21 February 2006
To:Professor Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Pejabat Naib Canselor
Dato' Profesor Madya Jamaluddin Mohaiadin
Timbalan Naib Canselor
Bahagian Hal Ehwal dan Pembangunan Pelajar
Re: Stop Threatening Student Rights – Retract Charges against 5 USM Students
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) Penang Branch has come to learn that five USM students are charged by the Disciplinary Board of the University. These students are alleged of distributing leaflets and issuing statement to the press in September 2005 without permission of the University. The content of the leaflets and press statement were exposing irregularities of the campus election which took place in September 2005.
We have come to understand that these 5 students have been summoned by Division of Student Affairs and Development of USM to attend a hearing scheduled on 27 February 2006.
SUARAM Penang is deeply concerned at the continued intolerant attitude shown by the University Authorities, by suppressing students to exercise their democratic rights to express their concerns on issues related to society and campus without fear and discrimination. Time and again Universities and University Colleges Act has been selectively used to stir culture of fear among the student community.
Fear Tactics such as threatening students by disciplinary charges for merely exposing wrongdoings in campus, are authoritarian measures to erode fundamental liberties, and should no longer be accommodated in a democratic society.
It is simply unjust, undemocratic and unreasonable to forbid students to participate in the process of shaping better society by expressing their concern through democratic means. If USM looks forward to become a leading higher learning institution internationally, it should be compelled to international human rights standards that enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the fundamental freedom of every student.The University should has probed the allegations of irregularities during last campus election, which made by the students, rather than taking action against the whistle-blowers. We cannot expect a student can become a responsible citizen when there is a culture of fear and silence entrenched deeply in higher learning institutions like USM.
As such SUARAM strongly urges for the University authorities to drop all charges against the five students, and allow them to complete their studies and continue participating in social activities free of fear and discrimination.
SUARAM Penang also urges the USM authority to stop harassing its students and intimidating them against exercising their fundamental liberties by using the repressive UUCA and other similar regulations. Instead, the university authorities should fulfill their obligations and nurture the creation of an open, constructive and challenging intellectual environment where students are encouraged to involve themselves in the social and political life of our nation, without fear or favour.
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