Monday, 8 September 2014

UM student council calls for mass protest to show solidarity with Azmi Sharom

UM student council calls for mass protest 
to show solidarity with Azmi Sharom

Author / Source : Muzliza Mustafa / The Malaysian Insider
Fahmi (centre) says the 'hartal', or mass protest, will be held on Wednesday. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, September 8, 2014.
Below is the video clip of press conference held on September 8, 2014, taken by Kinitv.


The Universiti Malaya student council has called for "hartal", or a mass protest, on Wednesday to show solidarity with Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom who was charged with sedition last week.

President Fahmi Zainol said the strike would coincide with a Universiti Malaya Academic Staff Union rally and talks to be held on the same day.

"The strike is also to demand the repeal of the Sedition Act," said Fahmi.

The movement of Solidarity for Azmi Sharom coordinator Vince Tan said that the strike is the students right and everyone is welcome to join in. "This is orientation week and most of the classes have not started.

“Nevertheless we have declared that there are no classes between 1pm and 4.30pm to allow the students to join our cause and to listen to talks on freedom of speech by speakers lined up by the Academic Staff Union," he said.

"Hartal", a Gujerati word, is a mass protest often involving a total shutdown of workplaces, offices, shops, courts of law as a form of civil disobedience.

This will be only the second "hartal" in the country. Malaysia's first ever-recorded "hartal" was held in 1947 by the Putera-All-Malaya Council of Joint Action, a coalition of early independence fighters.

Tan, a UM final year law student, said: "This is a form of civil disobedience and if there is any time to show any disobedience it is now."

Azmi was charged on September 2, over an article titled "Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told" which was published in an online news portal on August 14.

He is said to have committed the offence at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters on August 15.

Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom was charged under the Sedition Act. – The Malaysian Insider pic, September 8, 2014. 
Azmi, who is Universiti Malaya academic staff association head, is the first academic to be hauled up by Putrajaya and charged under the colonial-era law which critics want repealed.

The 45-year-old faced a principle charge of uttering a seditious statement, an offence under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948.

He was also slapped with an alternative charge of publishing the seditious statement, an offence under Section 4(1)(c) of the same law.

Both offences carry a jail term of up to three years or maximum RM5,000 fine or both if found guilty.

Meanwhile lecturer Dr Lee Hwok Aun said the academic staff union is going to start its programme on Wednesday with a peaceful assembly on UM's campus at 1pm.

"The session will last an hour and after that we are going to hold a series of short lectures and Q&A sessions, to spend some time discussing interesting and important ideas," he said.

Lee added that the UM's management has been informed about the talks and the assembly.

The programme on Wednesday is to show solidarity with Azmi.

Lee said the union members were shocked and disappointed that the government, instead of engaging in dialogue and debate, had chosen to suppress and shackle an academic who was only fulfilling his role as a scholar and educator.

"We regard the charge against Azmi under the Sedition Act as a violation of the basic human right to freedom of expression to sow fear in society at large and to muzzle dissent," said Lee.

He said the union stand in solidarity with Azmi and would hold the peaceful assembly on Wednesday as an exercise of freedom of expression. – September 8, 2014.

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