Monday, December 10, 2007

Bersih memo: Six top opposition leaders, 12 others arrested

Dec 11

Six top opposition leaders were among 18 arrested this morning for trying to deliver a Bersih memorandum to Parliament on the extension of the Election Commission chief's retirement age.

Among those arrested were PKR information chief Tian Chua, party secretary-general Khalid Ibrahim, PAS treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli and party committee member Dr Lo'Lo' Ghazali, and Parti Socialist Malaysia pro-tem chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim and secretary-general S Arutchelvan.

According to eyewitnesses, the police surrounded Tian Chua’s vehicle and forcibly removed him before arresting him at about 10.40am. Another person in the car was also detained.

Chua had failed to stop at the roadblock and had insisted on moving forward before the police swooped in on him.

About 10 minutes later, Arutchelvan and another identified person were arrested for trying to break the police cordon. The PAS leaders were arrested shortly after.

At about noon, Khalid arrived in Jalan Parliament where he talked briefly to the press gathered just outside the Parliament gates.

"I don't think we will be able to submit a memorandum today. Our main piority now is to help those detained,' he told journalists.

A plainclothes police officer showed him the restraining court order which the Sentul police had obtained yesterday and ordered Khalid to leave.

Subsequently Khalid went to his car. While on his way there, Sentul district police chief ACP Ahmad Sofian Md Yassin instructed one of his men to arrest the PKR leader.

All those arrested have been sent to the Kuala Lumpur contingent police headquarters. Bersih activists said that those arrested include a teenager aged 13.

Rare restraining order

It is further learnt that the police have surrounded opposition party PAS headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut to stop people from leaving the building for Parliament.

According to a statement this morning by the party, five patrol cars and a Federal Reserve Unit have been positioned around the building.

The police also pasted a copy of the restraining order at the building to warn people not to participate in today's event.

The police have blocked all roads leading to Parliament to prevent members of polls reform group Bersih from submitting a protest memorandum against a proposed constitutional amendment.

Yesterday, they obtained a rare restraining court order - the second of its kind following one to ban the Nov 25 Hindraf rally - prohibiting four named individuals and other Bersih supporters from attending or taking part in the gathering.

The named persons are PAS leaders Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi, Mohamad Sabu and Adenaan Saad and Malaysian Trade Union Congress chief Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud.

The order also stipulated that "other interested parties" are similarly prohibited from taking part in the gathering. It allows the police to 'arrest on sight' those found in the vicinity of Parliament House.

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