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Panel Accuses Malaysia of Rights Violations - 2001-08-20

In Malaysia, a government-backed commission has accused police of violating human rights in dispersing an opposition demonstration last year. Government officials have not yet commented on the report.

The top-level Human Rights Commission Monday said there were several violations of human rights during the large antigovernment protest on a highway near Kuala Lumpur, last November. It accuses police with mistreating those detained during the protest.

In the 66-page report, the commission charged Malaysian police with responsibility for the violations, but did not identify individual police officers. The report accuses police of using excessive force in dispersing the protest and of cruel and inhumane treatment of the more than 100 people who were arrested.

The same commission issued a report earlier this month that urged police to allow peaceful assemblies and not to use roadblocks to prevent mass gatherings. It also called for a review of crowd control methods and of the treatment of detainees.

The Malaysian Government dismissed the commission's earlier report.

Opposition leaders have accused police of unfairly breaking up antigovernment rallies which began three years ago after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad dismissed then-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The dismissed leader was later sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption and sex offenses, charges he claims were made up to remove him from politics.

Last month, the Malaysian Government banned all open-air rallies.