Cops detain 2 Occupy Dataran activists, seize tents
UPDATED @ 12:12:01 PM 25-04-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — Police arrested two Occupy Dataran activists who were camping out in Dataran Merdeka early this morning, the movement’s organisers said.
The arrests today came hours after a royal concert last night and a week before the Bersih 3.0 rally.
Fahmi Reza and Omar Mohd Azmi were picked up by police officials at about 8am despite the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) recently giving the Occupy Dataran movement the go-ahead to carry out their demonstration.
“Fahmi was sitting down, not doing anything when plainclothes policemen came and arrested him. Omar tried to pull Fahmi back and got arrested.
“Plainclothes policemen accompanied by DBKL officers came, the cops did the arrest while DBKL took down 40 out of 62 tents,” Kris Khaira, an Occupy Dataran participant told The Malaysian Insider today.
He said that the two were currently being detained at the Dang Wangi police station, but that the police were unable to provide a proper explanation for the arrest.
“What did we do wrong? Why were arrests made? No reasons given,” added Khaira.
Occupy Dataran is a non-partisan grassroots group based on the free assembly model formed in July last year. Members of the group have been camping out at the historic square since last week.
A 2-and-a-half minute video of the incident titled “Occupy Dataran diserang DBKL (Occupy Dataran attacked by DBKL)” uploaded on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHKQDNFYOcM&feature=youtu.be) shows several men in uniform loading tents and other camping materials onto a dark blue truck marked “DBKL”.
It also depicts a group of uniformed men dragging off two other men, believed to be Fahmi and Omar, into another dark truck.
A bespectacled man dressed in dark clothes can be heard asking if he is being arrested, while other voices are recorded asking if they have a warrant for his arrest.
Despite being detained, Fahmi managed to post a series of tweets describing the events leading up to his arrest.
He said he woke up at 8am and saw police confiscating the tents.
The activist said on Twitter that the police did not offer any explanation when he asked them why they were confiscating the tents.
“They did not introduce themselves as police. They started to pull my wrists and force me to get up (Mereka tak perkenalkan identiti mereka sebagai polis. Mereka mula tarik lengan aku & paksa aku bangun),” said Fahmi on his Twitter account, @kuasasiswa.
Yesterday afternoon, DBKL had asked organisers of Occupy Dataran to temporarily take down their three storage tents to allow for ambulance parking for a royal concert.
The group agreed to the move with the conditions that an inventory list be drawn up and that DBKL would help store the tents and supplies in a DBKL truck within sight.
The movement also made it clear that they would continue to occupy but took down the tents “to be respectful”.
“We stand by the principle that Dataran Merdeka is a public space. It’s large enough for the royal concert and us to share the same space,” Occupy Dataran activist Temme Lee told The Malaysian Insider.
She said the DBKL officers agreed to their conditions and were friendly.
The group was also told by the DBKL officers they could stay at their spot without the tents.
In the evening, the movement continued to occupy the place after making way for five ambulances.
DBKL returned all the tents and supplies to the movement after the royal concert as promised, said Alex Lee, another member of the movement.
The arrests today come just a week before the highly-publicised Bersih 3.0 rally, where the reforms movement hopes to replicate last year’s rally success and gather thousands of people for a “sit-down” protest at Dataran Merdeka.
DBKL has said that it will not grant Bersih permission to use the venue, but the reforms group has insisted it will go ahead with the rally.
Opposition parties have pledged their undivided support for Bersih’s cause, with PAS promising to mobilise more than 10,000 supporters.