Malaysia

Bersih protesters had no chance to disperse, says Suhakam panel chief

By Hafidz Baharom
September 21, 2012
Latest Update: September 22, 2012 04:30 am

Khaw (with raised blue file) and other members of the Suhakam panel visit Dataran Merdeka on September 21, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKhaw (with raised blue file) and other members of the Suhakam panel visit Dataran Merdeka on September 21, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) panel chief today said that “there was not much room to run” for protesters during the Bersih rally on April 28, disputing earlier police testimony of having enough roads open for participants to disperse.

Prof Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee told reporters after the panel made an on-site visit that the exits assigned by the police to allow people to disperse were further away, leaving only two narrow lanes nearby.

“Police said there were a lot of areas where protesters could have dispersed and we were looking for that.

“We only saw two; small lane near Citin Hotel and Masjid India Jalan Tun Perak. There was not much room to run,” Khaw said.

The three-hour walking site visit began at Dataran Merdeka and included visits to the alleged holding area in front of the Royal Selangor Club, Citin Hotel in Jalan Melayu, and Jalan Hang Lekiu, three locations where witnesses have testified of police brutality on the day of the rally.

“We are also planning a visit to the police, the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) where they’re going to show us the razorblades [sic], the barricades and they’re going to test the tear gas on us,” Khaw said.

While commending the police for their previous co-operation with the panel, Khaw insisted they bring forward the ground commanders and policemen who could answer the allegations of witnesses who were manhandled.

“The only thing is we want the police witnesses who were actually involved in the allegations that were raised and we wanted them to respond to the allegations. We still haven’t heard from them,” she said.

During a previous session of the public inquiry, Khaw had voiced her exasperation with police witnesses whom she described as appearing to have “done nothing, heard nothing and seen nothing” during the rally.

The inquiry resumes next Monday with further testimony from the police.