Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur Occupy camp ambushed by thugs

Occupy Dataran Merdeka camp in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: selangorku.com

At 2.36am, in the early hours of April 19, the student and Occupy Dataran encampment in Kuala Lumpur was violently ambushed by a big group of men. After the ambush, everyone sat down, and victims of violence started to tell stories of what happened. Here is a brief summary of the stories.

Everything started at 2.36am. A group of people on motorbikes rode in and parked. They walked towards the field and started shouting. From the fountain, another group of people came and started pulling and breaking tents, which were occupied by people fast asleep. There were about 60 people from this aggressive group. There were around 40-50 people who were part of the encampment, both students and non-students.

In one incident, a woman in one of the tents was violently attacked — her head was kicked while she was still in the tent. They also shouted while hitting her tent.

They kicked a few tents and shouted at people to get out. A few people (non-students) were dragged from the edge of the camp to the field and beaten up. One guy was held in a chokehold and made to surrender his camera. He was dragged away.

One woman was holding a camera, and they pulled her bag, took her camera and smashed it onto the ground.
Another woman who was walking back to the camp from the direction of the fountain took out her camera and started filming. Around 15 people surrounded her and one man snatched her camera. They shouted and pushed her to the ground until she let go of her camera. After she got up, another man pulled her bag and pushed her around.

One man followed behind the police and started filming. His camera was snatched and stamped on.

One man was in a tent, opened it, heard people shouting and managed to get out of the tent before they pulled the tent down. He sat at the mats with a few people and the attackers started provoking them to get a reaction. They dragged another man off the mat and beat him up.

The attackers threw food around, destroyed all the tents and took the donation boxes.

One man was dragged to the street and beaten up by five people because he had a camera in his bag.

One woman was picked on and called a lesbian.

About 5 police cars came — but they did nothing.

One man wearing a kopiah was slapped twice. When he asked what was happening, he was beaten, called pukimak and was taunted that he would never get into heaven.

One guy tried to take a photo with his iPad, and they hit him and tried to take his iPad.

A few people saw a man in plainclothes carrying a revolver. We could not ascertain whether he was a Special Branch officer.

A man identified one of the individuals in the attacking group as a member of United Malays National Organisation Youth [which is part of the Barisan Nasional coalition that rules Malaysia].

After the ambush, campers cleaned up the place. We collectively decided that we would not be intimidated by the violence and that we would sit peacefully to defend Dataran Merdeka as the people’s square, and our right to occupy it peacefully.

[Republished from Loyarburok.com. Send messages of solidarity to Occupy Dataran on Twitter and Facebook.]


Comments

By S.Arutchelvan
Secretary-general, Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)

Since 14th. April 2012, the Malaysian student movement have occupied Dataran Merdeka in a real sense. They have put up tents, stayed put and are keeping on the fight beyond the imagination of many including myself. They may be small in numbers but their determination is surely big. The student movement have definitely grown in bravery and their action seems to gain support by the day.

14th April had its significant in Malaysian history and it was called Black 14. On April 14, 1999, Anwar was sentenced to 6 years jail. The day was marked with huge protest, Two years after that in 2001, ten reformasi activist were arrested under the ISA as they were planning a huge protest on Black 14. The ISA arrest in 2001, gave birth to GMI- Abolish ISA Movement.

Therefore April 14 continue to remain an important date to remember. Not many would have realised that the student Anti PTPTN and free education rally on 14 April 2012 is going to be a significant event. Not until the students declared that they are going to stay put or occupy Dataran till 28 April to greet BERSIH3. While BERSIH3 is not getting the same reaction like BERSIH2, when the Goverment did huge arrest and clampdown before the event including the arrest of PSM activist under the Emergency ordinance; yet the Student occupy movement seems to brighten our days leading to BERSIH3.

