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The Malaysian authorities must immediately take steps to protect journalists at the respected news site Malaysiakini against intimidation and threats from vigilantes, Amnesty International said today.

The so-called “Red Shirts” movement, has vowed to “tear down” the offices of Malaysiakini on Saturday and continues to mount aggressive demonstrations outside them.

“Everyone has a right to peaceful protest, but what the red-shirts are threatening is violence. They have a right to freedom of expression but they cannot use threat and violence to deny journalists that same right,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

“The threats against Malaysiakini are the latest instance of the right to freedom of expression coming under attack in the country. The authorities have a human rights obligation  to protect journalists. They must be allowed to work freely and without fear of violent attacks.”

In October the “Red Shirts” assaulted three journalists from Malaysiakini and the Star covering a convoy organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) as well as members of the convoy.

Background

The so-called red-shirts, a pro-Malay group, says that it is demanding an explanation for a grant Malaysiakini received from the Open Society Foundations, a charitable organization founded by the philanthropist George Soros.

At a demonstration of around 100 people on 3 November, the group, led by Jamal Mohammed Yunos amassed outside Malaysiakini’s offices, chanting slogans, including “Merah, merah” (Red, red) and “Hancur Soros” (Destroy Soros).

Speaking to Malaysiakini’s journalists, who invited the red-shirts into their offices for coffee, Jamal Mohammed Yunos said that he will lead a larger rally of “at least 20,000 people” if the news site did not explain how it came to receive a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

“We will make sure part of this building will be runtuh,” he said, using the Malay word for “collapse” or “torn down”.

Malaysiakini ‘s general manager, K. Manohar has filed a police report against these threats today (4 November 2016) at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters in the state of Selangor, requesting police to provide necessary personnel for protection.