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Friday, May 11, 2012
Bar EGM denounces police brutality at Bersih 3.0
UPDATED @ 11:04:46 PM 11-05-2012
By Clara Chooi
May 11, 2012
Lim gestures towards pictures of the Bersih 3.0 rally on a
screen, during a press conference in Kuala
Lumpur May 1, 2012. — Picture by Jack Ooi
KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — The Malaysian Bar has approved
a resolution condemning the police for using “excessive” and “indiscriminate”
force to disperse Bersih 3.0 protesters on April 28, despite objections raised
by a minority group of lawyers at today’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM).
resolution, passed by way of voting this evening, also demands apologies from
the home minister and Inspector-General of Police to the public and members of
the media over the conduct of the police during the rally.
to Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, only 16 of the 1,270 Malaysian Bar
members in attendance today had opposed the resolution, which contained
findings of alleged police brutality against protesters and members of the
total of 939 votes were recorded in support of the resolution. There are some
14,000 members in the Malaysian Bar.
today’s high turnout at the EGM, which exceeded the turnout of some 800 members
during the Bar’s annual general meeting (AGM) in March, Lim said it was clear
that members viewed the events surrounding Bersih 3.0 seriously.
fact is, there was widespread reports of police brutality and excessive,
disproportionate use of tear gas and water cannons in KL, which only started
after the alleged reported breach of the barricades at Dataran Merdeka after
3pm... prior to which, there was a carnival-like atmosphere,” he told a press
conference after the three-hour EGM.
referring to a report by the Bar Council’s team of 78 monitors for the rally,
said unlike the chaos during Bersih 3.0 in Kuala Lumpur,
other concurrent rallies held in Kuantan, Johor Bahru, Malacca and Ipoh had seen the police
acting with restraint.
he said, the police had failed to offer sufficient warning to protesters before
moving to disperse them. The police are also said to have boxed in protesters by
sealing off escape routes, instead of offering them sufficient time to
said the estimated 100,000-strong crowd that thronged numerous streets in the
heart of Kuala Lumpur
on April 28 had not been allowed enough room to disperse as volleys of tear gas
canisters and chemical-laced water rained down on them even as they attempted
begs the simple question: Why has the police not read or implemented the
findings and recommendations of Suhakam (Malaysian Human Rights Commission)?”
he asked, referring to four past investigations conducted by the panel on
also insisted that the jeering or insults allegedly hurled by protesters at
policemen on duty during Bersih 3.0 did not justify the force with which the
latter group retaliated.
pointed out that protesters were unarmed and that the burden of ensuring crowd
control lies in the hands of those who are armed, namely the police. Restraint,
he said, must be maintained at all costs.
calling the police ‘sampah’ (rubbish) or ‘anjing’ (dog) justify the firing of
tear gas or water cannons? Let us not forget this — the police have the
responsibility, the powers and the weapons. Malaysians do not,” he said.
noted that debates during today’s EGM had been robust as a number of lawyers in
attendance had stood to express opposing views.
he stressed, the resolution was later supported by “an overwhelming majority”,
indicating that the Bar was unified in its stand on Bersih 3.0.
others, the resolution condemns the “excessive, indiscriminate and wrongful”
use of tear gas and water cannons against protesters, failure of the police to
allow rally participants time to disperse and widespread reports of police
brutality against protesters and media professionals.
members also asked the president (Lim) to highlight to the media that the
arrest, assault and confiscation of the equipment of the media are condemned by
the Bar. This must never happen
it is most unfortunate the mainstream media, had not given balanced reporting,”
EGM was called to discuss the slew of issues surrounding the rally for free and
fair elections, which saw chaos on the streets of the capital when police fired
tear gas and chemical-laced water to disperse protesters.
to a notice issued on the Malaysian Bar’s official website on May 4, the EGM
was called to discuss a motion “in relation to the events of and surrounding
the public rally on 28 April 2012 organised by Bersih 3.0, and matters in
Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently labelled the demonstration as an
attempt by certain quarters to overthrow the elected Barisan Nasional (BN)
government, as he hardened his administration’s position towards the electoral
previously said that the Bar’s monitoring team had found more instances of
police brutality compared to last year’s July 9 Bersih event.
also said the authorities failed to take heed of criticism and recommendations
outlined by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) with regards to
police conduct during Bersih’s first two rallies, and lamented on how “little