Malaysia: Excessive Force Used to Disperse Peaceful Protests

Impartial Investigation Needed of Police Use of Water Cannon, Teargas
April 29, 2012
 
The use of water cannons and teargas against peaceful protesters shows the Malaysian police were out of control, not the demonstrators. The government should stop patting itself on the back and promptly investigate why unnecessary force was used and punish those responsible.


Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director 
 
(Bangkok) – The Malaysian government should impartially investigate alleged excessive use of force by police to disperse tens of thousands of peaceful protesters in Kuala Lumpur calling for election reform, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch observed police using teargas and water cannons against peaceful participants on April 28, 2012, at a mass rally held by Bersih (“clean”), the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, after a small group attempted to breach a police barricade.

Police subsequently arrested at least 471 people, and dozens were injured by beatings or in confrontations with the police. The police on April 29 announced that all arrested have been released, but warned that some demonstrators could be charged in the near future.

“The use of water cannons and teargas against peaceful protesters shows the Malaysian police were out of control, not the demonstrators,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should stop patting itself on the back and promptly investigate why unnecessary force was used and punish those responsible.”

In the early afternoon of April 28, tens of thousands of Bersih supporters, many dressed in canary yellow T-shirts, marched towards Kuala Lumpur’s national landmark Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). Because the authorities had obtained a court order barring Bersih from gathering at Dataran Merdeka, rally participants marched to the edges of the barricaded square for a planned sit-in at 2 p.m.

Around 2:30 p.m., Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevasan and parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim announced the rally had succeeded in its goals and called on the crowd to disperse. Some participants slowly began to depart, but many did not. Around 3 p.m., a small group breached the barricade to Dataran Merdeka. Police responded by firing dozens of teargas rounds not only at those who crossed the police line, but also at the peaceful crowds who were nowhere near the barricaded square. Human Rights Watch observed the police using teargas and water cannons against demonstrators who were running away and groups of people far from the square; this continued until about 7 p.m. The police set up roadblocks and shut down train services in the vicinity, making it difficult for people to leave expeditiously.

A Bersih participant, Lau Ming, 25, told Human Rights Watch in Kuala Lumpur that: “I was very happy today. We were marching peacefully together and then the police used tear gas to intimidate us. We had not done anything wrong.”


The Malaysian government quickly issued a statement that the police had acted properly and that the protest was without major incident. Minister of Home Affairs Hishamuddeen Hussain “commend[ed] the police for their professionalism and the restraint they have shown under difficult circumstances” and said a “group of protesters tried to provoke a violent confrontation with the police.”

“Instead of trying to close the book on the protest, the government should launch an impartial and transparent inquiry into the actions of the police,” Robertson said. “Whether the government likes it or not, there will be future demonstrations and the police will need to do a better job to ensure security and respect people’s rights.”

Some people engaged in violence against the police later in the afternoon and they should be appropriately fined or prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said. These included protesters who overturned a police car after it allegedly hit two demonstrators and others who threw water bottles or other objects at the police.

On April 23, five days prior to the Bersih rally, the Peaceful Assembly Act of 2012 went into effect, allowing the police wide discretion to set the terms under which groups of people can assemble in public. City officials rejected Bersih’s request to use Dataran Merdeka for their rally, citing safety concerns and stating the square could only be used for what authorities consider national events. The city suggested alternatives, but Bersih maintained Dataran Merdeka is a public square for the use of the people. Bersih also rejected alternatives because they stated it was too late to change preparations for the large crowd expected and because the Dataran Merdeka site was more accessible.

On April 27 the police obtained a magistrate’s order barring Bersih from the square and the adjoining streets. The public was warned “not to turn up, attend or take part in any gathering from April 28, 2012 to May 1, 2012.” Prior to April 28, the police also refused Bersih’s request for assistance in crowd management during the rally.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provides that law enforcement officials shall, as far as possible, apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force. Force may be used “only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.” When the lawful use of force is unavoidable, “law enforcement officials shall exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved and minimize damage and injury.” In the dispersal of unlawful but nonviolent assemblies, “law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.”


In July 2011, police used teargas and water cannons to break up a Bersih mass rally and arrested more than 1,600 people. Following national and international condemnation of the crackdown, Prime Minister Najib Razak set up a bipartisan parliamentary panel, which suggested several changes to the election system. Bersih leaders criticized those changes as inadequate to ensure that the next national elections, expected within a few months, are fair. Bersih has called for the current membership of the Election Commission to resign, for voting rolls to be purged of fraudulent names, and the election to be monitored by international observers.

“The authorities’ use of the new Peaceful Assembly Law to try to prevent, rather than facilitate, the Bersih rally raises serious concerns about the government’s reform efforts more generally,” Robertson said. “The government needs to show that it’s serious about political reform.”

