Assault on Bersih protesters, journalists ‘unacceptable’, says senior cop
UPDATED @ 03:09:35 PM 13-09-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — A senior police officer said today that the alleged assault by policemen of protesters and journalists during the April 28 Bersih rally here was “contemptuous, ill-mannered and unacceptable”.
Deputy city CID chief ACP Khairi Ahrasa said this when testifying at the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry into the rally for electoral reforms that descended into chaotic scenes and violence.
He also told the inquiry that policemen should not have arrested protesters who had dispersed by dragging them from restaurants.
“These actions are contemptuous, ill-mannered and totally unacceptable. And I will look into it and take action,” Khairi said.
He also said the media’s role was historically established and police should not have interfered since they were only doing their duty on that day.
“In my briefing on that day, I told everyone of the freedom of the press to do their job and not to harm them as these incidents would harm our (the police) image,” he added.
When asked whether there was a need for police to brief the media before an event, Khairi disagreed and said it was not needed.
“They (the media) have been around since before Merdeka. Instead, we (the police) must understand their freedoms and should not be afraid of what they report,” he added.
However, Khairi said there should be a memorandum of understanding between the media and the police to limit where journalists could go during rallies to avoid they being harmed.
“But for this to happen would need feedback from both sides,” he added.
Asked if arrests were made according to the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, Khairi said police had used “the spirit of the law”.
“While the law had been gazetted by April 23, the booklets were not yet available by April 25.
“I approached the publisher and was told that it wasn’t even printed yet due to delays in the Home Ministry,” he added.
Instead, the senior officer said, police were briefed on April 28 using the draft of the law.
Khairi’s testimony ended proceedings today.
Inquiry panel head Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee said the secretariat will announce the next sitting at a later date, which may include a site visit to the police depot used to hold detainees on April 28.