Friday, July 8, 2011

Tomorrow's rally to go on despite leaders' ban

Jul 8, 11 11:24am

Despite the police ban on 91 Bersih leaders from entering Kuala Lumpur, Bersih 2.0 says the rally at Merdeka Stadium will proceed as planned.

NONE“There is no reason whatsoever to ban anyone from entering the city,” the Bersih 2.0 steering committee chaired by Ambiga Sreenevasan (left) said in a statement last night.

“Regardless of whether or not the government chooses to be reasonable, the rakyat are firmly resolved to ensure that their rights as patriotic Malaysians will not be curtailed.

“We will gather peacefully and look forward to seeing you at Stadium Merdeka.”

Yesterday, the police issued a restriction order on 91 individuals, including the organisers of the Bersih 2.0, Perkasa and Umno Youth rallies.

NONETop on the list are the Bersih 2.0 steering committee members, including Ambiga, Wong Chin Huat and Maria Chin Abdullah.

Also marked are Pakatan Rakyat leaders, such as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat and party deputy president Mohamad Sabu, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang and social activist Hishamuddin Rais.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali are among those from the camp opposing the walk for free and fair elections, who are also named in the list.

'KL belongs to rakyat, not government'

The committee slammed the government for the KL entry ban on the 91 individuals, as a rights violation.

“This constitutes an unwarranted denial of their freedom of movement.

NONE“The powers-that-be seem to have forgotten that our capital city, like the rest of our beloved country, belongs to all the rakyat, and not to the government.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak (left), they said, could still do the right thing and call off the ban, instead of acting in a manner “that fits the style of dictators”.

Meanwhile, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) said it was “amused” that two of its members were in the list of the 91 people barred from Kuala Lumpur, since they were already in police detention.

In a press advisory, PAS said it was “amused and shocked” to learn that M Sarasvathy and Choo Chon Kai were banned from entering the city despite being detained under the Emergency Ordinance.

Six PSM members had been detained for what police said was in relation to the planned rally, and they have not been released despite Bersih 2.0 having compromised and accepted the government's offer to hold the rally in a stadium.

If necessary, we'll rally outside the stadium

NONEAccording to Bersih representative Andrew Khoo, if necessary they would hold the demonstration outside Stadium Merdeka.

"We are heading for the stadium," he told AFP.

"We will keep our focus on the basic demands... which is to campaign for free and fair elections. We won't be distracted."

Khoo condemned the police response as a "gross over-reaction" and called for the protesters to be allowed inside the stadium to preserve safety.

"It is such a breach of the fundamental right of freedom of movement. There is no risk to public order because we have always maintained this will be a peaceful gathering," he said.

Police have insisted that Bersih picks another venue far from the federal capital.

"Merdeka Stadium, which they chose, was too close to the city centre and could create massive traffic jams and disrupt businesses," federal police chief Ismail Omar was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily.

Bersih seeks financial aid

Meanwhile, Ambiga remains steadfast in ensuring that the rally proceeds in order to “(carry) the aspirations of the rakyat for clean and fair elections”.

In a statement today, the former Bar Council president called on the rakyat to come forward with financial aide to help keep the movement alive in the face of massive challenges over the past weeks.

"We have faced massive obstacles, vilification and oppression, but inspired by the bravery of the Malaysian people, we managed to overcome them all thus far.

“Like many other steering committee members, it has been challenging personally to face threats of murder, gang rape and various other violence directed against myself and others.

“Nonetheless, we understand our responsibility in holding the line on behalf of all of you who want nothing more than a clean electoral system and a better Malaysia,” said Ambiga.

“Having key staff detained will cripple our operations in devastating ways,” she said, adding that constant harassment from the authorities has ballooned their organising costs by the day.

She said they were canvassing donations through Paypal account donations@bersih.org as well as Aliran's bank account.

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