Cops fired tear gas directly at demonstrators, witness tells Bersih inquiry

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 11, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Riot police fired tear gas directly at a crowd of peaceful and “non-hostile” Bersih supporters, a witness told a public inquiry into the July 9 protests today.

Lawyer Nor Syazwani Muharam, a Bar Council representative who had monitored the rally, said that the incident occurred along Jalan Masjid Jamek where the police had told Bersih supporters to disperse and rang a warning bell three times.

“I did not see any violence by the Bersih supporters. There was no hostility from the public, I did not see any provocation from them,” she told the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry here.

Nor Syazwani said the crowd was about “one block” away from the riot police before tear gas was fired directly at them.

“Police fired directly towards the crowd,” she said.

The inquiry has set itself three terms of references — to identify human rights violations on or before July 9, to determine how the violations occurred, the process and agency involved and to make recommendations to prevent any recurrence.

The inquiry is led by Suhakam vice-chairman Professor Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee, commissioners Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen.

The Bar Council is represented by Roger Chan and Richard Wee, while the police are represented by ASP N. Rajagopal and ASP Lim Chee Wah.

Asked by Chan whether there were any human rights violations on that day, Nor Syazwani said “yes.”

“The one that I saw myself, the shooting of tear gas straight into the crowd.”

She also said that there were no other human rights violations, and admitted that she was not familiar with police procedures during a rally as this was the first time she had monitored such an event.

The inquiry resumes on November 15.

  1. #1 by cintanegara on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 8:37 pm

    Rakyats also want to know… why is DAP going easy on Lim Guan Eng when it temporarily suspended M. Manogaran ?

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 9:44 pm

    There is a ‘good’ bad and a ‘bad’ bad. There’s a difference.

  3. #3 by bruno on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 10:34 pm

    Even a preschool child,if shown the video would tell us that the cops,not only shoot the tear gas directly at the protesters.They shot them directly at the protesters with intent to caused serious injury.

  4. #4 by bruno on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 10:44 pm

    What about the protesters who were manhandled.Thrown to the ground,batoned,punched and kicked.These protesters were treated worse than terrorists.Just imagined what if our riot police were put in situations,as to what happened in protests and demonstrations in Greece or London.They would have opened fire on the rowdy crowds.Just imagined what the end results would have been.Disastrous.

  5. #5 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 11:14 pm

    I remember the KL Police chief and the Minister said the demonstrators were treated ‘with minimal force’ and ‘with care’ They were also given free makan and drinks later.

    So we have two extreme versions.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 11:32 pm

    This Human Rights violation vis-à-vis police action in public assembly poses interesting questions. There are 2 issues, the first is whether the public rally should be allowed or otherwise by law deemed an illegal assembly. This bears on the question whether authorities are democratic or authoritarian and repressive. The second separate question is, assuming that assembly is unlawful, what kind of action can police legitimately do to disperse the assembly that is not considered in violation of human rights? Gentle persuasion of a few thousand protestors? Any ideas? It appears that the shooting of tear gas alone is not contravening human rights. Why even in the United States, so called bastion of democracy police shot tear gas at the protesters in the Wall street demonstrations. The police went further to put up orange nets and tried to kettle and herd protesters like as if they were cattles within the nets to handcuff them. In Israel they shoot rubber bullets a well.

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 - 11:33 pm

    According to Amnesty International only “firing tear gas into a confined space is contrary to international human rights standards on the use of force by law enforcement because of the danger posed to those exposed.” This is because tear gas can be lethal if used in confined spaces. It can also cause people to panic and stampede, which is often where the most serious injuries and fatalities occur! This means if one fires tear gas high up in the air in the open streets it’s Ok but what if the canister then falls from the sky and hits/injures protestors??? In Bersih’s case the shooting of tear gas straight into the crowd was human right violation because the probable and foreseeable result of that action was to cause injury of the protestors. The line drawn for human rights violation appears to be injury. The police could use tear gas to disperse the protestors, they could also arrest them but they are not supposed to either deliberately injure them or act in a manner so reckless as to be indifferent whether the protestors would be injured by their action.

  8. #8 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 - 7:37 am

    The rakyat also want to know when johor state and the police going to apologize to the rakyat for insecurity there. So cintamyfoot, every person up to the northern parts of the Semenanjung also know Johor is not safe. Not only lge. We called it cowboy town.

  9. #9 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 - 1:30 pm

    Polis UNDER order 2 fire tear gas n shoot water cannon at d peaceful rakyat
    Now polis kena blamed n punished, scapegoats lah, meeeah; where’s moooo

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