The students and young people have put up with the weather, with the DBKL enforcement units and very recently, with the UMNO led thugs. Their determination to go on till the 28 April is a high order. Every day or every second, they feel that there is going to be a clamp-down, an attack, a raid, an arrest and a wipe out. But these students and young people stay put. They have raised the bar in our democratic struggle. They have declared the small space in Dataran Merdeka as University Dataran Merdeka, where they hold lectures, discussion and plan strategies. It is a tedious and monotonous job to gather people round the clock, but they have managed to keep it up, at times with less than 5 people around.

Of course the struggle of today cannot be compared with the huge uprisings in the mid 1940s spearheaded by the left and movement such as the PUTERA-AMCJA which organised the HARTAL 1947, the Socialist front continued these traditions in the 60s, in the 70s, The UM Socialist Club led by people like Hishamuddin Rais lead the student movement to its golden era of resistance and class struggle.

After the 1969 May day incident and the demise of the Socialist front, Malaysia’s political landscape took a more communal approach rather than a class approach. Yet time to time, many groups came and expressed their frustration against the system including the Chinese Educationist movement as well as single issues movement like the protest against ARE in Bukit Merah and the Penan Blockade in saving their livelihood.

The democratic movement was weak and after Operasi Lallang in 1987 and under Mahathirism, every Public Institution was controlled and tainted. During this period, if more than 5 people were to assemble, then it is an achievement. In the early nineties, it was people like Dr. Nasir and Selvam who created democratic space among the urban settlers and plantation workers. They organised demonstration as well as fought evictions in urban areas. Things changed dramatically in 1998, the reformasi movement took centre stage and who can forget the September 20 gathering at Dataran Merdeka. A huge clampdown followed after this. Section 27 of the Police Act was rampantly used against activist and groups. The Reformasi movement failed but it kept a lasting memory and build a new brand of street activists called reformist.

In 2007, demonstration of Bar Council’s walk to freedom, BERSIH and Hindraf created significant mood for the 2008 Tsunami to take place. If it was not for the radicalisation of the masses, it would not have been so easy for the opposition to win many seats including winning in 5 States. The Badawi’s administration was much lenient in the use of power but continued to clampdown on public assemblies. In spite of that, huge demonstration like the Anti ISA demonstration in 2009 continued to rock the capital. It seems that the warnings, court orders and the tear gases have yet to tame or frighten the people. Each time, the police or the Home Minister makes an announcement asking people not to attend an assembly, it just builds the momentum.

2011 is yet a significant year with BERSIH2, EO6 and occupy Dataran, all happening one after another. The ruling elites fierce reaction in using the police on the BERSIH2 and PSM’s EO6 back fired. The Malaysian people continued to rule the streets and cherish their democratic freedom with more activism. Many new democratic groups emerged after BERSIH2. They started to gather and express their freedom. Nobody seems to apply for a permit as such it became obsolete it applying for a police permit.

Under this backdrop, Najib trying very hard to win back some support, made some reforms. He had no choice. He called for the ISA to be repealed, amended the Police Act on Illegal Assembly, amended the Colleges and university Act as well as Printing Presses Act. If Najib was in an opinion, that this will quench the thirst of the democratic movement, he is dead wrong. Armed with social media such as facebook and twitter, the people movement continued to show character and advancement.

A group of young people calling themselves Occupy Dataran gather every Saturday without fail. They get chased from time to time by the police and the DBKL, only to return again the next week. An environmental movement was born in Kuantan and the anti Lynas protest seem to once again built a huge peoples’ movement and successfully organised huge rallies called Himpun.

From the struggle of just gathering around in a static place, the current demonstration has moved to a rally concept. There seems to be more and more rallies compared to assemblies today. These are the achievements and the sign of the maturity of the movement. This year we saw how Himpun2 as well as Women Day rallies. BERSIH3 an May Day will once again see more people organised rallies.

Now the student movement, have moved the democratic bar higher with their determination to stay put and continue to occupy Dataram till the 28 february. Will they succeed or will they be crushed? Whatever it is, they have made their point and have raised the bar. They have brought new meaning and new breath to our movement.

It is the continuous process of empowering and building the democratic movement which is going save this country. While we wait for BERSIH3, let us enjoy this new space our young people have created.

S.Arutchelvan

11pm, 19 April 2012