Student activists hold 'Occupy Dataran' reunion

A group of students activists held a reunion last night on Dataran Merdeka which they occupied for two weeks in April, only to be chased off by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officials, claimed one of their leaders. 

muhammad safwan anang launch police report 050112 safwan anang 02Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) chairperson Mohd Safwan Anang (left) told Malaysiakini that the 30-odd activists were merely meeting up before returning to their respective hometowns for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, and had no political agenda for the night. 

Unlike their two-week protest for free education, he said there were no tents, although there was a banner, food, mats, and a microphone used for tazkirah (talks held during breaks between prayers). 

“Our speech was about appreciating the month of Ramadan, and we hope that Malaysia would become a clean, free, and fair country, and that its leadership would improve. 

“That was among the things that were said. We want to celebrate this year’s Merdeka celebrations filled with the promises of Bersih. Maybe that’s why they were angry,” he told Malaysiakini when contacted. 

Safwan added that this might be a prelude to what could happen to the ‘Janji Bersih’ alternative countdown to the National Day celebrations, also slated to be held at the same venue. 

The students had previously camped on Dataran Merdeka for 14 days from April 14 until the Bersih rally on April 28, to demand the abolition of the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN). 

In the process, they had resisted the DBKL’s repeated attempts to evict them, plus an assault by a group of thugs

Dispersed peacefully at 9pm

This time however, the students dispersed peacefully at 9pm after a verbal exchange with DBKL’s enforcement officers. 

Safwan said that the students gathered at about 7.30pm to break fast, but about 10 DBKL enforcement officers showed up at 8pm as they were having their tazkirah. Another van full of DBKL officers joined later. 

He said that in his previous experiences with DBKL, they would usually talk to the students before ordering them to leave. 

“But this time they just came and, without any discussion, shooed us straight away. We felt it was strange that they did that. 

“This is a public place where other people had also gathered. Members of the public were all watching us, wondering what was happening,” he said. 

Safwan said the students were told that they were not allowed to gather there, and that orders from ‘above’ had been given to evict them. 

However, the enforcement officers later left the students alone for Isyak prayers when the call to prayer (azan) was heard, and again told them to leave after the prayers, with which they complied.

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