|Representatives of women’s NGOs hold a press conference ,|
July 1, 2011. Picture by Melissa Chi
PSWS, WAO, AWAM, Tenaganita, WCC, AWL, Sisters in Islam, SAWO, Perak Women for Women Society.
Struggle for Women's agenda
The women activists in these groups go back to the 1980s and have been instrumental in putting women's issues in the public view. Issues such as:
* violence against women
* women workers - domestic, informal workers and migrant workers
* women and religion
Women activists' sacrifices
Many of these women have sacrificed their times with their families to better the cause for women. For eg it took 10 years for the government to recognise domestic violence as a crime. The women struggled through these years, facing rebuke from their own family members and the public but still struggled to push for the women's agenda to be heard.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.Bersih a struggle for the unheard voices to be heard
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Bersih cause is a struggle for the unheard voices which are muffled and unheard in the main stream media. Why can't these voices be heard? Why must we always hear the voices of the government in the mainstream media. Bersih is a cause for the unorganised workers' voices to be heard. Its also the voice for the rakyat who want change, for dignity and recognition. There's no dignity for the unorganised workers who are paid below the poverty line of RM720/month (which is meant for 4.4 members of the family). This is an official figure. This is ridiculous!!!
Women's groups are proud to say that women are leading the Bersih march for free and fair elections. Women like Dato Ambiga Sreenivasan and Maria Chin
This is TMI's report on the press conference held on 1 July, 2011.
PETALING JAYA, July 1 — Despite repeated warnings and claims of communist links from the authorities, the Bersih secretariat today insisted they will continue organising a rally for free and fair elections as they are “not challenging anyone”.
Police have said they will ensure the July 9 rally does not take place while leaders from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government have warned people to stay away from the Bersih movement, which they claim has been hijacked by political interests.
“I appeal to the government to be rational. Deal with the issue brought to the table and give us an explanation... don’t attack the civil societies.
“They think they are killing the nerve of this campaign. But in fact, it has gone beyond this the secretariat. The rakyat is the nerve,” Empower executive director Maria Chin Abdullah told reporters here today.
Empower’s premises acts as the Bersih secretariat, which was raided by police two days ago. Seven activists were called in for questioning while police seized goods related to the planned rally.“They think they are killing the nerve of this campaign. But in fact, it has gone beyond this the secretariat. The rakyat is the nerve,” Maria Chin
Pictures of Samsiah Fakeh and Abdullah CD, former leaders of the now-defunct Communist Party of Malaya, were also confiscated, and were used to link the NGO with communism. Maria said the communist claim was to discredit the organisation.
She also said that the eight demands by Bersih have been presented to the Election Commission (EC) “many years ago” but no action has been taken.
Election watchdog Bersih along with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) component parties are gearing up for a rally this July 9, the second such gathering calling for electoral reform.
Among others, the group is demanding that the government ensure a clean and fair general election, reforms in the postal voting system and an extended campaign period of at least 21 days.
The first rally, also organised by Bersih, was held in 2007 and saw some 50,000 people take to the capital’s streets. The gathering eventually descended into chaos when the police deployed tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators.