9th July 2011
Malaysians Rise Up For Democracy despite Police Brutality
Tenaganita salutes the rakyat, who despite immense harassment and grave obstacles placed by the police and the Home Ministry, and the irrational lockdown of Kuala Lumpur, still came in tens of thousands to demand for fair, clean and free elections.
With tremendous pride & joy, we congratulate Malaysians for their stand on democracy. Malaysians today have shown that they are no longer afraid to assert their rights.
The people remained focused and they marched peacefully despite the excessive use of tear gas, chemically-laced water, arrests, batons and beatings. With no uncertain terms, Tenaganita strongly condemns these extreme forms of human rights violations and the violence demonstrated by the police against ordinary Malaysians.
The Malaysian government’s refusal to acknowledge and take responsibility for police brutality is a clear sign of a failing democracy. It is therefore even more urgent that the eight immediate demands of BERSIH 2.0 are implemented without delay.
We especially condemn the actions of the riot police who fired tear gas into the compounds of Tung Shin Hospital and are appalled by the apparent denial by the Inspector-General of Police that this did not happen. Several Tenaganita staff, including the Executive Director, took shelter with hundreds of other Malaysians in the compound of this Hospital, and witnessed this first-hand as teargas was fired at us. We also watched as riot police personnel and trucks sealed off entrances and exits of the hospital, thereby preventing us from leaving. We are also appalled by the actions of baton-wielding police officers who stormed the grounds of Chinese Maternity Hospital and used excessive force to arrest peaceful demonstrators.
In the face of this ugly abuse of power, Tenaganita extends its heartfelt gratitude to the staff of Tung Shin Hospital and the Chinese Maternity Hospital for their cooperation in allowing the participants of this gathering to seek temporary shelter on their grounds. We appreciate this support shown towards their fellow countrypersons.
We call for the immediate release of the over 1600 Malaysians who were arrested for the ‘crime’ of asserting their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble peacefully. Tenaganita has received alarming reports that Malaysians arrested at the rally today have not been given access to counsel at several holding centres. We remind the authorities that the right to counsel is constitutionally guaranteed.
While tens of thousands marched today, we are also painfully aware that our brothers and sisters from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) remain in detention under Malaysia’s draconian laws. We call on all parties to intensify the pressure on the Malaysian government to rectify this grave injustice and to immediately release the PSM 6.
The authorities can fire all the teargas they want and they can throw our bodies behind bars, but although our eyes may temporarily shut to the sting of the gas, and our faces remain hidden behind walls of repression, make no mistake that the eyes and minds of Malaysians are increasingly clear and vigilant in our demands for clean, fair and free elections.
Dr. Irene Fernandez
Executive Director, Tenaganita.