Thursday 19 July 2012

Bersih slams Hanif’s ‘weak’ response

Bersih has slammed the Hanif panel’s comment, that the police had not acted professionally during the April 28 rally for electoral reform, as a “weak response” in the face of evidence of police brutality.

NONEThe Bersih steering committee was unhappy with comments by Hanif Omar (left), head of the government-formed inquiry into alleged Bersih violence, as reported in theSun on Tuesday.

The report quoted Hanif as saying, “These certain police officers did not handle the protesters in a professional way,” after viewing videos of police giving protesters “uncalled for slaps”.

Bersih, in a statement today, said Hanif’s comments flew in the face of witness testimonies at the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) concurrent public inquiry on the same rally, that described “excessive and completely unjustified violence.”

“Hanif said that Kuala Lumpur Chief Police Officer Mohmad Salleh, who was observing through monitors in the Bukit Aman control centre, saw police handling the protesters in an unprofessional manner.

“(However, he) does not acknowledge the brutal and excessive force used by the police as depicted in the medical reports of some protesters,” the coalition's steering committee said.

Hanif also reportedly told the English daily that he would personally write to the Bersih steering committee and the Bar Council to invite them to meet the panel. However, the Bersih coalition again snubbed the invitation.

“Bersih reiterates its objections to the panel itself as well as to Hanif’s appointment as its chairperson and will not engage with it due to the biasness and composition of the investigative panel,” they said.

Prior to the formation of the panel, Hanif, who is also a former inspector-general of police, had previously said that they were communist elements in the pro-electoral reform rally.

His appointment as the chairperson of the panel had been a subject of controversy, with objections from various parties such as the DAP, the Bar Council, and human rights watchdog Proham.

The Bersih coalition also responded to Hanif’s statement that there were no specific instructions on how to handle the media, and are trying to get the police to declare whether they had received the UN guidelines on how to handle crowds and members of the press.

“Hanif should realise that the police surely receive their instructions from those higher up; thus, the inspector-general of police (IGP) and home minister are also responsible,” they said.

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