Malaysian Police Brutality - VIDEO

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f05_1335621308

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1f9_1335642211


Why Malaysian Police Disrespect Civil Society Rights?

Elderly & Children become the victim of Malaysian Police Brutality firing tear gas and water canon towards the helpless people. 

 I was at the head of the sit-in protest on Leboh Pasar Besar when the police started mobilizing the armored tanker-trucks to the front of the police line and without warning started spraying chemically laced water onto us. From later accounts after I got home it seemed that some protestors got violent and broke through the barricades in another location, but from where we were we had no intention or at least urgency in crossing the line. I found out also later that the bell that rang was a warning that they would start spraying, but at that time I suppose we were not familiar with riot procedures.

Most of us were visibly stunned, not unlike deers caught in headlights, displayed delayed reaction in view of oncoming water gushing juggernaut. It wasn’t until the pop-pop sound of tear gas canisters being emptied and started falling around us that we turned around and ran for dear life. We took shelter behind buildings and road signs, where some of the more foolhardy amongst us would emerge again into the open and taunt the police. Some petulant ones would rummage for anything to throw at the trucks, but being too far or his chosen projectile too unwieldy, almost always comically failing to hit the mark.
It was then most of us started to feel it.

The chemical water was irritating my skin, but not enough to persuade me to give up my ground and continue taking pictures. With the first whiff of the gas however I started to choke, and within the next few seconds I heaved and wheezed with much difficulty, my eyes started to hurt and water, and the pain was quickly becoming excruciating. I ran away a few blocks disorientated, clashing bodies and tripping over pavements. I could hardly open my eyes, but spied a young Malay couple running with a young child in the father’s arms, all wrapped up and bawling her lungs out. All I could think then was thank you for being here, but leave the kid at home.

At a clearing at the Tun H S Lee junction I paused to take in my surroundings. I accepted some salt this lady was handing out at a street corner, and quickly ingested it. People were streaming in from wherever they were running from. Everywhere I looked, people were exhausted, disheveled, wet from sweat or the chemical water or having rinsed themselves, their eyes blood red from its effects or some visibly crying. Some defiant ones pointed their middle fingers to the riot police in the distance or above at the helicopters.
We lingered at little bit more, got boxed in a little bit more, got shot at with tear gas a little bit more, and ran a little bit more, but it was clear to me that our day was done. We had proved a point.

We came out in encouraging numbers, approaching 100,000 according to some media estimates. From my start point in Brickfields we moved off in the direction of the city with a couple of hundred people which quickly swelled to the thousands, whopping in welcoming groups to merge into us from the highway ramps & the side streets, motorists honking and takings pictures and giving out thumbs up signs. We held up banners. We chanted slogans, and at underpasses, our echoes resonating even more and penetrating us back with spine chilling effect.

The point that some would make is that most who attended the Bersih 3.0 rally were already the converted, that they would be voting for the other side anyway. But it is not just about that. It also also not solely about marching regardless of race or creed or religion, that the Indian man would be walking side by side with a Malay woman, and on her side a Chinese boy. It is not just about that.

We are probably the-already-converted who attended the rally, but having been there reinforces us, dispelling our big brother fears and entrenches the belief that what we are doing is right, that we are holding up our democratic rights, the right to a clean and fair electoral system, one that decides our representatives in government. This year more people openly wore the iconic yellow than before. Most importantly, we knew that we were heading towards Dataran Merdeka not as the opposition or to meet with a politician or a political party, but with the knowledge that we were there for ourselves and the future we will leave to our children.

The fight will not be easy, and it will not be fair. Already the cynics among us are saying that the unruly protestors who broke through the barricades may have been Special Branch, that the people who threw the gas canisters back at the police line looked like they knew what they were doing, as if they had military training in the way they threw them. It may turn out untrue, but whatever the story is, we know that we can no longer trust the sitting government. We know that they control the mainstream media, the civil service and a compromised judiciary. They have a huge war chest and they will do whatever to desperately cling onto power. We know but can’t blame the poor amongst us who sell their votes for a sack of rice. With everything going against us we must possess the fortitude to see through the promises of this awakening – that it is the people who wields the power.


Police Brutality in Malaysia - Protester Beaten During Bersih 3.0 Rally

PAS gives EC chief, deputy 30 days to resign

April 30, 2012
Abdul Aziz has been given an ultimatum to quit his EC post. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — PAS has given the Election Commission (EC) top duo 30 days to resign their posts after it was revealed both are Umno members. 
 
EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and his deputy, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, have admitted to the possibility of being members of the ruling party but said they were not active due to their job. Both have retired from the civil service.

