Saturday 9 July 2011

KL Sentral bears brunt of police action

Just when the various prongs of the Kuala Lumpur Bersih 2.0 rally managed to gather momentum this afternoon as a single column, the police launched an all-out assault on the rally's central leadership in KL Sentral to decapitate the protest.

NONEThe city's main transit point was a scene of mayhem as cops, hell-bent on stopping the organisers and Pakatan Rakyat leaders from making their way to Merdeka Stadium, spared no effort.

The brutal sweep saw the coalition's chief Ambiga Sreenevasan arrested and key ally Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim injured.
Last night, key Bersih 2.0 leaders managed to slip into the city past numerous police roadblocks, lodging at the Hilton Hotel in KL Sentral to avoid the dragnet set up since midnight to scour the city of the movement's supporters.

Police began their sweep of budget hotels and several of Bersih's planned meeting points including Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Petaling Street to no avail, as the latter's secret locations were only revealed at noon today during a press conference.

NONEBy then thousands of supporters were already mobilising in several groups around the city centre, with the goal of reaching Merdeka Stadium.

After the 25-minute media conference held at the Hilton, Ambiga, Anwar, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang and the rest of the entourage were in high spirits while bracing themselves for the worst.

“You (the government) cannot quell the voice of the rakyat. We will push forward,” said Ambiga.

1,000 escape into KL Sentral

Tension spread through the luxury hotel as journalists and photographers trailed the entourage and their supporters on the start of their journey.

However, their grand exit only signalled the police to launch their offensive.

NONEFrom the Hilton the group of leaders crossed over to nearby KL Sentral shouting, “Bersih, Bersih,” as the entourage, joined by those in the major transportation hub, slowly grew in numbers.

Led by Tian Chua, who from reformasi days is no stranger to street rallies, the 1,000-strong group initially managed to breach police cordons around KL Sentral.

Their momentum was however culled when police unleashed tear gas upon them and rushed in full force, arresting key figures and injuring some along the way.

A small group led by national laureate A Samad Said however managed to escape the police assault and was the only one that made it close enough to the palace, before being foiled by the police once more a mere 200 metres from their target.

Several others who escaped arrests retreated into the hotel, nursing their injuries while those with severe gashes were rushed to a nearby hospital.

Taunted, police make more arrests

Police action took a turn for the worse when the cops, regrouping opposite the hotel to leave, were booed by the crowd in the KL Sentral transport hub.

NONEAngered, the cops leapt of their trucks and gave orders to storm the crowds to pick up suspicious persons.

As the crowds retreated into the station, the police rushed in nabbing supporters and giving chase while some hid in nearby fast food outlets.

Securing suspects with cable ties, the cops dragged women and men into trucks and rushed off the scene.

Police say 1,401 protesters were arrested during the day-long operation today, including 13 children. The authorities estimate the crowd turnout between 5,000 to 6,000, while Bersih claims that up to 50,000 participated.

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