The most violent and largest rally i ever attended!
BERSIH 3.0 : The Most Largest and Violent rally I ever attended.
By K. Sudhagaran Stanley
It took me 1 week before i could recover from the Bersih Rally to write my experience. Like every other Malaysian, I was there that day, to demand for free and fair elections. I was there because I personally had noticed how the government was trying to stay on to power by cheating in the elections. I was in contact before with hundreds of refugees from Myanmar, whom had showed me their Malaysian IC, obtained to vote in the G.E. This dirty tactic by the Malaysian Government is unacceptable and must be opposed and revealed.
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the 27th Night and straight away head to Dataran after learning that hundreds of protesters have started to gather there. Upon arriving, I join in the crowds chanting Bersih, Bersih and Hidup Rakyat. It was a mixed crowd of Chinese, Malays and Indians. The whole area was fenced up with barbed wire and plastic dividers. In the crowd, I noticed that there were a few Non-Bersih style protesters. These were young Malay youths whom were provoking the police and trying to start a fight with them. I drew closer to them and was surprised to notice that they were on alcohol influence. I then tried to calm the others and advice them not to join in the provocation. The crowd was smart enough and distanced themselves from these Non-Bersih Style protesters. They chosed to be calm and peaceful. I left with a puzzle in my mind on who could these youths be?
28th April 2012, was de’ day I was waiting for. I arrived in Masjid Jamek at around 11pm and was surprised to see the large turnout before the rally begun. The crowd at that time was already exceeding the numbers in Bersih 2.0. I walked around Jalan T.A.R, and noticed that the whole environment was a carnival type. People were with happy faces, smiling, greeting each other, singing and dancing on the streets. They had hoped to send a strong message to the government in a peaceful and happy manner. Thousands of Police were seen on the streets. To my surprise, there were no water cannons and F.R.U personals on the streets except for inside dataran.
I then leaded a crowd in one section, into singing the national anthem and chanting bersih. I was moved by the presence of mix races that had united for a cause on that day. I was even more surprised to see thousands of Chinese Malaysians present there that afternoon. The Chinese were previously not interested in these things. I believe that they have finally come to realize how the UMNO government had systematically oppresses their rights over the years and cheated on them. This struggle is an important one for all Malaysians. The UMNO Government had succeeded over the years in dividing the nation through race politics and creating hatred among the many races in Malaysia. This was Mahathir’s master plan to stay in power. But Bersih has succeeded in breaking through those barriers and reuniting the races in Malaysia as one family or Anak Bangsa Malaysia.
At around 1.45pm, we started to march together with the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters towards dataran. Upon arriving near to dataran, Ambiga had clearly stated that we have met our objectives for the day which is to send a strong message to the government for free and fair elections. Immediately after that, she announced that the rally is over and ordered all the protesters to disperse. But just as how I felt, the crowd were not satisfied and wanted to pursue their original plan, that is to enter Dataran for the duduk bantah “ sit and protest”.
I must say that Ambiga had tried her best to convince the crowd on not to enter Dataran. But she could not. It was no longer Ambiga’s rally but the people one. The rakyat has been fooled over and over again by the UMNO government and this time we were no longer able to tolerate this dirty game.
The Government has just passed the new assembly bill. But four days before the protest, the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur had rejected Bersih’s request to hold the rally in Dataran. The reason given by him was that it was not a suitable venue. Dataran was the only open air and historical ground that could accommodate such a big crowd that day. But he refused to allow the rally and instead offered two other stadiums which was far away from the city and cannot be easily accessed by public transport. Bersih had then rejected the offer and stood to its original plan. Two days before the rally, a court order was obtained by the police to prevent anyone from entering Dataran. Now the police has already got a reason to push protesters away to honor the court order.
They then offered Stadium Merdeka which is closer to the city at the very last minute knowing that Bersih will definitely not take up the offer because it could confuse the public on the venue and the stadiums won’t be enough to fit the hundreds of thousands on the streets that day. This was clearly a political drama. The government just wanted to create a situation to make bersih look bad and attack the protesters. This is an old style of the corrupted UMNO regime in Malaysia.
The crowd that day knew how the government is fooling around and wanted to move forward into dataran to show the government that the people are in control and that we are serious in our call for free and fair elections. It is simple, when the law is bad, unjust and created on evil intentions, break it and face the consequences! This was what we wanted to do on that day. Enter Dataran, Duduk dan Bantah!
Just as a small number of people succeeded in moving away the barricades and ran inside towards dataran, tear gas was fired into the air. I was far away from the barricades at that time. Note that the crowd was huge and unable to run but only walk slowly. The tear gas was intentionally fired in front and at the back of us, preventing us from running away, but to inhale the gas. I was chocked with the gas, my eyes was burning, my skin was burning, I could not see, but forced myself to walk away slowly to a safer area.
I taught of giving up and just fall on the ground, but something kept on telling me in my mind, run, run and I knew it was Jesus. People were collapsing beside me, falling on the ground and drain as they were trying to move away from the gas. It was terrible. The police did not stop but continued to fire more tear gas, some aimed directly at the protesters.
To make matters worse, the L.R.T system was shut down, the bus and taxi service was not entering town, preventing people from moving out from the City. It was very clear, that the police was just waiting for a reason to attack the peaceful protesters and not allow them to move out.
