No cop hurt during Bersih rally, Suhakam inquiry told
UPDATED @ 06:00:52 PM 13-08-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — No policeman was injured in the chaotic April 28 rally for free elections here, contrary to reports that officers were wounded by demonstrators and which were allegedly used to encourage reprisals by the force, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry heard today.
Insp Norazmee Mohamed, from the Dang Wangi police station here, said he was not aware of any police officer being injured in clashes that had sprouted in several spots leading to Dataran Merdeka and the venue of the rally organised by electoral reform group Bersih.
“I was not informed of any injuries sustained by my officers,” he told a three-man panel led by Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee (picture).
“If indeed an officer was injured, it is the standard operating procedure (SOP) to inform me but I did not receive any information,” he said.
Norazmee was the second person called to testify today, after another police officer, ASP Ahamad Jais Ujang.
Norazmee said he had been briefed earlier in the day on April 28 by Ahamad, who was his superior, and told to form a human barricade around Dataran Merdeka.
“I was there to monitor 300 officers under my control. We received orders to form a human barricade outside Dataran Merdeka.
“We were told to stand and guard the barricade,” he said.
Norazmee told the panel the crowd began dismantling the barbed wire barricade at 1pm, forcing policemen to retreat and take cover behind a Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) truck.
“The crowd marched in and threw stones and bottles at us. They also uttered profanities.
“I ordered my men to retreat, fearing for their safety,” he added.
The inspector said he did not make any arrests that day.
When questioned by Bar Council lawyers, he said the situation at Dataran Merdeka would have been more chaotic if the FRU did not fire tear gas.
“That was the only thing we had to make the crowd disperse,” he said.
Ahamad, who was in charge of keeping demonstrators from entering the blocked-off Dataran Merdeka, testified earlier that he had been informed that two officers had been injured by demonstrators.
“My OCPD told me in a briefing that a PEMANDU officer and a traffic policeman were also injured when the police made arrests during the rally,” said Ahamad.
He did not disclose the identities of the injured or offer further information on the PEMANDU official, but was likely referring to a representative from the government’s Performance and Delivery Unit, the efficiency agency under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Ahamad, who heads the police’s religious and counselling unit, said he was only informed of the incident from his superior officer after he went back to the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) in Jalan Semarak.
Ahamad also told the inquiry that he directed the policemen under his charge against being violent or reacting emotionally towards the crowd and to stay calm, even if they were provoked.
“My orders were clear. I told all my 1,000 officers not to react in any unruly manner.
“I also told them not to make any arrests, if possible,” he said.
Despite his orders, Ahamad said a few officers had arrested several people after the crowd broke through a barbed-wire barricade and entered Dataran Merdeka. He noted that the time then was about 3pm.
“I saw an officer arresting a man wearing a yellow T-shirt. I asked him who gave him orders to make arrests but my officer kept mum,” he said.
“The arrests may have happened when my officers felt things were getting out of control and felt they should make arrests,” he said.
He added that he then took those detained to Pulapol for further action.
Ahamad said he saw many of the detainees were injured and bleeding.
“My officers should not have used violence on the crowd. They were ordered to use minimal violence to control them,” he said.
Ahamad did not submit any reports or videos of his operations that day as he was unsure if it was needed.
“I was merely looking out for the well-being of my officers. I did not see anything wrong happen that day, except for incidents where my officers injured a few detainees.
“Arresting people was not my job, so I did not submit any reports to the OCPD,” he said.
However, Ahamad said he believed the perpetrators who tore down the barricade outside Dataran Merdeka had been arrested.
He also added he has no knowledge of any journalist being arrested that day.
The inquiry continues on August 15.