I follow discussions on the biometric national identity card through emails. Citizens of Mauritius opposing the requirement of biometric data for the purpose of a national identity card, despite their personal differences and affiliations, they have contributed to the resistance through discussions over emails for several months now. I should congratulate Jeff Lingaya for the initiative and coordinating those discussions.

The fight for privacy is long and difficult, I am aware of that.

This post is about one particular incident where the group of individuals, some of whom are affiliated to other groups while some are just freedom fighters (in the sense of privacy), requested the municipality of Beau-Bassin / Rose-Hill permission to hold a pacific gathering at the Raymond Chasle square. The request was made on the 4th of May 2017 for Saturday 20th May 2017. The Mayor of the Municipal Council of Beau-Bassin / Rose-Hill, Fong Suk Koon Ken Fat, denied the request stating that it is municipality policy that no public address to raise political issues could be held at Raymond Chasle square or Place Margeot. Jeff was informed by phone.

The initial request included a note that the municipality suggests an alternative venue in the event that the requested venue is not available. The municipality did not suggest an alternative.

After a rough consensus, it was decided that a complaint will be made today at the Human Rights Commission, denouncing the attitude of the municipality vis-à-vis the group asking to be allowed to publicly express their concerns on the biometric national identity card.

Let me remind that the government never held public discussions, never invited people with concerns, to debate on the biometric national identity card.

The Mayor, Fong Suk Koon Ken Fat, was informed of the group’s intention to lodge a complaint to the Human Rights Commission (HRC). Within minutes after the mention of the HRC, a municipality officer phoned Jeff to inform him that permission has been granted to hold the gathering at the Edward 7 site. Jeff expressed concerns about the site being a traffic zone and less than 24 hours won’t suffice to obtain approval from police and possibly the Road Development Authority (RDA). Jeff maintained that the group is going ahead with the complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

It appears that in a rush, perhaps due to panic, the officer sent Jeff an email containing an upside down scanned letter dated 19 May 2017, which said:

This is to inform you that Council has taken note of your request and regrets to inform you that same cannot be entertained. Please note that the Raymond Chasle square is used only for social & cultural activities. You are kindly requested to contact the undersigned on Tel: (413-7600) or his representative for other conditions.

What could be more frustrating than being officially denied of a venue on the eve of the gathering and not be offered a suitable alternative?