Bar report shows police waged war against Bersih, says Pakatan

By Shannon Teoh
July 13, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have accused the police of attacking protestors at Saturday’s Bersih rally “as if we were terrorists” following the Bar Council’s report that the police had fired water cannons and tear gas canisters in a manner suggesting an intention to inflict injury.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution told The Malaysian Insider that it was ironic that in the week leading up to the July 9 march for free and fair elections, the police had arrested Parti Sosialis members for waging war on the Agong.

“On Saturday, the police were waging war against us,” the Machang MP said.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang also said that the Bersih gathering had witnessed “regime policing from the colonial era, protecting the ruling regime from the public.”

“We were treated as if we were criminals or terrorists endangering national security,” the Ipoh Timur MP told The Malaysian Insider.

The Bar Council had placed monitors around the capital on Saturday who found that the police had “arbitrarily, indiscriminately and excessively” fired water cannons and launched tear gas canisters at close range and at eye-level at supporters of the electoral reform group.

The lawyers said that despite only isolated cases of protestors fighting back against them, the police had not been keen to negotiate with protestors. There were also reported incidents near Kompleks Dayabumi and Puduraya where protestors found themselves with no escape route as tear gas canisters were fired at them from both ends.

Bersih and PR leaders who had assembled in KL Sentral before attempting to march to Stadium Merdeka were trapped in a tunnel after the police fired tear gas from both ends after which Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his bodyguard had to be hospitalised.

Saifuddin added that the police had a “clear strategy to stop our leaders with rough tactics and have them cut off from protestors.”

“They zero-ed in on Pakatan and Bersih leaders to leave the rest headless,” he said, adding that the lack of negotiations showed that the police were more interested in confronting the tens of thousands who poured into the city, rather than dispersing them.

Besides Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, the police also arrested several PR leaders, including PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and his deputy Mohamad Sabu, who also claimed he was rammed off his motorbike by a police vehicle.

Bersih had gone ahead with Saturday’s rally despite being denied police permission, plunging Kuala Lumpur into chaos as tens of thousands poured into the city, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of a PKR division leader’s husband.

The coalition of 62 NGOs had earlier agreed to an offer by Najib to move its street gathering to a stadium but was then told by authorities not to gather in the capital, ruling out its choice of the historical Stadium Merdeka.

Saifuddin also pointed out that one of the largest groups on Saturday was led by PKR vice president Datuk Chua Jui Meng and PAS central committee member Hatta Ramli “who were allowed to hold speeches for half an hour and then disperse peacefully.”

“We don’t deny that there were some good officers who allowed this but there was no damage to property, no vehicles or flowerpots broken, so why the need to open fire?” he added.

  1. #1 by dagen on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 5:56 pm

    What the heck are the water cannon and tear gas for? To disperse crowds. That is obvious. But what did umno police do? The police cornered the crowd and surrounded them on either sides so that the people in the crowd have no where to run. This is clearly designed to trapped them. When trapped, the police then shot tear gas cannisters directly at them. The idea here is to inflict maximum fear and pain so that those affected would never ever participate in public rallies again.

    Hey umno, I think you forgot something. We are now in the era of reality tv shows.

  2. #2 by rahmanwang on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Ok come GE13 we will sack BN from office.

  3. #3 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 10:13 pm

    Must Bersih the corrupted election for freer and fairer election first.Then Bersih government would form eventually which is PR the most likely one.Keep Bersih going to the point where monsterball with the most powerful torch leading us away from the eerily darkness alley to the brighter future tomorrow.Yo man.

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