SUHAKAM Press Statement: Calls for Malaysians to Stop Racism & Racial Prejudice

The Memorial service for George Floyd was held on 7 June 2020.

George Floyd, a 46-year old African-American man, died on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a result of police brutality specifically due to compression of his neck and back while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street.

Following the build-up of protests against racism and police brutality in the United Stated, tens of thousands of people have taken part in rallies in cities across the world drawing attention to a common message of human right concern; the call to end racism and racial discrimination wherever it exists.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) wishes to express its solidarity with the people of the USA during this difficult period; and finds it an opportune time to remind Malaysians that ingrained racism, subtle forms of racial discrimination and related intolerance occurs in Malaysia as well. Recent incidences include proliferation of hate speech and racial stereotyping, politicisation of race issues for personal agendas, as well as targeting refugees and migrant workers in social media attacks and petitions calling for their repatriation.

Racism, xenophobia and intolerance elicits hatred and distrust, thereby precluding any attempts to understand circumstances of those at the receiving end, or efforts to create an empathetic, harmonious society. Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set out therein, without distinction of any kind, in particular as to race, colour or national origin.

Rather than debate whether racism exists in Malaysia, perhaps it is time to move beyond the surface of unity and dive deep to undo decades of systematic racial discrimination. SUHAKAM calls for each and every one of us to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes as racism is morally wrong, in principle. The ability to look beyond religion, race, descent or place of birth is a what we need to cultivate in a multiracial society such as in Malaysia.

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