Six petitioners nabbed on leaving Parliament

Dec 11, 07 1:42pm

All six activists from the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) detained earlier this afternoon at the Parliament car park have been released by the police – with an apology to boot.

Pusat Komas programme director Mien Lor, when contacted, said the group was allowed to leave the Kuala Lumpur contingent police headquarters at 4pm, after being held there for two hours.
Apart from Mien, those released were Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng, Centre for Independent Journalism executive director V Gayathry, Writers Alliance for Media Independence chairperson Wong Chin Huat, PAS Research Centre director Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad and Harakah advertising manager Mokhtar Rosaidi.
“The police recorded our particulars but did not take a statement from us, and we are not going to be charged. We were released with no conditions attached,” she said by telephone.
“They police treated us well and even apologised for their ‘mistake’. They said they were acting on orders from people above (but did not explain what the ‘mistake’ was).”
The activists were earlier seen being taken away by about five plainclothes police officers while leaving Parliament House after handing the Bersih memorandum to opposition Parliamentarians, to be given to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Yesterday, police had obtained a restraining order to prevent named individuals and others from being in the vicinity of the Parliament building. Of those arrested this morning, PKR secretary-general Khalid Ibrahim and PAS election director Mustapha Ali have also been released, according to Mien.
This followed Bersih’s stated intention to submit a protest memorandum against a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the Election Commission chief’s retirement age to 66.
Bersih is a grouping of 67 non-governmental organisations and five opposition parties seeking electoral reform. On Nov 10, it organised a mass rally in Kuala Lumpur that drew 40,000 protestors who braved tear gas and water cannon to submit a memorandum to the King’s representative.