Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cops attacked A&W patrons during Bersih chaos, Suhakam panel told

July 25, 2012
Police officers detain a participant at the Bersih rally, in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012.—File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 ― Policemen stormed into an A&W fast-food outlet last April 28 and attacked Bersih supporters having their meals there, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) was told today.
Karam Singh Charan Singh, 50, a tourist guide from Kampar, alleged that he and others were attacked by a group of policemen while having drinks at an A&W restaurant in Jalan Tun Perak after attending the rally.
“The policemen flashed their authority cards and ordered the restaurant staff to open the door. I told the staff not to do so but the staff ignored my pleas and let the police in.
“The policemen immediately charged towards my table and ordered my friend and I to remove our yellow T-shirts. One policeman tried to punch me but his punch only [grazed] me lightly,” Karam said.
He told the panel the policemen had verbally abused him and other customers in the restaurant for trying to defend them.
“Ninety per cent of customers in the restaurant were participants. A policeman shouted that we deserved to be treated like that, alleging that a police officer had been killed by some fellow demonstrators.
“The police called us pesky beings, hit another man and shouted at two young girls for just asking them to go away,” he said.
Karam later said he heard rumours that a policeman and two Bersih demonstrators had been killed that day.
He also told the panel and observers he did not make a police report about the assault in the restaurant.
“I had lost my confidence towards the police force after witnessing their [behaviour] and feared that they might attack me if I made a complaint against them.
“I was not physically injured but was embarrassed with the whole incident,” he said.
He added that earlier that day, the mood at the rally had been festive prior to the firing of tear gas but turned chaotic after the police began charging at demonstrators.
The inquiry, which began on July 5, is aimed at determining whether any violations of human rights were committed against any person or party during and after the gathering.
The inquiry panel led by Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee and aided by commissioners Professor Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen will be interviewing some 22 witnesses over a period of 22 days.
The inquiry continues on July 26.

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