“We give 30 days’ notice to the two to resign. They should be non-partisan because they are the ‘referee’ in an election,” PAS assistant secretary-general Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi said yesterday.

PAS organ Harakahdaily quoted him as saying it was unfair for any “referee” to be biased to any team.

“It’s like football. If Manchester United plays Manchester City, how can the referee be from Manchester United? If Selangor plays Kelantan, the referee is from Selangor, Kelantan will be gone,” he added.

PAS will also send a memorandum to the EC today asking for the top two to resign.

Bersih 3.0 gathering in New York City on April 28, 2012.


Participants of Bersih 3.0 in Columbus, Ohio pose for a photograph on April 28, 2012.


Chicago participants of Bersih 3.0 show their support on April 28, 2012.


Who gave the instruction to initiate violence towards Peaceful Rally?

Can you believe this? Hishamuddin said seizure of journalists cameras standard operating procedure? How moronic?



I had always thought that Home Minister Kerismuddin is not smart, especially when he was caught on camera in a press conference with the cow head protesters saying silly things trying to justify the rowdiness and the stepping on the cow head by those protesters.

However, this take the prize. This silly Kerismuddin admitted the seizure of journalists (and manhandling) is police standard operating procedure? How can a lawyer and Home Minister admit that and put the police in scorn?

Despite BN's all-out resistance, pressure builds for Malaysia reforms

Despite BN's all-out resistance, pressure builds for Malaysia reforms
A MASSIVE street rally demanding electoral reforms in Malaysia raised questions yesterday about when the long-ruling coalition government will call elections in the face of such a strong show of force by the opposition.
Police used teargas and chemical-laced water against about 50,000 people and arrested more than 450 at the demonstration. All those arrested were later released.
The rally was held to pressure Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition - which has been in power for 55 years - to overhaul what the opposition and civil groups call biased electoral policies before polls that had been widely expected to be held as early as June.
GE-13 in September?
Some analysts said the rally, the second in 10 months, undermines Mr Najib's efforts to bolster public support for his coalition and may prompt him to delay any plans to call early elections. Polls do not need to be held until mid-next year, but speculation had previously been rife that Mr Najib may dissolve parliament next month and seek a new mandate in June.
However, the protests could rattle Mr Najib's confidence, especially since the last election delivered the biggest opposition gains yet - even though the ruling National Front retained power.
"The rally is a way for many Malaysians to show that they are no longer suppressed. It has whipped up anti-government sentiment and this could encourage Najib to call for later elections," said Ong Kee Beng of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
The country's largest English newspaper, The Star, said in an opinion piece that the more likely time for polls would be in the first week of September.
25,000 crowd size?
National police spokesman Ramli Yoosuf said that 471 people were arrested but all have been released. It was not immediately clear whether they would be charged with any offence. Mr Ramli said the crowd size, earlier estimated at 25,000, doubled to near 50,000 at its peak.
Demonstrators wearing yellow T-shirts, waving banners and chanting slogans poured into downtown Kuala Lumpur, massing near a public square that police had sealed off with barbed wire and barricades.
Mr Najib's popularity dipped after a similar rally last July by about 20,000 people who were dispersed by teargas. He has since instituted a raft of reforms intended to build support - including overhauling decades-old security laws - and agreed to new electoral regulations.
But activists allege voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent names.
AP

Ambiga said the crowd was under control until the tear gas was fired by Malaysian Police

