On September 8, 2018, authorities reportedly arrested International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) students Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi and Siti Nurizzah Tazali during a peaceful protest at the Education Ministry headquarters, in Putrajaya.
Alivi and Tazali were among a group of students holding a sit-in at the Education Ministry demanding the immediate resignation of Minister Maszlee Malik as president of IIUM. At one point during the sit-in, police arrived on the scene and asked the students to leave. At approximately 2:00 AM, after most of the students left, Alivi and Tazali were arrested outside the Ministry gates. Alivi reported that he and Tazali were arrested and charged under Section 447 of the Penal Code, for alleged “criminal trespassing.” They were released on bail at 6:00 AM.
Alivi questions the grounds of their arrest since the gates they stood in front of were already locked. Minister Maszlee stated the next day that he was looking into the reason for the students’ arrest and investigation as he “informed authorities not to arrest participants of this peaceful protest.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of students in connection with the nonviolent exercise of the right to free expression. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. Arrests aimed at limiting such activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.