Monday, 10 November 2008

Police disperse Bersih rally, arrest 24 - Malaysiakini

Police dispersed a crowd of about 300 people gathered at a field opposite the Amcorp Mall here on Sunday night to mark the first anniversary of the Bersih rally, arresting 24 people as well.

The rally was to commemorate the march last November that called for a free and fair general election.

Among those arrested were PJ Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua,Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Lau Weng San, MBPJ counsellor Tiew Fei Chin and a videographer from the Malaysiakini news portal.

Police disperse crowd, 24 arrested

By Malaysiakini Team

Riot police today dispersed about 300 people who had gathered at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre.

The police moved into the crowd just as they were singing the national anthem and getting ready to leave.

The crowd had walked over to the PJ Civic Centre shortly after 9.30pm after they had been originally dispersed from the Padang Timur, about a kilometre away, where they had gathered to take part in a candlelight vigil.

Just as the crowd started re-gathering at the Civic Centre, a team of anti-riot squad and a water cannon truck arrived.

Shortly afterwards the police started dispersing the crowd using their shields.

In the ensuing melee, police arrested PJ Utara member of parliament and DAP leader Tony Pua, Kampung Tunku state representative Lau Weng San and 22 others. Also arrested was Malaysiakini videographer Shukri Mohamad.

"I was shooting the water cannon truck when a policeman told me to stop that. He ordered me to hand over the camera and tape. I turned and walked away when I was arrested," Shukri said when contacted.

Eyewitnesses said that Pua was taken into a waiting Black Maria.

The police were also seen chasing the crowd into an Indian restaurant located opposite the Civic Centre. Those arrested have been taken to the Petaling Jaya police station.

A small group of people have gathered outside in support of those arrested under the watchful eyes of a team of police anti-riot squad.

Candlelight vigil called off

Earlier, at about 9.35pm, a candlelight vigil organised by polls reform group Bersih was hampered by police insistence on the gathered crowd to disperse.

The vigil was to have started at 9.30pm at Padang Timur opposite Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya.

However, the police had started blocking the roads leading to the venue as early as 7pm. And as the scheduled 9.30pm approached, the police urged the gathered crowd in the field to disperse.

The crowd had then moved into the nearby Amcorp mall.

Among those in the crowd were recently court-released ISA detainee Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu and DAP leaders Lau Weng San and Pua.

At about 9.30pm, the organisers told the crowd to disperse to avoid any trouble with the police. Some of those in the crowd then decided to hold a mini-procession from the field to the PJ Civic Centre, about a kilometre away.

Roads blocked

Eyewitnesses told Malaysiakini that roads leading to the PJ field have earlier been blocked by the police from about 7pm.

Some have complained that the roadblocks had stopped them from going to a wellknown fast-food outlet in the vicinity.

Many had to park their vehicles in PJ new town - some two-kilometres away -to walk to the field to take part in the vigil. At about 8pm, eye-witnesses said that about 100 people had gathered at the venue.

The police meanwhile had began asking the crowd to leave the place. By 8.30pm - with only an hour away from the planned vigil - the police managed to turn away most of the people from the field.

The crowd, which had by then grew to about 200, moved closer to the Amcorp mall, waiting for the organisers to start the vigil.

No water cannons

At the same time, about 20 federal reserve unit personnel took position just outside the shopping mall. The planned candlelight vigil scheduled at 9.30 did not take place.

Tonight's vigil was to have featured speakers from both civil society groups and political parties.


ChengHo said...

The police must take decisive action for public security . Rakyat is tired with candle virgil ,demo,demo,etc . Malaysia is facing bigger problem with world economic slowdown some people have time for demo,demo.etc
Malaysia is becoming like Jakarta you can get a pro demonstraters to do the job.

Lee said...

There is nothing wrong to hold a candlelight vigil.This is just an effective way for the peoples to express themselves.The police should be ashamed of themselves for their brutality.I hope the candlelight vigils will go on.The present home minister has proven himself to be not only incompetent but, as YB Kit said, a liar!