Wednesday 1 August 2012

Bersih protestor 'assaulted right up to Dataran Merdeka'

Updated @6:40pm

An accounts executive who participated in the Bersih 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur has related how the police hauled him out of a hotel café and made him face a gauntlet of beatings until he arrived at a holding area at Dataran Merdeka.

NONE"(A police personnel) grabbed my shoulder. He pulled me from my hotel to Dataran Merdeka,” claimed Hee Jenn Wei (left), 25, who was wearing a Bersih t-shirt .

“Along the way, there were other police officers When they saw me, they charged and kicked me in the leg."

Hee was testifying before the public inquiry being conducted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) into alleged human rights abuses during the rally on April 28.

Hee said all this happened after the crowd had dispersed and he was sitting with a friend in the café of the hotel where he was staying.

Having checked into the hotel the day before, Hee had participated in the anti-Lynas Green Rally before joining Bersih 3.0.

About 3pm, the crowd was already dispersing in an orderly manner around the Masjid Jamek as the message had been passed that the rally was over.

Out of the blue, tear gas was fired from the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka and then from the opposite side from the direction of Maybank tower.

This hemmed in the crowd and some started to run in panic as they were forced into a bottleneck in front of the OCBC bank.

Hee proceeded to walk back to the hotel to find the entrance locked, and the security guard told only to admit guests with key cards.

Flashing his own key card, Hee managed to secure entry and proceeded to the cafe to have a drink with his friend.

Somehow a group of police managed to gain entry to the hotel and proceeded to confront him in the cafe.

“You come with me,” one officer whose uniform bore no name tag, told Hee and his friend, both of whom were wearing Bersih t-shirts.

The police told his friend to come along. As she was wearing two layers of clothing, she took off her Bersih t-shirt and an officer confiscated it. They left her alone.

Hee asked if he was under arrest and the grounds for this, but the officers just repeated his order and then grabbed Hee’s shoulder, forcing him to stand.

“I raised both my hands and said that I was not going to struggle,” he related.

‘Sharp pain at the back of my neck’

Then he felt a sharp pain at the back of his neck from what he believed to be a blow from a fist and started to feel dizzy. His head felt swollen.

He heard the security guard yelling to the police not to hit him, and turning around he saw a police officer standing behind him with arms folded behind him.

Hee was pulled by his shoulders and dragged through the back streets from Masjid Jamek to Dataran Merdeka.

At intervals he was made to run as, on and off, officers rushed at him and kicked him in the leg until he was then taken to the holding area and later transported to the police training centre where he was detained.

Hee claimed no statement was taken, and no treatment was provided for his head injury until his release.

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Also testifying before the Suhakam panel was the hotel’s sales manager, R Ramesh who admitted to hearing some commotion in the lobby.
He said he had not seen the incident where Hee was manhandled.

However, he admitted that he and his staff members had abandoned their posts at the front of the hotel as they were affected by the tear gas wafting in.

Asked if his hotel had suffered any drop in bookings or occupancy following the Bersih rally, Ramesh said occupancy was full during the protest and continued to be so.
However, he believed that public rallies may be an inconvenience to tourists, if not a deterrent.


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