Ambiga: We can’t control what politicians say

Tarani Palani | April 29, 2012
The rally was to feature only speeches from Ambiga, co-chairman A Samad Said and songs, says Bersih.
KUALA LUMPUR: Election watchdog Bersih 3.0 has no control over what politicians say at its public events, its co-chairman S Ambiga said.
“We did not know that they [opposition] leaders were going to speak. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim came up and spoke to the crowd. There were groups in the crowd which wanted to hear the opposition leaders speak.
“I cannot control what they say,” she said amidst reports that opposition leaders had incited the crowd to breach the barriers at Dataran Merdeka during the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday.
She added that the plan for the gathering did not allow for politicians to speak.
In fact, she said that had Bersih known that politicians were going to deliver speeches, it would not allow them to do so.
“We wouldn’t have allowed them to speak,” she told a press conference today.
Yesterday, the peaceful assembly of about 80,000 people turned violent at about round 3pm when a few protesters broke through the barriers at Dataran Merdeka, which was sealed off.
The “attack” on the barricades prompted the police to fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
The clash between the police and the protesters lasted for about four hours.
No political speeches
There were many news reports which singled out PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Anwar for inciting the crowd to breach the barrier.
Azmin reportedly told the crowd to reclaim Dataran which “did not belong to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)”.
Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, who also present, said the event was to feature only speeches from Ambiga, co-chairman A Samad Said and songs.
“Before April 28, all the NGOs agreed to exclude any political speeches by political leaders… that was also agreed upon by the political parties,” she said.
Ambiga said that she could not comment on Azmin’s actions as she did not witness it in person and asked for it to be investigated.
“But Anwar [when he was on the truck with Ambiga] did not order the crowd to charge,” she said.
She added that Bersih had the last word, and which was to ask the crowd to disperse.
“Let me tell you what happened: I was on the truck and we told the crowd to disperse. We were moving into Jalan Tun Perak to tell the crowd to disperse in stages.
“Then someone charged [at the barriers]; it had nothing to do with us; we want to know as well.
“In fact, it is against what Bersih had announced,” she added.
‘Work of agent provocateurs’
Ambiga said that this could have been the work of agent provocateurs and called for a full inquiry by Suhakam into the whole protest.
Ambiga said the crowd was under control until the tear gas was fired.
“What I saw from the truck was amazing: people were gathered peacefully.
“All purported acts of violence took place only after the tear gas was fired; until then we have complete control,” she said, giving credit to PAS Unit Amal which provided most of the security for the day.
She said that such large crowds can be controlled as can be seen during Thaipusam and Wesak Day celebrations.
Ambiga also asked why the train stations were shut during the protest when police were dispersing the crowd after 3pm.
“These people wanted to leave but couldn’t. Who gave (RapidKL) the order to do so?” she said.
On the incident where a police car was overturned near Sogo, she said:
“There were some accounts that the car was overturned because the crowd believed that someone was under the car. Don’t just publish the picture of an overturned car. Please don’t make assumptions,” she said.
She again called for a full inquiry into the rally to identify who were the trouble-makers.
As for organising another rally, Ambiga said that nothing has been decided yet, adding that the group will continue to highlight the irregularities in the electoral process.
“The government must answer and not deflect [attention] from the issue just because of the violence (at the rally).
“Some 250 000 Malaysians turned up to demand for free and fair elections; what is the government’s response?” she asked.
Bersih chief medical officer, Dr Farouk Musa, said that 117 demonstrators were treated for minor injuries and dehydration.
He added that those who were hospitalised had been discharged this morning.

Punched, slapped, kicked by Malaysian Police

Tarani Palani | April 29, 2012
Some protesters related to Bersih of the treatment at the hands of the police.

KUALA LUMPUR: Most of the protesters at the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday were allegedly beaten when they were at the Masjid Jamek area.
Many of them claimed the police carried no name tags or identification numbers on their uniforms when they launched their attacks at about 6pm. The assault lasted for three hours.
Some of the protesters related their ordeal to Bersih at a press conference at a restaurant near the Chinese Assembly Hall here today.
Protester Adrian Low (picture above), 38, said he was repeatedly stomped on his back even after he was detained. His back still carries the footprints of the police boots.
“I was at the side walk of the road, texting to a friend who had gone missing when about 10 police officers charged at me. I was wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirt.
“The officers kicked and punched me in the eye, head, neck,” he said.
“Then I was taken to Dataran Merdeka [which had been turned into a temporary detention centre]. There they continued to assault me.
“They just came and punched me continuously even after I was detained,” he said.

Beaten several minutes

Another protester, Nurul Amani Faizal (picture right), 28, said that 10 male police officers charged at her and beat her.
“They had just fired a tear gas at Masjid Jamek so my friends and I ran in the opposite direction. I wasn’t wearing the Bersih T-shirt but I was a rally participant. They caught hold of me and beat me.
“Then one officer slapped me and asked a female officer to arrest me,” she said, adding that she sustained injuries in her lower back.
Mohamad Fazwan Yusoff (picture below left), 23, who sustained bruises to his face and left eye, said that he was about to leave Masjid Jamek when the police dragged him and assaulted him.
“My friends and I saw the police step on a lady so we went to help her. Suddenly, a group of policemen appeared and attacked us too.
“I don’t remember how many charged at me but I was beaten for several minutes and they didn’t stop even in the police truck.
“They just continued their assault,” he said.
Daniel Lee (picture below, right), 39, who was in his Himpunan Hijau green T-shirt, said that he was assaulted for taking pictures of the policemen beating the protesters.
“I wanted to go back to Kelana Jaya. I was at Masjid Jamek station when I saw some policemen assaulting someone so I took a video. They then surrounded me.
“They didn’t take my camera but they punched and kicked me and I needed five stitches behind my ear,” he said, showing his blood-stained green shirt.

