Statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2021

Statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2021

10 December 2021

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are the heart of human rights

Today, on 10 December 2021, the world commemorates International Human Rights Day. International Human Rights Day marks the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to “Equality” and article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) joins the world in commemorating this day. We are incredibly concerned that we are celebrating International Human Rights Day in a period where socio-economic and political rights continue to deteriorate. People remain excluded from nation-building and socio-economic matters. Fundamental economic and social rights like social protection, water, health, education, food, shelter are still far from reality for the most marginalised communities.

If there is one crucial thing that the COVID 19 pandemic has taught us, it is that discrimination in policies and governance has caused the marginalised to suffer, due to rooted injustice and inequalities. The principles of equality and non-discrimination are the heart of human rights, and it must be the purpose of any government to make sure that every human is protected. We still witness how LGBT communities are constantly being excluded and discriminated against because of their gender, identity or sexuality. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how minorities, migrants, and refugees bear the brunt of exhausted healthcare systems, face increased stigma, and become hate speech and discrimination targets.

PSM remains concerned that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens have continued to suffer marginalisation and various forms of repression and aggression in the country. Human rights violations such as deaths in custody, torture, assault, unlawful arrests and harassment against media, human rights defenders and opposition party activists have increased throughout the year. The government and its affiliated law enforcement institutions have been identified as the foremost perpetrators of these violations.

PSM also regrets that the restrictions of fundamental freedoms, which were implemented supposedly to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, have further exacerbated violations and related impunity by the government. According to SUARAM, the suppression of the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association has increased in 2021. In 2021, the government aggressively applied the Sedition Act and Communication and the Multimedia Act (CMA) against government critics, ordinary citizens and human rights defenders.

On 14 October 2021, the UN General Assembly elected Malaysia to join the Human Rights Council for 2022 to 2024. The government made many promises in its pledge to win the seat. The Malaysian government must demonstrate its commitment to human rights as a prospective member of the UN Human Rights Council and strengthen human rights protections in Malaysia.

In light of this sad state of affairs, we also take this opportunity to call for tolerance and acceptance, a culture of respect for one another and appreciation of diversity and inclusion. We believe a tolerant society is a foundational basis for the full enjoyment of the rights established by the Declaration and guaranteed by the Constitution of Malaysia. The government should embrace the principles and spirit of the Declaration and fully respect, protect, and fulfill all its citizens’ human rights and end any form of discrimination and inequality.

Nalini E
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)