (under the Universal Declarationof Human Rights) Human Rights Day.
And I thought our freedom to assemble is enshrined in our most sacrosant federal constitution.
Why on earth would anyone want to stop people from celebrating Human Rights day? Even if it is deemed illegal, the authorities should have made that an exception. No need to give an official go-ahead, but let the marchers through.
If the police had acted on orders from "higher-up" to put a stop to the walk as the marchers were peacefully and orderly making their way, then, it is a real pity.
We have learnt that not everything is in black and white, that we can make certain considerations.
The authorities have proven that they can make exceptions to the rule.
But, obviously not on this one.
See Rocky's Bru and Eli's.