Photographic evidence

Bersih steering committee member, Wong Chin Huat, who was arrested himself, said that it was not unusual for the police to continue their insults and assaults even after the protesters were detained.
“They only stopped beating me when I fell to the ground; even then, they continued to shout racial insults in the trucks,” he said.
He also said that Bersih heard of policemen who were dressed in yellow Bersih T-shirts while videographing the detainees in the police trucks and detention centres.
Bersih co-chairman, S Ambiga, called for a full inquiry into the protest to identify “those who created the problem”.
“There is too many photographic evidence. When the dust settles, the truth will emerge,” she said.
The peaceful assembly turned violent at about 3pm when some protesters breached the barricade which cordoned off Dataran Merdeka.
Tear gas and water cannons were fired to disperse the 80,000-strong crowd. The police and protesters clashed for about four hours before police regained control of the city.
As of last night, police said that 388 arrests were made.
However, Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, said that the police told PKR vice -president Tian Chua (who was also arrested) that 460 arrests were made.
“He was released at 5am this morning and the police conveyed the information [of the arrests] to him,” she said.

‘Rally peaceful until protesters were provoked by Malaysian Police’

K Pragalath | April 29, 2012
An international fact-finding mission on the Malaysian election also notes that the mainstream media is biased.
KUALA LUMPUR: An international fact-finding mission on election found that the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday was peaceful until the police acted provocatively.
Speaking at a press conference to present a preliminary report on the rally here today, independent Senator Nick Xenophon from Australia said: “It was peaceful [until the protesters were provoked].”
He also criticised the one-sided report on the rally in the mainstream broadcast media.
“The mainstream media is biased and unfair. We saw more of Prime Minister Najib (Tun Razak) in Sabah on television than the largest political expression in Malaysia,” said Xenophon.
Another member of the seven-men team, India Times editor MJ Akbar, said the participants were actually in a festive mood.
“The crowd had ample time to turn violent if they had wanted to. [But] there was a festive mood until the provocation happened,” Akbar said.
Senator Hasil Bizenjo of Pakistan was surprised that transport services to Kuala Lumpur were crippled yesterday.
“In other countries transport is provided for people to attend a rally. Here some people told me that they had to walk 20km to attend the rally,” Bizenjo said.
The other members of the team are writer Nasir Tamara of Indonesia, Clinton Fernandes of University New South Wales, Dean Amado Valdez of the Philippines and Juliane Schmucker from Germany.
Recalling a conversation the group had with Umno secretary-general, Tengku Adnan Mansor, Fernandes said:
“He [Tengku Adnan] stressed the importance of ‘avoiding racial strife. He also said improvement on election is not needed because the people here are immature.”
Fernandes also quoted Tengku Adnan as saying: “One of the problems with Indonesia is that there is too much freedom.”
However, Akbar said that “democracy needs freedom from fear and freedom of assembly”.
“It is unfortunate that some voices believe that this nation wants to exercise harmony without democracy,” he said, adding that he believes Malaysia deserves democracy.
The preliminary report also highlighted the mission’s concern over the integrity of the 240,000 election workers, and the lack of free and fair elections.
Bizenjo pointed out the weakness of Malaysia’s democratic institutions.
“The Election Commission looks so backward… It needs to improve. Even Pakistan has moved to electronic voting,” he said.
The members also declared their independence even though they were invited by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to witness the rally.
“We don’t care who wins. I am not a Malaysian,” Fernandes said.

Bersih rally shows angry and divided nation, says Umno deputy minister

April 29, 2012
A protester shouts during a confrontation with police near Dataran Merdeka, in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — An Umno deputy minister broke ranks with his colleagues today, saying the violent and chaotic scenes at yesterday’s Bersih rally pointed to an angry and divided nation that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) must take special care in addressing.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told The Malaysian Insider the crowd that flooded the streets of the capital to call for free and fair elections was larger and more multiracial than last July 9’s Bersih rally.
“There were elements of defiance and anger from the crowd and police who acted strangely towards journalists. BN must be very careful in addressing this,” the deputy higher education minister said ahead of an Umno supreme council meeting tonight.
BN-linked media and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin have swiftly blamed Bersih and opposition leaders for the violence that followed after some demonstrators defied orders from police and organisers not to breach the barriers surrounding Dataran Merdeka.
Saifuddin said he would raise the handling of yesterday’s planned sit-in at the historic square during tonight’s party leadership meeting.
“Last year, members of the public were not angry, they just wanted fair polls. This time they’re angry. But yet surveys show BN’s support has gone up. This just tells me the country is getting more and more divided.
“If not for the police car incident, Bersih 3.0 would be a bigger issue for BN,” he said.
Tens of thousands demonstrators were dispersed by police with water cannon and tear gas after some rally-goers pushed through the barricade in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and tried to rush into Dataran Merdeka.
Some of the 15,000-strong group sandwiched between police and DBKL broke down the barriers and moved towards the historic square, prompting police to fire chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali had tried to negotiate with police, who told the Gombak MP to calm the group down. But despite his advice, they still broke through the barricades.
Police fired as far as the DBKL premises, which are across Jalan Parlimen, and the move broke up the crowd who fled helter-skelter but police chased them down at Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja Laut.
Angry protestors later attacked a police car, which then crashed into at least two people while trying to flee.
Despite most of the crowd dispersing, a pocket of 1,000 demonstrators then engaged in open battle with riot police near Masjid Jamek.
A police officer was seen dragging a man across the road, which resulted in Bersih supporters attacking the police with broken bottles, mineral water bottles and broken concrete slabs.
A convoy of police vehicles ferrying Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail in one of its cars was forced to make a U-turn near Masjid Jamek when met with a hostile reception from protestors who threw shoes and broken concrete slabs at them, smashing the windows of two cars.

