More and more victims have coming forward to provide rock solid video evidence as well as witness accounts of clear cut police brutality against both innocent journalists as well as ordinary Malaysians standing up for their rights. It has become clear and undeniable that the police force was on a ruthless rampage to beat people up.
The police force has gone well beyond even Malaysian norms of just using tear gas and water cannons to disperse a peaceful assembly. Members of the public who participated in the Bersih 3.0 rally who have already dispersed and were having a meal in restaurants were beaten up for wearing yellow shirts. Some who were already in an LRT station to return home were chased, arrested and taken to narrow alleys to be beaten up silly.
In fact, anyone caught by the police force taking pictures of others being beaten up, were also beaten up badly. It did not matter if some of these individuals were media personnel, local or foreign; or ordinary Malaysians.
Mohd Haijan Omar, who was assigned by Lawyers for Liberty to monitor the event was beaten up by the Police. If even the officers of the Court are not immune to police brutality, then what chance does an ordinary member of the public has against a police force out of control?
These are not isolated cases of police brutality. The police force was acting like unrestrained mobsters, often with 10 or more police officers beating up an individual or two. It will not be an understatement to say that the police were creating a riot in the city. The very people who were entrusted to protect innocent and ordinary Malaysians were turning on them.
While no Malaysian will blame the police for arresting those who damaged police or public property, such as the single incident of half a dozen people badly damaging a police vehicle, there is absolutely no justification for them to threaten and beat up every person they found in yellow, even if they were participating in the rally earlier.
This is especially since all who were beaten up were assembling peacefully and did not commit any acts of violence or vandalism. Do the police have a license to beat up any person in the street as they like regardless of whether a crime has been committed? Has our police force degenerated to become worse than the Gestapo?
The newly gazetted Peaceful Assembly Bill was meant to guarantee our constitutional right to assemble peacefully. Those who breach public order destroy public property must be dealt with the full force of the law. However, those who have assembled peacefully have committed no crime, were victimised with shocking ruthlessness and many were wrongfully arrested.
The unprecedented brutality by the police force requires the Prime Minister as well as the Home Minister to give an immediate and public apology to all ordinary Malaysians, especially the innocent journalists and Bersih participants who were wounded and traumatised by a police force gone beserk.
Nothing short of such an apology will be acceptable especially since it was the Prime Minister himself who has denied the Malaysian public to gather peacefully in Dataran Merdeka, which will have prevent any need for the unnecessary face-off with the police force. The decision by the BN Government is an unmitigated disaster, and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who portrays himself as a reformist premier must take full responsibility for the Police fiasco.