Saturday 9 July 2011

IGP: Police provoked, Anwar uninjured

Inspector-general of police Ismail Omar today defended the police's use of tear gas and water cannons against Bersih 2.0 protesters, claiming that they were provoked into action and used only “minimal” force to disperse them.

He also explicitly denied claims that police had injured senior Pakatan Rakyat leaders including PKR de facto chief Anwar Ibrahim by firing tear gas canisters directly at the crowd assembled at KL Sentral.

NONE“The group in Puduraya attempted to march to Dataran Merdeka and refused to disperse. They attempted to break through (the police blockade),” he said at a 6pm press conference in Bukit Aman, some two hours after the rally ended.

“Police had no choice but to disperse (the crowd) using tear gas and water cannons,” he said, stressing that they only used “minimal” force.

Ismail also denied claims that Anwar and several others were injured by tear gas canisters shot directly at the crowd assembled at KL Sentral, stating that the opposition leader was not even in the thick of the action.

“He was not at Pudu. That is the only place that had tear gas (fired). It is not true,” he said of Anwar's alleged injuries, while adding that the senior politician was not arrested.
NONEIt was reported that Anwar, his bodyguard and PAS' Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad were injured after riot police fired tear gas directly at Pakatan Rakyat parliamentarians who were at the front of a 1,000-strong crowd at KL Sentral.

It is learnt that Anwar suffered minor injuries in the ensuing stampede, but his bodyguard was reported to have suffered a four-inch gash and a fractured cheekbone due to a direct hit from a tear gas canister.

Anwar reportedly fell and injured himself while attempting to dodge a tear-gas cannister that was fired at his direction.

Khalid was also reported to have suffered from a direct hit from a canister on the back of his neck. The severity of his injury has yet to be verified.

Turnout not as big as claimed

Ismail also downplayed the turnout of the protesters in support of Bersih 2.0, saying that the crowd only assembled at no more than two locations.

NONEHe insisted that the crowd had only assembled at Jalan Pudu and outside Stadium Merdeka along Jalan Loke Yew.

“The Pudu group marched towards KLCC and Menara Maybank. They (Bersih 2.0) are trying to show as if there were gatherings all over Kuala Lumpur. It was actually only at two locations,” he said.

Ismail declined to comment on allegations of police brutality against Bersih 2.0 protesters, stressing that he needs to first look at the full report.

He however maintained that there were parties who had provoked the police.

“If there are (incidences of police brutality), you lodge a report lah,” he told journalists in response to a question on whether or not he will take stern action against officers found guilty of assaulting protesters.

'No shots at hospital'

On claims that riot police fired tear gas into the premises of the Tung Sin Hospital along Jalan Pudu – where protesters had sought refuge – he dismissed them as mere “berita angin” (rumours).

NONE“That is not true. It (firing tear gas into the hospital) is outside of our SOP (standard operating procedures).
"Do not listen to these rumours. They are inaccurate,” he said in reply to a barrage of questions from journalists.

Ismail meanwhile confirmed a total of 1,401 people were detained, including several ringleaders of today's mass rally.

Key personalities detained include PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang his deputy Mohamad Sabu and two vice-presidents Mahfuz Omar and Salahudin Ayub, Bersih 2.0 chief S Ambiga, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and PKR's Subang MP R Sivarasa.

Ismail also congratulated the police for managing the rally, under the leadership of Kuala Lumpur acting police chief Amar Singh.

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