Bersih says will pursue EC chief, deputy’s resignations

April 29, 2012


KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Bersih will focus on removing the current Election Commission (EC) leadership, claiming that the government must “listen to the people” after tens of thousands rallied for free and fair elections yesterday.
The electoral reforms movement said today it will “reconsider its position” against holding another rally if the government fails to commit to further electoral reforms, after claiming that yesterday’s sit-in drew a crowd of 250,000 to city streets.
The coalition of 84 civil societies said that once it had dealt with the immediate concern of alleged police brutality, it would pursue the resignation of the Election Commission (EC) chief and his deputy as well as the cleaning of the electoral roll it asserts is rife with fraudulent voters.
“A responsible government would now say we will listen to the people. We will focus on the EC (resignations),” Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (picture) said of the duo who recently admitted they were once and possible still are Umno members.
“If there is no action, we will have to reconsider our position,” Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said less than 24 hours after tens of thousands were dispersed with tear gas and water cannon in chaotic scenes that led to open battle between some rally-goers and riot police.
Its repeated call for EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and his deputy, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, to quit gained further momentum recently when PKR claimed that the duo were still members of Umno.
Both individuals admitted they were once members of the senior party in the ruling coalition but insisted they were no longer active, that the memberships were from long ago, and they could not remember if they were still members.
Yesterday’s planned sit-in at Dataran Merdeka was the electoral reforms movement’s third rally in just over four years.
The first came just months before the landmark March 2008 election, which saw Barisan Nasional (BN) cede its customary two-thirds majority of Parliament.
A second rally held on July 9 last year saw over 10,000 flood into the streets of the capital before police dispersed them with tear gas and water cannon and arrested over 1,500 demonstrators.
The clampdown saw widespread condemnation from the foreign media, forcing Datuk Seri Najib Razak to announce a raft of reforms including a parliamentary select committee into electoral improvements.
But Bersih declared the findings of the bipartisan panel “disappointing” early this month and announced yesterday’s sit-in at Dataran Merdeka to call for a greater commitment from the administration to free and fair elections.
Demonstrators were dispersed by police with water cannon and tear gas yesterday after some rally-goers pushed through a barricade in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and tried to rush into Dataran Merdeka.
Some of the 15,000-strong group sandwiched between police and DBKL broke down the barriers and moved towards the historic square, leading to police firing chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali had tried to negotiate with police, who told the Gombak MP to calm the group down. But despite his advice they still broke through the barricades.
Despite most of the crowd dispersing, a pocket of 1,000 demonstrators then engaged in open battle with riot police near Masjid Jamek.
A police officer was seen dragging a man across the road, which resulted in Bersih supporters attacking the police with broken bottles, mineral water bottles and broken concrete slabs.
A convoy of police vehicles ferrying Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail in one of its cars was forced to make a U-turn near Masjid Jamek when met with a hostile reception from protestors who threw shoes and broken concrete slabs at them, smashing the windows of two cars.

Lawyer claims he was attacked by cops

  • Nigel Aw
  • 2:32PM Apr 29, 2012
 
A lawyer who served as an observer at the Bersih 3.0 protest yesterday said he was attacked by police officers who continued beating him after he had been detained.

Mohd Haijan Omar, who was observing the protest on behalf of Lawyers for Liberty, was on his way to the parking lot in front of Reggae Mansion Hostel at Jalan Tun HS Lee when he saw several police officers pursuing fleeing protesters at around 7pm.

haijan omar 290412“I saw the police chasing the protesters. I was just standing there, I didn’t know whether to go to the left or right because it was just chaos in front of my eyes.

“Then they said something to me, and I replied, ‘Pardon me?’ and then they just started to charge at me, I was caught off-guard,” he said.

Mohd Haijan was clad in a yellow T-shirt with a white shirt on the outside during the protest.

However, he had removed the outer layer of his outfit as he was going home, and speculated that this may have been a possible reason why he was beaten up.

