What turned out to be a double celebration: celebrating the anniversary of the Bersih rally and together with the candlelight vigil turned bloody in the second-half of the event as 24 men and women were arrested at the Civic Centre in Petaling Jaya. The term Bloody Sunday was mentioned twice in history, one in 1972 where 26 civil rights protesters were shot in Derry. Another reference to the name was in St Petersburg 1905 where protesters were shot as they intended to submit the petition to Tsar Nicholas II.
I was there with a few friends and guys and was covering both halves of the event, but the aftermath of the second half was so bloody that a some of them were brutally beaten by the FRU.
At Amcorp Mall
All roads leading to Amcorp Mall were sealed off by the police before event time at 9.30 p.m. This time, the federal police was involved in the operation given that the event involves BERSIH, the NGO coalition that calls for clean and fairer elections. However, there were two routes that were not covered: the back way going through Nestle office in Persiaran Barat and the small road leading to the court house.
The FRU men were on Standby mode at the outdoor parking ground while most of the people who wish to attend the event were either at inside Amcorp Mall or at the A&W restaurant. Given that the situation that seems to show police intimidation, the event was shortened by approximately five minutes. Note that there at least 15 Special Branch people around there with the blue-uniform and the FRU. The reason of shortening the thing in Amcorp is not to give excuses for the police to act before the mall closes at 10 p.m. Any such violent and brutal action at a private property warrants a lawsuit / complaint by the owner against the government.
Earlier on, the commanding officer was heard shouting at the bullhorn, "We will take action" (or somewhat) The event at Amcorp Mall wrapped up at 9.35 after a singing of the National Anthem. After that, everyone is asked to dispersed in groups of two. Some left while some went towards the Civic Centre for another vigil.
At MBPJ Civic Centre
Another round of gathering took place there after that where special guests there include Ronnie Liu, Tony Pua (also present at Amcorp Mall), Mat Sabu, Bersih secretary Faizal Mustaffa and Raja Petra Kamaruddin who has been asked to give a word or two following his release from ISA three days ago.
After Ronnie gave a speech of proposal of reinstatement of local government elections, Raja Petra was invited to give a few words before leaving. At that time, three trucks of FRUs, Special Branch people and the blue-uniform were standing by - moving their positions from Amcorp Mall and stood at the sidewalk of the main road. By the time they were fully mobilized everyone was singing again Negaraku. Apparently the police snapped upon hearing the song the second time.
Ronnie tried to approach the police to inform them of that they would have another five more minutes before dispersing. Before he could do so, the FRU started coming in as if being the Roman Legions and the OCPs screaming rudely at the crowd. I was standing there, thinking that the FRU would simply beat a person like me with their batons, but they moved past me and Pete and went after the others behind me.
And that's where the beatings and arrests started. The first two arrests made were Indians. The police are targetting those who are Indians and those who wear yellow shirts first before going after the others.
Calmly I walked briskly out of the place and when crossing the main road, Augustine, my friend (moving behind me, about to leave) was jumped by a Special Branch man, overpowered and was arrested. I could not stop anymore or do anything but to keep moving and tag after Pete, Marina and Serena who's ahead of me. I broke out the bad news of Augustine caught to the others.
Brutal Beatings and Arrests
At a break session, we were establishing the number of people arrested and their identities as well as the discussion of the brutal assaults that the FRU went against unarmed ordinary citizens.
We established that 24 were arrested. Angela Ooi, the girl actively in the anti-ISA vigil in Seremban was one of them, Augustine, Arif Abdull - a fellow blogger, the priest Father Paulino from the Mercy church in Shah Alam. We thought Ronnie was also arrested. He was released immediately becuase the police apparently saw him trying to approach them to request for time before dispersing.
Tony was dragged by Special Branch into the Black Maria truck. Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San was assaulted by a special Branch man whom he managed to identify, but the man responsible was rude, refused to reveal his identity. Some of the organizing team for the vigil in Penang including were arrested as well.
