|Barrier breach no excuse for force, says Bar Council|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2012 03:03pm|
©Malay Mail (Used by permission)
by Meena Lakshana
PETALING JAYA: The police cannot justify the "grotesque use of force" at the Bersih 3.0 rally by blaming the breach of the barricades in Dataran Merdeka, said the Bar Council.
"The crowds that had gathered for the Bersih 3.0 rally reflected a broad cross-section of Malaysian society, and were peaceful," said Malaysian Bar vice-president Christopher Leong.
"The reported breach of police barricades in some areas does not justify the police unleashing the full force of their arsenal upon crowds that were peaceful."
He said the "grotesque use of force" by the police showed they "do not have the maturity, discipline and restraint required of a professional force".
"In this regard, the Malaysian Bar strongly disagrees with the minister of home affairs' assertion that the police acted professionally," said Leong in a statement yesterday.
The rally, which saw tens of thousands march to Dataran Merdeka at the heart of Kuala Lumpur, went without incident and at 2.30pm, the organisers called for the protesters to disperse.
However, some protesters breached the barricades that the authorities had erected to cordon off the Dataran — Bersih's original venue for their sit-in protest — and provoked the police into firing tear gas and water cannons at the crowds.
The lawyer said while the Bar did not approve of the "belligerent conduct" of some of the protesters, the police "displayed a lack of restraint and proportionality".
Leong said the lawyers' monitoring teams also "witnessed numerous acts of police brutality" and said the police's attitude was not merely to arrest but was "punitive in nature" that "aggravated" the tense situation.
Lawyers for Liberty member Fadiah Nadwa Fikri told The Malay Mail the police did not cooperate with lawyers who gathered at Pulapol to offer legal aid to detainees and refused to talk to the lawyers.
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