“They (two officers) started to whack me even after I told them I was a lawyer. Then another three officers came and they whacked me even after they had subdued me,” he said.

When he was being taken to Dataran Merdeka where all the detainees were being held, two more officers hit him again.

“I asked whether I was arrested but they didn’t say anything,” he said.

As a result, Mohd Haijan said he suffered a cut on the side of his left eye and a swelling at his jaw, on top of bruises throughout his body.

He was later taken to the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) at Jalan Semarak to be processed.

“Pulapol was totally a different world, there they serve you food and you wait for your number to be called,” he said.

Mohd Haijan has since lodged a police report yesterday over the incident.

Student activist's mum hospitalised

Meanwhile, Independent Student Activists Group (Kami) deputy president Khalid Ismath’s mother, Faridah Abdul, was hospitalised after being allegedly being stomped on during the protest yesterday.

NONEWhen contacted, Khalid said he was leading student activists at Dataran DBKL at the front of the group, while his 50-year-old mother was located in the middle.

“When police fired tear gas... she became short of breath and she fell, her head hit a rock.

“After she fell, police chased protesters and many people knocked into her, then the police came and stomped on her, my mother lost consciousness and only awakened last night,” he said.

This, Khalid added, was conveyed to him by eyewitnesses who were near his mother during the chaos.

She was admitted into Hospital Kuala Lumpur at 4pm, added Khalid, and police said Faridah may have suffered intestinal rupture.

“My mother is still weak and cannot move. She can only lie on the bed, her speech is also slow and she is still suffering a headache,” he said.

Khalid added that the family is awaiting scans of Faridah’s intestine. If a rupture is confirmed, surgery will be necessary.

71-year-old woman claims she was punched by police

  • Kow Gah Chie
  • 4:50PM Apr 29, 2012
 
A 71-year-old female protester has alleged today that she was punched and water was splashed on her face by police personnel.

The woman, who hails from Kuantan and who wished to be known only as Tow, was among the 512 people who were arrested at the Bersih 3.0 rally yesterday. She was later released at approximately noon earlier today.

tah ah mei assault 290412Tow (right in photo) said a female police officer punched her as she was being pushed roughly into a police van.

“She punched my face, I kicked her back, and she was thrown backwards,” she said during a press conference arranged by DAP, at Masjid Jamek LRT station, Jalan Tun Perak in Kuala Lumpur today.

Tow even demonstrated how she was beaten and raised her leg to show how she kicked back.

She also claimed the officer wanted to beat her again, but was stopped by a senior officer.
The fiery elderly woman said she regretted she only counter-attacked once.

“I should have beaten her more,” she claimed.

Tow said while she was being escorted by two officers, a male officer came to her and splashed water at her face, and she was puzzled at such a move.

She also claimed she witnessed police brutality at Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Tun Perak.

“I saw three gentle-looking young men being beaten near Dataran Merdeka,” she said, adding that over 10 officers took turns to beat and kick them.

Tow also noted that a few people were lying flat on the ground, not moving.

When asked what was her response to these incidents, she threatened to identify the officers if complaints were lodged by the alleged victims.

She claimed to remember the faces of these officers and that of the female officer who had punched her.

Tow claimed she was saddened by the senseless beating scene, saying, “It broke my heart, as if my own children been beaten.”

‘I saw about 50 injured protesters’

Another eyewitness and protester, Liu Yang, who was arrested yesterday, claimed he saw approximately 50 protesters who were injured, and that might be a sign of police brutality.

“Among them, I also noted 10 to 20 detainees covered with a lot of blood,” he said, adding that most of the detainees suffered injuries at the head area.

Liu said the wounded people were left untreated for as long as two hours, before they were sent to hospital.

“I noticed a man who had nearly fainted with an injury to his head. He had to use his shirt as a bandage.”

Female reporter 'grabbed' by four male cops at rally



  • Aidila Razak
  • 1:49PM Apr 29, 2012
 
A female reporter was manhandled by four male police personnel at about 7.30pm, when she tried to photograph police personnel beating up protesters who were eating at a restaurant.

Merdeka Review
reporter Chen Shaua Fui said the incident happened at Jalan Tun Perak.

“Police dragged out two people who were eating, arrested them and beat them up. I wanted to take a photo but was warned by police not to, so I didn’t.

“Then they went to another restaurant where two others were having their meal. The police asked them to take off their shirts, arrested and beat them. I wanted to take photos and that’s when they grabbed me,” she said.

Chen, who said she was the only journalist left there at the time, said that one officer had grabbed her right arm, another grabbed her left arm and another tried to snatch her bag.

“I was holding my camera in my right hand and mobile phone in my left hand. They tried to take my camera.

