Bersih T-shirts seized, seven activists held in raid
UPDATED @ 04:27:53 PM 29-06-2011
PETALING JAYA, June 29 — About 20 policemen, at least one of whom was armed with an assault rifle, raided the Bersih secretariat here today, confiscating hundreds of the movement’s iconic yellow T-shirts and bringing seven in for questioning.
Seven staff members of women’s rights non-governmental organisation Empower, which hosts the secretariat for the group pushing for electoral reforms, were initially questioned at the premises that had been blocked by about 10 police vehicles, including a Black Maria.
Police then seized several items contained in seven plastic bags and five boxes as well as five banners before taking the workers to the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters.
Selangor Chief Police Officer Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said they had obtained information that illegal activities were taking place in the house, adding that police have now found the tip to be accurate.
Tun Hisan also said that hundreds of T-shirts and other apparel have been confiscated from Bersih, which is planning a rally pressing for electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur on July 9, adding that the group is not registered with the Registrar of Societies.
Lawyer Honey Tan, representing Empower, said that police were investigating the workers under the Printing Presses and Publication Act and for planning an illegal assembly under the Police Act.
She added that the seven were not arrested but taken in for further questioning.
Bersih had earlier said that no search warrant was issued prior to the raid and that police threatened to cut the locks to the office.
Empower is an NGO that is part of the Bersih coalition pushing for free and fair elections.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein earlier today declared the Bersih T-shirts “illegal” over links with the unsanctioned July 9 rally.
Police have arrested nearly 100 people since the weekend, some of them for wearing the yellow Bersih T-shirts.
Bersih began an online campaign this afternoon asking those with Facebook and Twitter social network accounts to paint the Internet yellow with icons and badges of that colour.