Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS): Police Brutality Should Not Cover Up The Urgency Of Electoral Reform

The PSWS women who participated in the Bersih rally had a good experience with the event until 3 p.m.  Until 3 p.m. the rally was absolutely peaceful and had a good experience even with the police who tried to block off some of the points along Jalan Sultan. When we got to Jalan Tun Perak some of our group was near the old court buildings on Jalan Tun Perak. We could not hear and were not even very sure that Ambiga had spoken and dismissed the rally. After some time we were told to turn back and move off Jalan Tun Perak quickly. The crowd did just that. They turned around and started walking towards the Masjid Jamek train station. Tear gas was shot at this retreating crowd. Many who had their first experience with tear gas were overcome by the gas and panicked and pandemonium broke out. 3 PSWS women went into a restaurant next to Wisma Kraftangan. A lot of the protestors were there and we peacefully were helping one another with the effects of the tear gas. Jalan Tun Perak seemed deserted at that point and yet tear gas was shot repeatedly until the restaurant doors had to be closed. Then the police barged into the restaurant, kicked chairs and some officers began shouting and abusing the people who were sitting quietly there. They asked everyone to go out and we left by the back door. Many of the youth were arrested at that point and herded into a police truck on Jalan Tun Perak. The crowd was trapped on the back street, could not go to the train station or onto Jalan Tun Perak. So we jumped over a low wall into Masjid Jamek. We were only allowed out at around 6 o’clock and even at that point the police gave chase and shot tear gas along Jalan Melayu.
Our comment is that, the police used excessive force on a crowd that was willing to take orders from key Bersih leaders like Ambiga and also the police. Yet police treated the crowd violently and did not worry that such a large crowd would most definately result in injuries when there is panic. We can only conclude this was the intention of many of the policemen who were unleashed upon us. Whatever the governement leaders and their spokespeople in the mainstream media have said does not convince us. The police were unneccessarily violent and did not care if people were going to be hurt. We think the farce of democratic space for demonstrations has been exposed by the actions of the police, and governement leaders. The demands of Bersih 3.0 has been totally been forgotten in this fracas and we reiterate that it is important to remind everyone that electoral reform is urgently needed before the next general election. Let us get back to this and stop the villifying of the Bersih leaders.
with peace,
Suguna Papachan