“They pulled off my media tag and kicked the tag away. At that point I was afraid they would arrest me as a protester even though I am a journalist, but then they just left,” she said.

She said the incident happened so fast that she did not see their names or unit numbers.

The Sun reporter warded

 Meanwhile, a reporter from The Sun newspaper has been warded with broken ribs and suspected internal injuries  following yesterday's rally.

According to colleague Alyaa Alhadjri, Radzi Razak is currently warded at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

“When I left at 12.30am this morning, tests were conducted as it was suspected that he sustained internal injuries in his stomach,” she said when contacted.

It is still unclear how exactly he sustained the injuries, but Malaysiakini reporter Zulaikha Zulkifli said that a large group of police had charged to the area where Radzi was standing at around 5.30pm.
Radzi was said to be standing at the corner of Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja Laut, while Zulaikha was at the corner of Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja.

“I saw police go to where Radzi was. There were not many protesters there. Then I saw someone wearing white on the ground. An ambulance then stopped there,” she said.

Malaysiakini reporter Nigel Aw said when he arrived at the scene, Radzi was already on the ground and “barely conscious (and) surrounded by a lot of people”.

A photograph of him shows Radzi, who was wearing a white shirt, lying on his back and surrounded by medical officers. He was seen wearing his press tag.
Later today it was reported that after further checks, it was found that Radzi does not have broken ribs, but his wounds were from an old fracture. He has bruises on his head and the specialist is still running checks on whether he has internal injuries.

Al Jazeera videoman ‘punched’

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reporter Harry Fawcett said that he was “manhandled” by several uniformed police personnel when he had tried to capture what looked like police assaulting protesters.

He told Malaysiakini that a group of 10 to 15 police personnel surrounded him and Al Jazeera videographer Ray Jones at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

“We saw two or three police officers hold a guy while another was kneeing him either in the face or in the chest, it wasn’t clear.

“When we went to record it, I found that we were surrounded by police who were extremely aggressive. They held my arm and gripped my shirt. When I turned around, the camera was on the ground,” he said when contacted.

He said Jones told him that he was “punched at the back of the head” by police personnel and the camera was “smashed” to the ground.

“The camera was wrenched from him and our wireless microphone and battery pack was taken. The camera was smashed to the ground, and we coudn’t take the tape out. It was inoperable,” he said.

Minutes before the incident, Fawcett and Jones were also stopped from recording another incident where police allegedly assaulted protesters.

“A group of protesters tried to enter Dataran Merdeka... two or three police officers would hold one guy while another punched his body. We were about 100 metres away from the scene,” he said.

Others hurt during the rally were Malay Mail photographer Arif Kartono, reportedly assaulted by several uniformed police personnel and Al-Hijrah videographer Mohd Azri Mohd Salleh, reportedly assaulted by protesters.

At least two media personnel, including Malaysiakini's photojournalist Koh Jun Lin, were also arrested in what appears to be an unprecedented heavy-handedness on journalists by the authorities.

BERSIH 3.0 Supporters


photo

Malaysians in Osaka, Japan at a gathering in solidarity with Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections on April 28, 2012.



  • Rally-goers hold banners in support of Bersih’s demand for free and fair elections in Portland, Oregon April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Shirley Wong
  • Malaysians in Osaka, Japan at a gathering in solidarity with Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections on April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Satya Arjunan

Bersih 3.0 participants in San Francisco pose with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background April 28, 2012.



  • Rally-goers hold banners in support of Bersih’s demand for free and fair elections in Portland, Oregon April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Shirley Wong
  • Malaysians in Osaka, Japan at a gathering in solidarity with Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections on April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Satya Arjunan
  • Bersih 3.0 participants in San Francisco pose with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy imgur.com

Malaysians draw attention to Bersih’s cause in Geneva, Switzerland April 28, 2012.




  • Rally-goers hold banners in support of Bersih’s demand for free and fair elections in Portland, Oregon April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Shirley Wong
  • Malaysians in Osaka, Japan at a gathering in solidarity with Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections on April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Satya Arjunan
  • Bersih 3.0 participants in San Francisco pose with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy imgur.com
  • Malaysians draw attention to Bersih’s cause in Geneva, Switzerland April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy imgur.com

A sea of yellow in Houston, Texas April 28, 2012



  • Rally-goers hold banners in support of Bersih’s demand for free and fair elections in Portland, Oregon April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Shirley Wong
  • Malaysians in Osaka, Japan at a gathering in solidarity with Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections on April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy of Satya Arjunan
  • Bersih 3.0 participants in San Francisco pose with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy imgur.com
  • Malaysians draw attention to Bersih’s cause in Geneva, Switzerland April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy imgur.com
  • A sea of yellow in Houston, Texas April 28, 2012. — Picture courtesy imgur.com
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