That the Malaysian government does not fully respect the democratic rights of its citizens is well established. But what was new in the BERSIH 2.0 rally was the deliberate and brutal assaults targeting the leaders of the opposition movement by the riot police. Well known for regularly beating up peaceful protesters, the riot police has certainly escalated its intimidation. The Najib administration must be seeking to cow the opposition leaders into fear of not demonstrating by directly threatening them with physical harm. This is a serious mistake as it is likely to radicalise further the supporters of the opposition. One person also died while fleeing the tear gas shot at the crowds. These increasingly brutal suppression of democratic rights does prove earlier reports that Najib’s and UMNO’s fetish for power will destabilise Malaysia.
In KL Sentral, police had deliberately fired a tear gas canister directly at Anwar and he hurt himself trying to evade it. He hit his head on the road and also suffered a cut on his leg. His bodyguard who tried to help him suffered serious injury with a fractured cheekbone and a deep gash on his face. …..“They shot directly at us. I could hardly breathe and stand up at the time,” AFP reported Anwar as saying. “I am okay. I still feel nausea and dizziness.” ……Perhaps more ruthless was the way the police chopped down Mat Sabu (Member of Parliament and PAS Deputy President). He was riding pillion, when a patrol car deliberately knocked into his motorbike in a bid to arrest him. The bike fell over and Sabu injured his right knee badly……”Police brutality is at its peak. Right in front of me, they fired tear gas directly at YB Tian Chua (Member of Parliament and PKR Vice President) and YB Khalid Samad (Member of Parliament and PAS Central Committee member) who suffered serious head injuries. I managed to duck and avoided being directly hit,” MP for Bukit Gantang Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysia Chronicle.
- Extracted from Wong Choon Mei, “Police went all out to hurt Anwar and Mat Sabu“, Malaysian Chronicle, 9 July 2011.
This Reuter’s report captures some of the high-handedness of Najib’s actions.
Malaysia Today has an excellent collection of news reports relating to the BERSIH 2.0 rally.
More photos from the rally are available here.