Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Gandhi-inspired mass civil disobedience (Malaysiakini)

Yet again the Malaysian Government under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Malaysian police have embarassed MALAYSIA and Malaysians - by their display of intolerance and unreasonableness - and a blatant disrespect for human rights.

Their intolerance to peoples' rights of assembly and expression, and the use of unnecessary "violence" - in the form of tear gas and water cannons on ordinary un-armed non-violent Malaysians is SHAMEFUL. (Hopefully this time there will be no Minister or Human Rights Commissioner coming out and proclaiming that there was no violence on the part of the police)

It is said that about 400 persons have been arrested - another embarassment.

Who can now not say that the Malaysian government (and its police force) is not just like the Burmese government and its police force?

Malaysian government likes to campaign for PEACE and UNITY - and it is the peace of docile lambs that they want. It is the UNITY of wearing "Unity Bands" and singing "Unity Songs". But Malaysians are waking-up from their slumber and are no more FOOLS.

Now what we want is human rights and JUSTICE - and that is first. We want PEACE and UNITY but a peace and unity, which has as its foundation Justice and Human Rights and FREEDOM.


(tomorrow's papers - we wonder what it will say or maybe there will be no report about any protest in Kuala Lumpur...or maybe it will be in page 2_...)

A Gandhi-inspired mass civil disobedience
Andrew Ong
Nov 25, 07 5:38pm

Hindraf legal advisor P Uthayakumar, has declared the movement’s rally today “a success” despite not being able to hand a petition to the British High Commission.

In addressing one of the last large group of Hindraf supporters to disperse from the rally, Uthayakumar, who is Hindraf’s most recognisable face, said the Indians had succeeded in sending their message regardless of the status of the petition.

“Despite the police attempts to torture us, we still manage to gather peacefully as united Indians. We have succeeded, the police have failed,” he told a crowd of nearly 2,000 supporters who clap and cheered whenever he finished a sentence.

Tear gas and chemical-laced water were fired on Hindraf supporters who defied police orders to disperse from the banned rally for nearly six hours.

Crowds comprising of Indians from all over the country have gathered today in support of a class-action suit against the British government for bringing the Indians here as indentured labourers.

Many observers have noted that the petition part of a new movement aimed at empowering the Indian community - the third largest yet among the poorest ethnic groups in Malaysia – in giving a voice to their discontent.

Emulating Gandhi

Numerous Hindraf supporters wore saffron headband or T-shirts. Dozens more were wearing a portrait of Indian independence activist and pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi.

Like Gandhi, the Hindraf supporters were out to show mass civil disobedience and it was prominently shown by a crowd of almost 5,000 near the Hotel Maya at Jalan Ampang.

For at least five times, the crowd would run helter-skelter at each ‘water canon charge’, only to defiantly claim back their original positions, chanting “We want justice!” in both Tamil and English.

A Tamachelvy, from Klang, told Malaysiakini that she, along with her 60-year-old father, attended this rally after hearing about the spate of Hindu temple demolitions.

“We felt very hurt after watching VCDs about how the government would destroy our temples. We are Malaysians but our government treats us like foreigners,” she said.

Tamachelvy, like many other Hindraf supporters, said that the government ban on the rally was unjust, as they have limited means to collectively voice their grievances.

IGP: Police exercise restraint

Meanwhile, in some instances the police appeared to exercise their duties with obvious signs of restraint, when compared to the many past brutal crackdowns on public dissent.

At about 8am today, police issued repeated warnings to a group of roughly 2,000 Hindraf supporters who had gathered near Plaza Ampang along Jalan Tun Razak, a stone’s throw away from the British High Commission.

Each of these warnings went unheeded, resulting in the crowd being showered twice with water.

But when a third warning was ignored as well, the police fired streams of chemical-laced water at the protestors - many of them seated - before sending in plainclothes police personnel to arrest several dozen Hindraf supporters.

There were several reports of police personnel beating Hindraf supporters.

In addition, tear gas were liberally used by the police and often with prior warning given.

However, inspector-general of police Musa Hassan told Al Jazeera in a live telephone interview that the police had exercise restraint in controlling the crowd.

“We were restraining ourselves not to use force. There was no body contact,” said Musa, who was heavily rumoured to have overseen police operations in a helicopter.

More than 400 detained

It is believed that the police - a Muslim-Malay majority outfit - had intentionally restrained themselves to avoid turning the event into a racial clash.

Unlike previous demonstrations, media personnel also expressed appreciation over the police’s directive specifically for the media to get out of harm’s way when they take action.

According to the Bar Council team of observers, police detained more than 400 people during the rally today.

Lawyer Edmund Bon told Malaysiakini that more than 400 people are being detained at the Jalan Semarak police academy (Pulapol) while at estimated 69 others are detained at the Kuala Lumpur police contingent headquarters.

“(At about 3.30pm) they finally allowed us in at Pulapol to see the detainees. The police have promised to feed the detainees and release all of them this evening,” he said.

1 comment:

Lone said...

The BN gomen and its ministers and MPs like to tell the world, as Deva did on Al Jazeera, that Malaysians have freedom and openness, especially under AAB. But they are silent on justice, freedom to speak and complain and freedom to asemble peacefully. And when questioned on the violent ways taken to counter peaceful gatherings, they just go on wild ramblings to try and defend the indefensible. As a result showing themselves up to be what they truly are.
Malaysians should wake up and show the BN gomen not only the broom but the boot as it has overstayed its welcome.