At least 50,000 expected at anti-ISA rally, police unhappy


The Abolish ISA Movement or Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA expects more than 50,000 supporters to take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur this Saturday in a rally to mark the 49th anniversary of the dreaded law.

The movement, consisting of the cream of Malaysian civil society, hopes to send an unmistakable message to Prime Minister Najib Razak that the time has come to end the oppressive law used frequently by his Umno-BN government to detain political foes without trial for indefinite periods of time.

“Based on the feedback we have received, at least 50,000 people will attend,” GMI committee member Norlaila Othman was reported as saying.

But despite the GMI’s determination to stage the rally, Norlaila expressed concern that the authorities may still throw a last-minute spanner into the works.

Already, Omardin Mauju the head of the Association of Seni Silat Lincah Malaysia – which is pro-ISA – has asked members not to take part.

Said PKR strategic affairs director Tian Chua: “This is bound to be used as yet another excuse for the police to clamp down on protesters.”

Anti-ISA versus Pro-ISA

Police have already warned against the rally but both GMI and its rival non-governmental organization Pewaris – which supports the Internal Security Act – have vowed to carry on, setting the stage for a possible clash.

“Although the organisers have said the gatherings and marches would be peaceful, they may still threaten public order,” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar said in a statement issued late on Thursday.

GMI represents more than 83 NGOs, political parties, student bodies, women’s rights groups and human rights organisations. Pewaris represents 12 Malay NGOs.

Supporters of GMI will be wearing either black or red while Pewaris members plan to wear white.

GMI will begin its procession at 2pm from three locations – Sogo shopping complex, Masjid Jamek and Masjid Negara.

Pewaris will start at Pasar Seni, Masjid Negara and Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur before walking to Dataran Merdeka at 2pm.

Both groups are due to march to the Istana Negara, where they plan to hand their respective memorandums to the King. It is during this last part of the march that they may overlap and clash.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat and DAP adviser are expected to join the GMI rally.

SK
31/07/09

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