DBKL confiscate Dataran tents, 2 arrestedTwo men were arrested this morning when the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) and police raided their protest camp at Dataran Merdeka, the iconic public square in the city centre.
According to eyewitness and supporter Wong Tay Sy, 27, a huge contingent of DBKL and police officers surrounded the campsite, seized the tents and loaded them into a City Hall truck at about 8 am.
"They waited for us to wake up and took away 61 out of 62 of our tents. We are only left with food, drinks and a recycled bunting,” she told Malaysiakini. “Only one or two of the police were in uniform.”
The 40 DBKL and police personnel were more than doubled the number of protesters, said Wong, who has been camping there since Friday night.
She said that the two arrested - social activist Fahmi Reza and student Umar Mohd Azmi - were "dragged into an unmarked van" by about two or three men each.
"Fahmi kept on asking if he was arrested but they did not answer. He is now at the Dang Wangi police station," she said, adding that the operation was over in 10 minutes.
Two protestors have gone to the station to check on their friends while the rest have collectively decided to stay put at Dataran.
"We are appealing for more people to join us and help us with supplies," she said.Day 8 of Dataran occupationThis is the eighth day of the student protest for free education. They share the space with the Occupy Dataran movement - a movement to reclaim public spaces.
The students, who are demanding the abolition of PTPTN (Higher Education Loan Fund), as well as the Occupy Dataran activists, decamped yesterday to make way for a royal concert held in Dataran last night.
While the Occupy Dataran activists re-established their camp late last night after the concert, the students are expected to return today.When contacted, Fahmi (right) who is still held at the police station, said while DBKL officers took away the tents this morning, the police officers had demanded to speak to him personally.
"I was sitting down... the police said they wanted to talk to me but I told them to let me discuss with my friends first, he then started to grab my hand.
"I asked if I was arrested, they then grabbed me and arrested me without giving me any reason," he said.
Another Dataran occupier, Umar who approached the police to question why Fahmi was arrested, was also detained by police.
The DBKL officers involved in the operation are also at the Dang Wangi police headquarters.Illegal structuresMeanwhile, at a press conference later, Occupy Dataran activist Lew Pik Svonn said Umar was being detained under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing public servants from performing their duties.
"He is also accused of violating Section 4 of DBKL by-laws for illegally erecting structures," she said.Is is unclear which law was used to detain Fahmi, who was released hours later.She also claimed that a DBKL officer had assaulted Umar while attempting to arrest him.
Lew said their lawyers have been informed that the police are also planning to separate the arrested duo by shipping off Umar to the Jinjang district police station.
The raid and arrest come just hours after DBKL returned the occupiers' belongings which was temporarily stored on their struck in order not to obstruct the royal concert last night.
According to another activist, Dianne Tahir, when the items were returned at around 11pm, DBKL officers also issued a summon to Fahmi for illegally setting up tents at Dataran Merdeka however it did not specify the compound amount.Close to an estimated RM5,000 worth of items including equipments, tents, raincoats, toiletries were confiscated, she added.
"But they left some food behind for us," she added. - Malaysiakini, 22/4/2012, DBKL confiscate Dataran tents, 2 arrested
Sunday, April 22, 2012
On the the eighth day of the student protest for free education, there has been arrest of two persons. The students, who are demanding the abolition of PTPTN (Higher Education Loan Fund), as well as the Occupy Dataran activists, decamped yesterday to make way for a royal concert held in Dataran last night. As such, I believe that the arrests and the 'raid' now is unwarranted and wrong.
Freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly is a fundamental right in any true democracy, and our Malaysian government must respect this and allow person/s with differing views and critical of the existing government the space and the freedom to be able to protest and express themselves in public places, noting also the object of such actions is not just to create awareness but to also garner greater support from the public for a particular viewpoint, perspective or cause. To allow public protest and action, but to confine it to closed-door premises, stadiums, etc, away from the places where one has access to the public is absurd and goes against the very purpose of any public action or protest. What good is there to have a public protest in an 'isolated location' away from where the members of the public usually are?
In Malaysia, the other problem is the fact there is limited or no access to the media for those with different views, or those critical of the government. We still do not even have live coverage of our Parliamentary proceedings on television, or even the radio - and as such, Malaysians will not even be able to see, monitor or even follow the debates in Parliament. All that is needed here is to just transmit unedited coverage of parliamentary proceedings to the people. It is also these lack of accesses to the media, and other medium of communications, that drive people to have public protests, demonstrations and other forms of peaceful assemblies. It is naive of any government to even think that the intended target of these communication is just the government - it is not, it is also for the members of the public. It is also to solicit greater support from our fellow citizens of Malaysia and the global village.