The first two arrests were premeditated. Two Indians were arrested. This could allow the police to give a context that HINDRAF, the banned organization being involved in this event. Chris' friend, Dian was dragged behind and fell down, her son arrested and her husband dragged by the Special Branch. The bleeding was so profuse that she was taken to the Assunta hospital, requiring 4 stitches. Another woman, while attempting to run away from the melee, struck her head onto a pot plant, head bleeding profusely.
The Malaysiakini videographer, who was there to record the event was also arrested. He also recorded RPK's word or two at the Civic Centre before he was taken away. A concern out of this is that Pete could be called in tomorrow or so to provide an explaination his appearance on video. This could possibly give a further reason for the government to appeal agains the ruling of Pete's release.
Excerpt from Malaysiakini:
Shortly afterwards the police started dispersing the crowd using their shields.
In the ensuing melee, police arrested PJ Utara member of parliament and DAP leader Tony Pua, Kampung Tunku state representative Lau Weng San and about 20 others. Also arrested was Malaysiakini videographer Shukri Mohamad.
Eyewitnesses said that Pua was physically manhandled and thrown into a waiting Black Maria. The police were also seen chasing the crowd into an Indian restaurant located opposite the Civic Centre.
Angela, who was arrested, had a cut on the nose when she was arrested. At the end of the night, I was told that many were brutalized by the FRU and Special Branch before they were arrested.
Serena received an SMS from Augustine, assuring her that he was fine and asked her to go back to the Wharf.
Scenes at the Police Station
Following the arrest, Malik Imtiaz, and 15 Bar Council members led by Edmund Bon started coming to the police station. Later, the MPs including Loh Gwo Burne and Lim Kit Siang started coming in front of the station. They were not allowed to go in until all the 24 detainees were processed. The FRU was once again called to mobilize for crowd control.
It is highly probable that the 24 detainees would be charged under Section 27(5). However, word has it from Tony is that the police could be obtaining a court remand order to have them remand overnight. At 3 a.m, the lawyers were allowed in for the observation. It seems that most of the detainees are told to leave out answering interrogation, which forms part of the possibility of remand order. BERSIH led a vigil outside the station. No tear gas was fired as initially feared.
The police could provide too many excuses and adamanting on having a person arrested including resisting arrest for refusal to answer interrogation, HINDRAF - for Indian presence or wearing the orange T-Shirt and etc..
The blood is now on Khalid Bakar's hands.
Musings on Bloody Sunday
1. The one key observation is that the National Anthem song seems to make the police snapped. This happened when someone in the FRU were shouting when the people were singing the anthem at Amcorp Mall. The second time the song was sung, they snapped and started charging into the crowd.
2. During the charging into the crowd thing, the police have forgotten to follow the basic rules of engagement which is to provide ample warnings of dispersal. Since the gathering is in two spots, the police must informed them, provide 5-15 minutes to disperse before the next action. In this case, there was no warning given, and they simply go in.
3. The police were simply rude and normal people are considered as lowlife and very dangerous. Bringing an FRU squad against people who do not carry anything but candles? The entire thing is to fueling fuel with fire. A deliberate intention by the BN government to provoke people so that they can use the Solution 1969 again.
4. There will be a shouting match in the Parliament tomorrow with the government, Police and UMNO accused for this matter. Currently we are trying to find out who actually gave the order. It could be an out-of-control OCPD, Khalid Bakar himself or a minister. In that case, Syed Albar is going to get grilled badly tomorrow though my feeling is on Najib.
5. Over the last six hours, much of the coverage can be seen at Anil's blog. This is far in contrast to the Ipoh vigil, which ended peacefully and with the same amount of people present in P.J.
6. This finally proves that the Icke Theorem is true, Malaysia is adopting the prescription of the Bush style of United States.
Do watch this space later on as I include more pics from last night.
Update: 9.55 p.m: Here are some additional pics from the event:
I somehow must admit that I salute this woman who brings her child out for this vigil. I think it is a good step as to get children understand the full truths of the modern Malaysian history, not the ones that we learn in schools which are UMNO-approved ones.