BERSIH 2.0 overcomes the police state


We fear UMNO no more!

Malaysians and their supporters gathered in capital cities around the world today in Bersih 2.0 Global solidarity walks as the Opposition leader in their home country lay injured after a violent government crackdown on a peaceful Kuala Lumpur call for electoral reform.

An estimated 50,000 Malaysians took to the streets of KL in defiance of a government ban and even as Bersih 2.0 leaders were arrested.

Helicopters hovered over the capital amid heavy rains and Federal Reserve Unit troops blocked KL’s main arterial roads, but Malaysians proved unstoppable in their determination to stare down a belligerent government that had disallowed and demonised a public gathering for free and fair elections.

They staged an advance-retreat-advance street strategy against a massive police and riot squad presence, sustaining tear-gas and water-cannons attacks, overcoming roadblocks and the cancellation of all public transport across Malaysia’s richest urban centre.

Tear-gas canisters were also fired into Tung Shin Hospital in Jalan Pudu, KL, as riot squads targeted marchers who kept trying to avoid the roadblocks.

Developments in the violent state crackdown on the peaceful Bersih 2.0 rally were relayed to crowds across the world via Twitter, Facebook, mobile phones and wi-fi driven laptops and iPads.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar told New Mandala, “Malaysia is effectively a police state,” speaking after the riot squad attack that left her father, Anwar Ibrahim, injured.

Australian state capital cities were among the first worldwide to answer the clarion call to support the second Bersih rally in KL; the first was held in 2007.

More than 750 Malaysians and their supporters in Victorian capital Melbourne were the first Down Under to hold their Bersih 2.0 rally. By day’s end, Sydney, Canberra Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane saw politicians, union officials, Singaporeans and friendly NGO representatives add their voices to the widely embraced KL call to return democratic integrity to Malaysia’s electoral system.

Malaysian anti-Lynas campaigners from Kuantan on Malaysia’s east coast joined the Town Hall rally in Sydney’s Town Square, which saw nearly two hours of speeches, personal stories, skits and music on a wintry but sunny mid-afternoon.

As Australians joined hands with Malaysians, the Bersih 2.0 Global roll call drew in Geneva, London, Cork (Ireland), Paris, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Jakarta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.

Bersih 2.0 leaders said at least 50,000 people took to KL byways, alleys and lanes, many pouring out of hotels they had booked into days ahead to avoid having to manoeuvre past blocks on arterial roads.

National laureate A. Samad Said, arrested mid-week and later released, said at Merdeka Stadium that their rally was a “great success”.

“I have never seen all the races in Malaysia so united for one cause before,” Samad said.

Anwar Ibrahim was hurt in the head when tear-gas canisters were apparently fired directly at him.

Daughter Izzah said her father had “sustained head injuries, receiving urgent medical attention”.

“The FRU had fired tear gas canisters directly at him, and I fear for the worse,” Izzah said soon after the attack.

“YB Khalid Samad underwent six stitches at the back of his head after being hit by a tear-gas canister. They were all in the tunnel at KL Sentral in Brickfields.

“It was a blatant show of brute force by the police, under orders of the Minister for Home Affairs and the PM.

“Malaysia is effectively a police state.”

“All my sisters, my mum, my husband were with me – concerned citizens who will continue the fight alongside so many courageous others to ensure we realise a truly fair, clean and transparent election system.”

Another Bersih 2.0 walker who survived the attacks said: “I am enraged. We must vote out UMNO-anchored Barisan Nasional.

“They are liars and cheats. There is nothing honourable about them.