Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ambiga: Tear gas aftermath, police responsibility

Ambiga: Tear gas aftermath, police responsibility

Author/Source: Hafiz Yatim/Malaysiakini


The April 28 violence erupted when police began firing tear gas at the historic Bersih 3.0 rally participants, said Besih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini  on the Bersih 3.0 rally, she said that she was glad the organisers did not accept the stadium Merdeka offer, as things may have turned differently if that type of incident had occurred there, people would have been trapped.

The lawyer and former Bar Council president said four hours earlier between 10am and prior to the firing of the tear gas in the afternoon, the 250,000-strong crowd had been well behaved.

"In any such public assembly it is the joint responsibility of the government and the organisers. Look we do not have batons and we do not have the means (weapons) to go to the extent the police can.

NONE"As far as we are concerned, we did our best as things were under control until the tear gas.

"Even if the barricades were breached they (police and our volunteers) could have stopped it. However, when the tear gas was fired you cannot hold us responsible.

"What happens after police take action is their responsibility. I am not condoning violence but everything happened after that it is their responsibility. Everything went berserk after that," she said.

She added that police started shooting tear-gas canister after canister all over and continuously as the people were retreating. No warning given, she claimed.

Ambiga said she had earlier issued instructions three times for the crowd to disperse as the organisers felt that they had already achieved their objective and although opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had come-out to talk, we were moving the crowd towards Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

She said as there was a huge turnout, we knew it would take some time for them to depart.

"It was true we wanted to be there until 4pm and there were events lined up, but the crowd was huge.

"It was beyond our expectation as you can see Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman filled (with people wearing yellow t-shirts) and we could not see to the end of the roads.

"I made a judgment call because of the (huge) numbers, I was worried people would start to faint as it was hot, people had been to the event for a long time since 10am, and we had achieved the purpose. I know I am being criticised for that and I accept that," she said.

Independent inquiry necessary

Ambiga said she or the organisers did not lend support to the breaching of the Dataran Merdeka barricades as certain areas were open, giving the crowd the impression that they could go in.

Asked as to their location, Ambiga said they are still gathering more information on this, and for that reason they wanted an independent inquiry.

bersih 3 rally 020512 lma009She said the police were initially all right with the crowd having fun and a wonderful atmosphere with the ages of  the attendees ranging from 20 to 70.

"I told you we control it fine - it is after firing the tear gas - it is their responsibility - I had already asked the crowd to disperse - you should have left them alone and they would have left."

As to conflicting reports over some leaders alleged to have urged the supporters to move forward, she emphasised she had indeed asked them to disperse, and she cannot answer for the leaders.

"When Anwar arrives as he is an elected MP we allow him to talk. If BN MPs were also there, they would also be given an opportunity to talk as Bersih is for everyone, and we cannot stop people from supporting it.

"Anyway as Anwar came, people were not dispersing quickly as we moved towards Batu Road (Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman). Then I saw someone run towards the barrier.

"Police then started firing tear gas. My bodyguard and I then ran towards Masjid India with two other steering committee members and we stayed there for one and a half hours. I heard the beatings done outside," she said.

In yellow ‘we took KL'

Ambiga said if the program had been allowed at Dataran Merdeka, it would have been different.

bersih 3 rally 090512 03 fru at dataran merdeka"I think it would have been fine there would've been no issue. There were standing crowds of Malaysians in yellow at each street, then there is a patch of green representing Dataran - you did'nt give us Dataran - but we took KL," she laughed.

"But there were one patch of green (Dataran) - they (the authorities) were so stubborn in not allowing entry. I am still try to find answers to why we were kept out of Dataran Merdeka."

She also criticised the mainstream media for its misreporting of Bersih that day.

Ambiga said just look at the New Straits Times and TV3 describing it as Bersih riots.

"They did not give the whole story as they showed images of people lifting the police patrol car.

"What happened was the police patrol car had ploughed through the protesters and the public was worried that there could have been someone below the patrol car.

"I guess the agenda is to vilify Bersih as they must have been shocked by the numbers.
"But how do you undermine 250,000 people who were there. They have to change their tactics," she said, adding if you meet people in the streets they would know someone who had gone to the rally.

No basis for comparison

When asked about Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak comparing the Umno 66th anniversary celebrations at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil with Bersih's, Ambiga questioned its basis, pointing out that the police were on their (Umno's) side.

"What is the difficulty (with Umno) as police facilitated those events as compared with ours," she said.

Najib had in his London speech contrasted Umno gathering aspeaceful in contrast to the Bersih rally.

Ambiga said the freedom of assembly issue is that you can go to any public space. 

"The stadium is not freedom of assembly as it is half of what you are entitled to. You go out to the street peacefully and gather.

"Furthermore, Umno had also done this in the past in the street demonstration (with the Malayan Union)," she pointed out

bersih 3 rally 160512 10She said the Bersih rally had raised public awareness as people are tuned into electoral reform, not just locally but also Malaysians abroad.

For her, she said there has been a real shift of the middle ground, as people leading comfortable lives in the comfort of their houses took a stand,

"These people took a stand as they want to see free and fair elections. All of society, they were there that day.

"Everyone, knows someone who went to Bersih. It wasn't just KL as there were numbers in Penang, Johor, Kuantan, Kuching and also worldwide," she said.


The interview was jointly conducted by Hafiz Yatim, Hazlan Zakaria, Lee Way Loon and Abdul Rahim Sabri.

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人民之友 对我国下届大选意见书
(华 巫 英)3种语文已先后贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在今年9月24日对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的“意见书”,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!

这篇意见书的英文译稿(标题是:Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!)已于10月22日张贴在本部落格。马来文译稿(标题是:Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!)也已接着在11月13日在此贴出。

此外,人民之友也将通过电子邮件、微信、WhatsApp等方式,尽可能向全国各民族、各阶层、各行业、各宗教的团体和个人,传送我们的这份“意见书”供参考。我们欢迎跟我们对下届大选的立场和见解一致的团体和个人,将这份“意见书”传送到更多的人手中去!

我们希望,我们在意见书内所表达的对下届大选的立场和观点,能够准确而又广泛地传播到我国各民族、各阶层的人民群众中接受考验,并接受各党派在这次全国大选斗争和今后实践的检验。


Pandangan Sahabat Rakyat terhadap PRU akan datang telah diterbitkan dalam tiga bahasa (Melayu, Cina dan Inggeris)

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! " (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)dalam Bahasa Cina pada 24hb September 2017.

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut yang bertajuk Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”! telah diterbitkan dalam blog kita pada 22hb Oktober 2017 manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu telah diterbitkan pada 13hb November 2017.

Selain daripada itu, Sahabat Rakyat juga akan menyebarkan kenyataan ini seluas mungkin kepada pertubuhan dan individu semua bangsa, strata, profesyen dan agama seluruh Negara melalui email, wechat, whatsApp dan pelbagai saluran lain. Kami amat mengalu-alukan pertubuhan dan individu yang berpendirian dan pandangan sama dengan kami untuk turut menyebarkan kenyataan ini kepada lebih ramai orang!

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun amalan masa depan.


The Chinese, English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election have been published consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, on 24 September 2017, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!” (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)

The English rendition of this statement entitled "Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!" and the Malay rendition entitled "Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!" had been released on 22 October and 13 November respectively.

Apart from that, Sahabat Rakyat will also make every effort to disseminate this statement as widely as possible to organizations and individuals of all ethnic groups, religions and all walks of life throughout the country via email, WeChat, WhatsApp and other channels. We welcome organizations and individuals with the same position and views to spread this statement to more people!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the next General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicity and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the next General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

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