Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ambiga: Explain conflicting orders during Bersih rally

Ambiga: Explain conflicting orders during Bersih rally

August 16, 2012
Malaysian Insider 
Ambiga noted that police initially treated demonstrators with kid gloves, before unleashing a barrage of tear gas canisters. — File pic
 
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) should compel the Inspector-General of Police and the home minister to explain why two seemingly disparate sets of orders were given to police and which led to the chaotic break-up of the April 28 protest for free and fair elections,  Bersih co-chairwoman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.
 “It appears there were two sets of orders given to the police,” said Ambiga, adding that initial orders given were to treat participants “with care”.

“There was a second set of orders, it appears, which was the firing of tear-gas. It unleashed fear on participants of the rally. We can’t understand how that happened.”

Ambiga was speaking to reporters when presenting Bersih’s memorandum and report to the Suhakam panel chaired by the commission’s vice-chairman, Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee, that is investigating accusations of police brutality at the rally.

Ambiga said Bersih wanted to know who gave the orders to the police and what orders were given.
She stressed that the Suhakam panel should call the IGP and the home minister as witnesses to get a “complete picture”.

“I’m sure they would be prepared to come,” said the prominent lawyer-activist.

She noted that the Suhakam panel has powers to compel witnesses to testify.

Yesterday, Khaw told reporters that Suhakam has sent letters to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), requesting the officers on duty on April 28 to come forward to relate their account of events to the panel.

The panel will also look into allegations from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) that, prior to the rally, a briefing was given to members of the media by the police.

She also said the panel will hear from the Bersih organisers and visit the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) headquarters to take a closer look at the barbed wire barricade allegedly used during the rally.

The inquiry continues on September 10.

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