|No physical contact, riot police ordered (Update 2)|
|Friday, 06 July 2012 08:40am|
©The Sun Daily (Used by permission)
by Pauline Wong
KUALA LUMPUR (July 5, 2012): Riot police were ordered not to come into physical contact with protestors for fear of causing hurt, the government-appointed independent advisory panel into the Bersih 3.0 rally revealed today.
Panel chairman and former inspector-general of police Tun Hanif Omar said the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel were not equipped with batons whilst on duty during the April 28 rally by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.
“Normally, the first rank would be the baton party, but they were not given batons that day. All were instead equipped with tear gas guns or grenades.
“The order was never to come into physical contact because people could get hurt. That was the first thing they were concerned about, so gas and water were used to disperse the protestors,” Hanif told theSun at Police Training Centre (Pulapol) here.
He had earlier led the panel on a visit to the Bersih 3.0 rally scene at Dataran Merdeka.
The panel had revisited the areas surrounding the iconic square where riot police and protestors clashed on April 28.
Arriving at 10.40am at the square, the panel retraced the steps of the protestors from in front of Jalan Raja here, to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman while being briefed by Dang Wangi OCPD ASP Mohamad Zulkarnain on the position of police personnel and the orders given that day.
The visit lasted just under an hour, ending in front of the Sogo shopping complex.
Hanif said the visit will be very useful in helping the panel reach its conclusion on what really happened during the rally.
More than 80,000 protestors had faced the brunt of over 900 tear gas canisters fired at them after the barricades set up around Dataran Merdeka – which was declared out of bounds by a court order – were breached by a small group.
Hanif said that the visit had clarified several things for the panel, including the position of the police barricade, position of the protestors during the rally and the location of the breach that sparked action from riot police.
“We also wanted to know whether there was actually planned entrapment by the FRU but there was none,” he said, in a reference to several blogs and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who had claimed otherwise.
Hanif also said he was satisfied with the explanation given by the police.
“It’s now left to us to discuss what conclusions we can draw from the briefings that we heard from the police and the non-police witnesses, which would enable us to make a fair conclusion,” he said.
The panel has so far heard testimony from four witnesses, all of whom are from the media.
Prior to its visit to Dataran Merdeka, the panel was also given a demonstration of the actions of the FRU on the day of the rally.
“(The demonstration) was for the other panelists who have no exposure to police work, it was for them to see the FRU (in action),” he said.
The panel was formed on May 2 to investigate allegations of police brutality against protestors and media personnel during the Bersih 3.0 rally, where 24 people, including theSun reporter Radzi Razak, were badly injured in the violence that followed.
The panel’s 10-point terms of reference includes determining whether there were incidents of police brutality and unlawful arrests, as well as to review police standard operating procedures in public assembly control.
Besides Hanif, other members of the panel are former Federal Court judge Tan Sri Nik Hashim Nik Abd Rahman (who replaced former chief justice of Borneo Tan Sri Steve Shim), Kumpulan Akhbar Sinar Harian managing director Datuk Husammuddin Yaacub, Sin Chew Group legal adviser Liew Peng Chuan, and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia psychologist Prof Dr Rozmi Ismail.
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