Upon reaching the sogo complex, the scene was more chaotic. There were a bunch of Non-Bersih style protesters, whom I believe some of them are instigators and trouble makers creating chaos at the rally as to create a bad image towards Bersih. These instigators were throwing whatever they had such as stones and bottles towards two police vehicle that were passing by the streets.
Due to the anger of being abused by the police earlier, inhaling the tear gas and being sprayed by the water cannons, a small number of people picked up on that momentum and started to follow what the instigators were doing. The stones cracked both the car’s windscreen and side windows. Some of the objects were hit at the police whom were driving the car. The first car managed to speed away, but the second car did not. The driver was seriously injured in the head after being hit by objects thrown by the protesters. He lost control over his car and rammed into a few protesters and then hit a wall.
The protesters were not injured badly and managed to slip away as the car was heading towards them, but the police was seriously injured. He was then pulled out from his car and the instigators continued whacking him. A reporter whom went to the scene in aid of the police was also beaten up terribly.
This is clearly a non Bersih-style action! The evidence, look back at how peaceful were previous Bersih events. There was no reason for Bersih to react in this manner. Everyone knew, who these instigators were and by whom they are hired. We have seen in previous oppositions and Ngo’s events, how the UMNO hired thugs would storm in and create havoc in the event. Violence is their way.
As I was walking away from the crash area, another traffic police officer appears in his superbike. He was then targeted again by the instigators and non -bersih style protesters. They started to throw bottles and rocks at him. He immediately stopped and took out his gun aiming at protesters whom were trying to throw objects at him. I ran for shelter fearing that he might mistakenly shoot towards me. The other protesters also ran away. If he had not taken out his gun, I think he would have also crashed into something and his injuries would have been more serious or probably even die. Thank God he did not shoot but left after that. He was only a traffic police whom was not involved in the assault against the public.
It was chaos around the lanes leading to dataran. Police were chasing after protesters and beating them up terribly. Whenever they managed to nab a protester, around ten to twenty police officers would be whacking the protesters till he is knocked out. The protesters and journalist whom were trying to record the whole incident were also beaten up and their digital equipment broken into pieces. There were also reports of lawyers being beaten up. The police were the gangsters and rowdies of the day. It was a horrifying scene to see protesters shed with blood on their body and faces injured being beaten by the police.
After much of running around, “Cat and Mouse game” and inhaling of the gas, I was tired and decided to quit the rally. I and my friends entered into a restaurant to have our dinner. It was around 6.30pm when we arrived at the Arenaa Dinner restaurant located in Jalan Tun Perak. We were there for ½ hour when suddenly a few police officers whom were chasing after protesters outside the restaurant noticed me sitting inside, wearing a Bersih t/shirt.
They then came towards the restaurant to get me. The restaurant owner had earlier locked all the doors preventing anyone from entering it. Around twenty police officers kicked the glass door and was trying to break it open to get me. I was terrified. The anger and the evil look on their faces were so clear that I started praying in my heart for God to intervene. My two friends at the restaurant was also pleading with the police from inside to stop kicking the glass door and get away.
They then shouted for me to get out from there and surrender. I knew, if I had went out, I would have been beaten to my death by this rowdies. I refused to get out from there and went to the back of the restaurant to change my bersih t/shirt. As I went to the back, I accidently opened the back door of the restaurant thinking it was a toilet. At that very moment the police officer was coming to the back and saw me open the door. I immediately tried to close the door. Around 5 of them were forcing the door against me and managed to open it. My finger was slightly cut by the door in the process. They then entered to get me, but were distracted by a few other protesters outside the restaurant whom were running away, they then headed towards them, and the door was closed, locked. Thank God for that.
I remained in the restaurant for about one hour before leaving. The tourist and other guest whom were in the restaurant were terrified by the police action. There was even a reporter inside at that time, but he could not take out his camera to snap pictures fearing that if the police get in, they will break his camera. For the first time ever, I felt scared being in my own country. The police were so unprofessional and violent.
As I was leaving back home, I was so relieved to have get away from them. The images of the rowdy police, protesters being beaten up, the car ramming into the wall, the tear gas and water cannons was all playing in my mind. What a shameful day for the Malaysian Government. It was clear that what is being preached by them and the entire transformation program by Najib is merely words and a make up to win the coming G.E.
As expected, the report by the mainstream media that night and the days to follow systematically tried to bring a bad image and blame bersih for all the violence. Claims such as the opposition took over Bersih, Bersih is a communist group and is trying to bring down the government, Bersih caused losses in millions to traders and the municipal council was all a way to create hatred towards bersih and clamp down more on us. This is nothing new, as we have seen how the government had always responded with uprising movements. Bersih, Hindraf, PSM and many other uprising movements in the past are always linked with terrorist or communist movement. This is a way used to instill fear in the public and excuse to clamp down the movement. But they have failed to understand that the people are no more idiots.
We have awakened and we demand for change!! We will no longer tolerate lies, injustices, corruption, abuses and evil acts. We will decide on the future of this country. The main call to free and fair elections must be adhered. We will continue to rise if the government fails to fulfill our demands. We are now stronger because we have united! United as one family. One Malaysian Family!
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia,
K. Sudhagaran Stanley
Human Rights Activist!