Update from SUARAM @ 5.09pm:
The 60 cyclists and activists who were arrested yesterday (15/12/08) at Balai Polis Rawang have been relased today. The cyclists have been relased this morning after their parents arrival. Meanwhile the JERIT activists have been released around 3am. They were charged under the Police Act for illegal procession, and under the Child Act for abusing children.
SUARAM strongly condemns the police for their ongoing attacks and intimidation on freedom of expression, a fundamental right which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. We demand the Malaysian government to allow the cyclist to continue cycling and practice their freedom of expression as stated in Federal Constitution.
We warn the Police to immediately retract its threat to arrest cyclists at Parliament on Thursday.
This is an alert from JERIT, update at 1.00pm, Malaysian time:
Parents of 26 below 18 cyclists are not allowed into the police station to get their children out. Police are blocking them from entering the police station.
Please give pressure to the CPO : 019-2408647/ OCPD : 03-61262222
Some personal account of those who were in Rawang, received 11.00am, written by Sivarajan:
A day that saw an incident free day of cycling took a turn at Rawang . We arrived in Rawang at about 4.30pm. We were supposed to meet up with YB ADUN Rawang, Gan Pei Nei at Rawang Jaya . She and her delegation planned to cycle with the JERIT convoy from there to Rawang town.
But a roadblock greeted us at Rawang . As usual the police requested for names and IC of all the cyclist and coordinator. We intervened and told the police that it is not necessary to record names and addresses of all cyclist as we have a list that we can give it to them.
After much argument we took back all the IC of the cyclist and gave the coordinators IC to record . Myself ,Sugu, Saras,Rani ,Mohan gave our IC to be recorded . The IC were returned after recording. But my IC changed hands to another officer .
Soon the police received new directions. The bus was to held and myself and the coordinators were asked to come to the balai . Eventhough we managed to get the cyclist to continue to cycle , but they were stopped again further ahead .
As the cyclist met up YB Gan Pei Nei group , they were stopped from cycling to town .
After some negotiations by Gan Pei Nei , the convoy proceeded into town . They cycled around Rawang town and stopped at a coffee shop for a drink .
Myself ,Sugu and Saras made our way to the balai polis . At the balai , Saras immediately checked on the 7 junior cyclist in the bus that was brought in to the balai . The police were already intimidating the children, asking them questions. Some officers also asked the cyclist if Dr.Kumar had paid them money to participate in the campaign.They harassed the cyclist who were in the bus .
Saras and Sugu intervened and chased out the officers from the bus . I met up with Gan Pei Nei who then arrived at the balai . We went over to see the OCPD , Abdul Rahim . He was asking the same stupid questions ,whether did we get a permit to cycle. He said ,it does not matter if other OCPD have allowed the cyclist , but we supposedly should have seeked his permission in his district .
OCPD instructed all the bicyclist to be brought to the balai . We objected and said that we have given all the names and there was no need to have any statements taken .
Later the OCPD instructed statements to be taken from all the 7 cyclist that were already in the bus. He said that he wanted to verify if there were under aged children being abused . I followed them. Informed the officers that they cannot take statement, and we will not give statement . The cyclist will only give their details only .
Soon all the cyclist were already brought in the balai . Dr.Kumar arrived shortly . I and Dr.Kumar met up with the OCPD . He still insisted that he wanted to take statements from all the cyclist. We showed him that we have consent letters from all the parents . We gave the police a copy . After much negotiations ,we agreed poiice to record details of all the cyclist accompanied by us . As this was going on , I was taken by the OCPD to his room . He explained that he still considered that the event was a procession .
He confirmed that I will be charged under Section 27 of the police Act’ illegal assembly’. Kumar also had his statements taken later .
At this moment , we were quite sure that all will be released after giving the details to the police . This was when matters took a turn , when the Selangor CPO arrived , Dato Khalid .
Immediately the CPO ,OCPD and other officers went for taklimat. About an hour later the CPO arrogantly came down and announced that all 50 cyclist and all the 15 coordinators will be arrested . We were gathered at the parking lot. They put a yellow tape around us .All those below 18 years old were separated from the seniors .
By this time a crowd of supporters were already swelling outside the balai . A candle light vigil began . Makkal Sakti slogans and songs were sung . There were also PKR , DAP and PAS members .
The police made arrangements for the welfare officers to take the junior cyclist away .They would be then handed ‘safely’ to their parents.
The police went all out to harass us . Edmund Bon , lawyer informed us that the police were going to expel the permit and the driving licences of all the lorry drivers and bas driver. JPJ officials also arrived. They examined the bus , lorry , looking for something to issue summon on .The driving licences and road tax of the lorry and bus were taken away .
As protest outside gathered momentum , a complete battalion of FRU ,Water cannon arrived . The crowd outside carried on chanting and demanding for our release. As they were about to use the water cannon, the rain poured heavily. The police did not use the water cannon .
As rain kept pouring heavily , the car park where all of us who were being detained began flooding . All of us were standing cold in a river of water . We demanded to be shifted out of the parking lot . As usual the police buat tak tahu . Tempers flared . I moved to rip of the yellow police tape and walk out of the parking lot . The rest followed. A fight pursued between us and the police as they were trying to push us back into the parking lot and we were moving out . The officers couldn’t stop us .
The Light Strike Force rushed in . They pushed us back with their shield and batons . The CPO looked and couldn’t do anything . Immediately the police brought all the cyclist below 18 years of age into a dry place at the balai meeting room upstairs .
As this was happening , we were also amazed at the 300 0ver crowd outside that stood in the heavy rain and did not budge . FRU cordoned the police station entrance . The welfare officers couldn’t find a place to take the junior cyclist , thus they stayed at the meeting room . The junior cyclist told the police they refuse being brought away by the welfare officers and they rather remain arrested with the others
At about 2 am , I and Kumar were given the bail sheets . Soon the rest were being taken details and issued bail sheets . Some comrades spent the nite with the junior cyclist at the balai meeting room .
At about 3.30 am all walked out of the balai polis Rawang . It was a eventful nite .
Alert received at 22.19 hours:
Updated news : balai Polis Rawang :
26 cyclist under 18 are being taken to welfare department
30 cyclists and activists are being taken to lock-up ; charged for illegal assembly.
Until now food is not given to them. Food brought by friends are being rejected by the police, kononnya ada racun dlm makanan.
CAll the CPO Dato Khalid to pressure : 019-2408647
The police are going to arrests all cyclists ( 37 of them ) and all JERIT activists despite giving assurance yesterday that the campaign can go on.
The polis konnonya want to see the details of the cyclists and check with their parents whether they really gave consent and all that.
They are not even allowing the cyclist to have lunch first. They are insisting they want to arrest now and bring to the Balai.
Most probably they will be brought to Balai Polis Kajang : 03- 87362222
Please call and pressure the OCPD.
For more updates, see HARIS IBRAHIM.