Suhakam to probe ‘police brutality’ during rally

By MalaysiaKini
Jul 14, 11

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is to hold a public inquiry into allegations of police brutality during last Saturday’s Bersih 2.0 rally in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

However, Suhakam still studying the terms and reference for such an inquiry, which would be made public later, the organisation announced today.

Commissioner Dr Khaw Lake Tee made the announcement at the Suhakam office in Kuala Lumpur after receiving a memorandum from a group of rally participants led by Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah.

“We hope the inquiry can be held as soon as possible but we target the date for during the month of August,” she said to a round of applause from some 30 rally participants.

She said the decision was made in a commission meeting this morning after it received many complaints againts the conduct of the police last Saturday, including the death of Baharudin Ahmad, and the alleged assault on Tung Shin Hospital.

Before the handing-over of the memorandum, a dialogue was held between three commissioners – Khaw, James Nayagam, Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah – and Bersih 2.0 marchers, where four rally participants and a family member of the late Baharudin presented their cases.

They were Azhar Kassim (right), an uncle of Baharudin; Sarawak activist Hii Tiong Huat; Liew Seng Tat, who was allegedly assaulted by police at Tung Shin Hospital, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu (below), who claimed he was rammed by a police vehicle, and a young Indian man who only willing to known as Arun.

Speaking to reporters after the memorandum handing-over, Maria welcomed Suhakam’s swift decision.

“This is a good initiative. We and (human rights NGO) Suaram will compile all the evidence. We have a lot of evidence,” said the activist, who was wearing a yellow scarf.

PKR leaders including vice-president Tian Chua, Selangor exco member Elizabeth Wong, Rawang assemblyperson Gan Pei Nei, youth publicitiy chief Lee Khai Loon and Wanita exco member Chua Yee Ling were also present.

Tian Chua said PKR welcomes the decision and the focus now is on whether the government and police will give their full cooperation to the inquiry.

“The public have all the evidence. Now the key issue is whether the authorities are willing to cooperate or not. If they refuse to participate, they are belittling the entire process of seeking justice and it is a contempt of human rights in this country,” he told Malaysiakini.

Fourth inquiry into police brutality

This will be Suhakam’s fourth public inquiry into allegations of police brutality during public rallies since its inception in 1999. The previous ones are Bandar Mahkota Cheras incident (2008), ‘Bloody Sunday’ at KLCC (2006) and the Kesas Highway incident (2001).

The commission had published a report for each public inquiry detailing recommendations to improve the conduct of police during public rallies, but hardly any of them had been adopted by the police and government.

In the memorandum, Bersih 2.0 highlighted several incidents which it called for an independent and open inquiry by Suhakam.

They include the avoidable death of Baharudin, violent arrest of Mohamad Sabu, unwarranted police attacks at the KL Sentral underpass, violent abuse by police against the participants and indiscriminate shooting of water cannon and tear gas into areas of essential services.

In the KL Sentral underpass where around 100 persons, including key Bersih 2.0 and supporting party leaders gathered, the coalition claimed the police had fired numerous rounds of tear gas canisters into the underpass from various directions, without any negotiation.

“The underpass was an enclosed space which created a dangerous situation for individuals trapped in the space as fumes from the multiple tear gas canisters significantly clouded visibility and caused the people to suffocate,” read the memorandum.

It described the action of police as “excessive, dangerous and potentially fatal”.

The memorandum claimed that video evidence that indicates a police officer ordered the angle of the tear gas guns to be lowered to target directly at the people.

The electoral reform movement also wanted Suhakam to immediately pressure the government to review the Penal Code and Police Act 1967 and remove provisions which have the purpose of removing all restrictions on the constitutional and human rights to peaceful assembly.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Thursday, 14 July 2011 - 11:05 pm

    If the report favors Najib..newspapers will put that as headline news.
    If the report says things against the government…it will be ignored and Malaysians will never read it in papers.

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