IGP’s Statement Misleading to Undermine People’s Power

Monday, 12 November 2007
Suaram regrets the misleading statement by the Inspector General of Police, Musa Hassan that the BERSIH rally was attended by only 4,000 people but the police arrested 245 people. The IGP no doubt needs an eye-checkup.

CNN estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people participated the march while AFP and Al-Jazeera reported that the organizers claimed at least 30,000 people attended the rally. The organizers gave figures ranging from 50,000 to 100,000.
Anyone who was present or has seen the photographs or video clips of the rally crowd will have no doubt that the rally was participated by no less than 50,000, to put it conservatively.
If the rally only attended by 4,000 people, why the police need to deploy 4,000 police personal armed with baton, shields, water canon and tear gas canisters and set up so many road blocks in all the major roads, including inter-city highways to handle such a small rally? Clearly, the IGP is lying.
The lie of IGP also puts his figure of detainees questionable and highly suspicious. Suaram has documented only 34 people arrested at the rally as compared to the 245 claimed by the IGP. The whole rally has been very peaceful and the protestors were highly disciplined and restraint.
We question the grounds the police used to arrest the 34 people when their right to freedom of peaceful assembly has been violated in the first place, and the use of unwarranted and excessive force such as chemically-laced water and tear-gas at peaceful and unarmed demonstrators.
There are also disturbing reports that journalists, both local and international, were assaulted at the vicinity of Masjid Jamek. This warrants an investigation and Suaram calls for the immediate suspension of the Kuala Lumpur Police Chief, pending the conclusion of this investigation.
We further call on the IGP to explain how he comes to the 245 figures, where and on what ground they were arrested. Suaram calls on the 245 arrestees, if what the IGP claimed is true, to report their cases to Suaram for verification.
Suaram believes the IGP has distorted the figures to justify the government earlier claims and warnings before the rally that public assembly will lead to social chaos and violence. The rally on Saturday is another huge peaceful rally and has proven the government propaganda to be false and malicious in order to undermine the people’s power.
It was also clearly made to save the face of the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the IGP himself who threatened before the rally that stern action would be taken against public members participated in the rally.
The large numbers of people who turned out on Saturday overwhelmed the police force. It was not the police who maintained order on Saturday, but the organizers who kept the event orderly, disciplined and peaceful.
Yap Swee Seng
Executive Director