Bernama reported that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Ismail Omar has apologised to Malay Mail cameraman, Muhammad Arif Kartono for being “roughed up” by the police during the Bersih rally.
Muhammad Arif has testified in the Malay Mail on 30 April that he was hit hard on the head with a baton or a fist causing him to fall to the ground together with his camera. He had said that “while on the ground, I saw seven to eight police personnel coming towards me. They kicked me in my face and on my legs, and stomped on my back” causing multiple injuries to the head and body.
The IGP reportedly said “The police apologises for the incident. In the chaos of the situation we could not tell the difference between the assembly participants and media”
The above statement is a complete lie and shows that the IGP is still not willing to embrace the truth and take all necessary actions to punish the guilty police officers.
Muhammad Arif has stated very clearly that he has identified himself with his media tag to the policemen who had tried to stop him from taking photos of a Bersih participant being manhandled. Instead, he was attacked ruthlessly and repeatedly despite him crying out “Saya hanya menjalankan tugas. Kenapa saya dibuat macam ini? (I am just doing my job. Why I am being treated like this?)”.
Muhammad Arif was not the only journalist who was a victim to police violence. All other journalists who were either arrested or beaten up had identified themselves to the police with their media tag. However the police had ignored the identifications and proceeded to hit these media personnel, destroy their photography equipment and in some cases confiscated their media tags.
Hence the IGP’s statement that the police officers were not able to differentiate between assembly participants and the media” is a complete lie to protect his guilty officers. His apology is therefore clearly insincere and insufficient; as he should give an unreserved apology to the entire press corp for intimidation and abuse they have suffered as a result of reckless police action.
More importantly, the IGP is implying that had they not been journalists, then it is perfectly alright for the police officers to beat up the Bersih participants, despite the fact that most of them were not fighting the police or damaging public property. It is an absolute tragedy for this so-called democratic country that our IGP who is supposed to uphold the law and protect ordinary Malaysians see it as completely acceptable for police officers to randomly hit and injure the very people they are sworn to protect.