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‘Even DBKL officers assaulted us’

 | July 11, 2012

A witness tells a Suhakam panel that he was stomped on by enforcement officers as he was helping a girl who was badly injured on April 28.

KUALA LUMPUR: Even Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) authorities assaulted protesters during the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, a Suhakam inquiry was told today.

Kumar Suppiah, 45, said that during the rally, he was roughed up by City Hall enforcement officers alongside with police personnel.

Testifying into human rights violation during the rally, Kumar said that he was stomped on by DBKL officers who assisted the police to clear the crowd near the DBKL HQ that day.

“Some of us took shelter in an ATM room at the DBKL building (after the water cannons were fired). There were about 12 of us and some were assisting a young girl in her 20s who we suspect broke her arm,” he said.

Kumar said that two groups of five to six policemen entered the room at 20-minute intervals and told the crowd to vacate the premises. When they were informed of the injured girl, the police officers went away saying that they would send an ambulance.

“Later a third group of about 15 officers consisting of policemen in regular blue uniforms and DBKL personnel entered the room and started stomping on everyone.

“I was attending to the girl at that moment and they even stomped on the injured girl’s thigh and on my back. They slammed me against the wall,” he said.

Kumar said that although he was covering his face to protect himself, he was sure DBKL officers were party to the assault as he could make out their unforms which had white stripes on their pants.

“I’m very disappointed, I only stayed back to help the injured girl,” he said, adding that he saw the girl tended to by an ambulance later.

Kumar said that he was later dragged out by the police to a spot nearby where there were other detainess. “When number swelled to about 50, they took us to the Selangor club (next to Dataran Merdeka).

“Even as the long line of detainees were walking towards the club, the police continued to kick and assault the protesters. I didn’t make any eye-contact for fear of being assautled,” he said, adding that the moment he made eye-contact with one, he was kicked by that officer.

Asked if he knew why he was detained, the businessman said the police tod them that they were held for violating a court order cordoning off Dataran Merdeka from the public.

“But I wasn’t in Dataran (voluntarily). The police were the ones who took me to Dataran,” he said, adding that he suffered minor injuries as a result of the stomping.

Kumar also brought along his yellow Bersih T-shirt which contained bootprints as evidence.

Revenge

He told the inquiry that he took part in the rally as a witness and assumed that the rally was not illegal as Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had said that the rally was not a threat.

While he was held at Selangor Club for at least five hours, Kumar said that one police officer in his 30s was particularly aggressive. He yelled at us and said: “One of my colleagues is injured. If anything happens, then you will be destroyed (hapuskan)”.

He said that he anticipated police treatment to be worse at the detention center in Pulapol, but he was pleasantly surprised when they were treated in more civil manner.

“They separated the injured. They gave me a painkiller. The police acted swiftly. The ambulance took the badly injured away. We were even served buns and drinks but I couldn’t eat because my mouth was swollen.

Another witness, Arshad Abbas said that while he was dragged to Dataran Merdeka in the evening, a police officer told him: “One of our officers is dead, that is why the police wants to take revenge”.

The rumours were later unfounded.

Arshad also told the panel that he was assaulted by eight to 10 policemen as he was removing his Bersih T-shirt and about to leave the place.

“I couldn’t see clearly because I was removing my shirt but they were kicking me,” he said. He sustained a gash over his right eyebrow which required five stitches.

“The police also called me a ‘Barua Anwar’ (Anwar’s servant) who disrupted the police from carrying out their duties,” he said.

Another witness, Chong Min Shih said she was hit by a tear-gas canister. Her testimony once again raised the question if the police did fire tear-gas directly into the crowd.

“I’m about five feet and it hit my neck. Someone much shorter could have sustained serious injuries,” she said.

Chong still bears the scar of the canister on the right side of her neck.

The three-men Suhakam panel heard from three witnesses today who were assaulted by the police during the rally.

Panel head, Khaw Lake Tee said today she has received the official police Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on handling large crowds and assemblies like Bersih.

The inquiry resumes on Monday.


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