Malaysia: Police use brutal tactics against peaceful protestors

Amnesty International
11 July 2011

The UK government must press Malaysia’s Prime Minister on freedom of assembly during his visit this week, Amnesty International said today, after peaceful protesters in Kuala Lumpur were met with police violence and 1,667 arrests at the weekend.

Police arrested peaceful demonstrators, fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, and tear gassed a hospital compound on 9 July, in attempts to stop the electoral reform rally known as Bersih 2.0 from gathering in a stadium.

One protester, 56-year-old Baharuddin Ahmad, collapsed near the landmark Petronas Towers while fleeing teargas and was pronounced dead later in hospital.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia Pacific Donna Guest said:

“Prime Minister Najib’s government rode roughshod over thousands of Malaysians exercising their right to peaceful protest.

“This violent repression by the Royal Malaysian Police flies in the face of international human rights standards, and cannot be allowed to continue. Any future peaceful demonstrations should be permitted and respected by the authorities.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Malaysian authorities to investigate claims that police failed to provide prompt assistance to Baharuddin Ahmad before his death, including reports that an ambulance arrived only an hour and a half after he collapsed.

Many protesters were beaten by police and officers of the Federal Reserve Unit, a special force used to suppress mass public assembly. One of the numerous Youtube videos of police violence shows plainclothes officers kicking a protester lying on the ground, while uniformed police stand by.

Police also fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, including members of the parliamentary opposition. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was injured after a canister was fired in his direction, and Khalid Samad, a Pan-Islamic Islamic Party (PAS) member of parliament, was injured after being hit in the neck by a canister.

Tear gas was also fired at a hospital where protesters had retreated, putting the health of patients at risk, although this was denied by the Malaysian police.

Donna Guest added:

“The British government shouldn’t reward this brutality by rolling out a red carpet for Malaysia’s prime minister,” said Donna Guest.

“David Cameron should tell Prime Minister Najib that these human rights violations against peaceful reform protesters are unacceptable.”

Amnesty International is also calling on the Vatican to press Najib to respect human rights when the Malaysian leader visits Rome later this week.

All protesters arrested during the rally have now been released without charge. According to local sources, many of those released bore injuries sustained during arrest.

“The use of force by police at this rally was excessive, unnecessary and designed to instil fear,” said Donna Guest.

Around 40 people arrested in the run-up to the rally still face prosecution. Most have been charged under Section 49 of the Societies Act for possession of illegal materials, including Bersih T-shirts.

Six members of the Socialist Party (PSM) have been indefinitely detained without charge under an Emergency Ordinance since 2 July. One of them, Member of Parliament Dr Jeyakumar Kumar, was hospitalised 10 July for a heart condition following days of prolonged interrogations.

  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 11:15 am

    who is that amar singh? najib and police chief used sikh to go against hindus?

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 11:23 am

    Najib’s premiership skill is in doubt.

  3. #3 by bruno on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 11:29 am

    Since Najib is already in the UK,the British Government has the authority to arrest Najib and his entourtage for war crimes.Attacking hospitals is a warcrime.War criminals have no diplomatic immunity.Just arrest them and hand them over to the International court.Just plain and simple.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 11:33 am

    UMNO get non-Malays (also non-Muslims) to make and take unpopular measures so that UMNO’s is not blamed or implicated for anything. Usual tactic to use non-Muslaims and non-Malays to take the heat. Remember Hardev Kaur and the Christians?

  5. #5 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 11:41 am

    /“The British government shouldn’t reward this brutality by rolling out a red carpet for Malaysia’s prime minister,” said Donna Guest./

    How about rolling out BERSIH YELLOW rug for Najis?Then on official function there will be serving YELLOW jagung juice and YELLOW pineaple curry.Najis will suRE terberak YELLOW tai and pengsan on the spot.Serve him right!

  6. #6 by dcasey on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 2:15 pm

    No worries, don’t we all know our PM is well known to speak a different language when he is overseas. He will tell the British that he is renown to be a moderate muslim and that Amnesty International has misunderstood, what happened over the weekend in Malaysia wasn’t his doing but instead his cousin’s fault.

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