Press Statement, 30 July 2012
Suhakam inquiry into Bersih 3.0: Weekly Summary (23 – 26 July)
The ongoing Suhakam public inquiry into the allegations of human rights violations before, during and after the Bersih 3.0 peaceful assembly on 28 April was initiated on 5 July. A total of 17 witnesses have testified so far and last week (23 to 26 July), the panel heard the testimonies of 9 witnesses.
BERSIH 2.0 wishes to present a summary of the key testimonies of the brave citizens who stepped forward as witnesses. The following are some of the main violations recorded so far:
Seven out of the nine witnesses testified that they were assaulted by police officers and all nine saw other people being assaulted. One witness said that police even demanded entry into the A&W restaurant, which had been locked, and proceeded to assault and arrest those who were inside.
Aside from assaults, police were also seen behaving in highly irregular and unprofessional ways. One witness told the panel that racial slurs were hurled at him by police officers while assaulting him. His gold chain was also “taken” by the police and has still not been returned or acknowledged even though he lodged a police report. Another witness saw a police car speeding through a crowded area with no consideration of the crowd, some of whom were sitting down. Yet another witness reported that the policemen who hit him were in uniform with names but no ID numbers.
INDISCRIMINATE USE OF TEAR GAS
Instead of firing from a safe distance, some police and FRU fired tear gas directly at the crowd in a way that boxed in participants rather than allowing them to disperse. One witness is now left clinically blind due to being hit at close range by a tear gas canister. He is a fresh graduate who has lost his first job due to his condition. Other witnesses testified to the widespread use of teargas in narrow, congested areas from which the crowd had no escape. Earlier in the inquiry, a witness told the panel she was hit by a tear gas canister on her neck, causing her to lose consciousness.
INSUFFICIENT TIME TO DISPERSE
Two witnesses spoke of how they wanted to return home at 4pm but could not as the LRT station was closed. This caused confusion and forced them to sit around amidst the heavy use of tear gas and water cannons, which is when they were assaulted by policemen.
ASSAULTS ON MEDIA PERSONNEL
Three reporters testified that their press tags were ignored by the police who either snatched their cameras, ordered them to stop documenting or even assaulted them. One reporter was also made to pass through the gauntlet (two parallel rows of police lines) where he was punched in his midsection. Police also refused to return his memory card.
Another media personnel was warned by police to not take any pictures and said that a policeman tried to get her camera and kicked her press tag to the side in order to arrest her without her tag. She was further warned by a policeman, “If I see you again, I will arrest you,” when she asked him for directions.
The third reporter told the panel that he was sitting on a sidewalk where he could see the OCPD of Dang Wangi talking to a group of police using a hailer, but he could not hear what they said. However, the group then dispersed and began attacking random protestors.Suddenly, seven or eight police came over and assaulted him even after he shouted “Press! Press!”
INCONSISTENT POLICE BEHAVIOR
Despite the thousands who were allowed to wear yellow shirts, one witness said he was asked to take off his yellow t-shirt and had to go home without a T-shirt.
The inquiry has so far depicted numerous accounts of human rights violations inflicted upon the participants of the Bersih 3.0 “duduk bantah”. The inquiry continues this week, with hearings on 1 and 2 August. With more witnesses to be called, including from among the police, BERSIH 2.0 hopes that the truth will be revealed of what happened on 28 April when 250,000 Malaysians came forward to peacefully demand for clean and fair elections.
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Ambrose, Andrew Khoo, Anne Lasimbang, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah, Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rais, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Matthew Vincent, Niloh Ason, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin