Dec 9, 07 7:29pm
The police today conducted simultaneous arrests in various states of two top opposition leaders and a dozen of others who took part in the Nov 10 Bersih rally.
Prominent PAS leader Mohamad Sabu was arrested in Perak while PKR information chief Tian Chua was arrested in Johor.
When contacted at 4.45pm, Mohamad Sabu’s wife told Malaysiakini that her husband was in the midst of being taken away by the police from Ipoh where he was attending his daughter’s wedding.
Meanwhile, Tian Chua was arrested outside human rights organisation Suaram’s office in Johor Baru at 5.15pm by a police team from Kuala Lumpur.
PAS leader Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi confirmed the arrests of the other Bersih supporters in different states.
The 14 have been arrested under the Police Act for participating in an illegal assembly. Ten of them have been earlier arrested following the rally and released on police bail.
Their bail is to expire on Monday and all those arrested today are expected to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.
It is understood that majority of those detained are members of the marshals unit in opposition party PAS, who had been tasked with traffic control and maintaining crowd discipline during the massive rally.
Today’s crackdown came ahead of another planned gathering on Tuesday where Bersih seeks to hand over a protest memorandum to Parliament.
The polls reform coalition wants the government to withdraw the Constitutional Amendment Bill scheduled to be tabled on that day which, if passed, will see the current Election Commission chairperson’s tenure being extended by a year, to the new age limit of 66.
Ban on rallies
About 40,000 people took to the streets in the Nov 10 Bersih rally to demand for fair and clean elections.
The protesters massed outside the national palace in defiance of a government ban and despite that thousands of police personnel were deployed in and around Kuala Lumpur, bringing traffic to a standstill.
A memorandum was handed to a palace official by a delegation led by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim before the crowd dispersed peacefully.
Although the rally was generally incident-free, the police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water into a crowd near the Masjid Jamek LRT station in the bid to disperse them.
According to reports, 29 were detained at the rally, of whom 24 were released the same day.
The Bersih rally was followed by another mass rally three weeks later where 30,000 supporters of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) poured into the streets of Kuala Lumpur to draw attention to allegations of racial and religious discrimination.
Last week, 31 Hindraf protesters were charged with attempted murder at the Nov 25 rally, while 16 of them were also slapped with an additional charge of taking part in an illegal assembly.
The police action against street protesters continued today with the arrest of eight people, including five lawyers, for taking part in a human rights march in Kuala Lumpur.
In addition, it is also learnt that PKR leader N Gobalakrishnan would be made the 32nd person to be charged with attempted murder at the Shah Alam Sessions Court tomorrow in regards to the Hindraf rally.
Crackdown on Bersih: Mat Sabu, Tian Chua and 12 others nabbed