Saturday, July 2, 2011

The arrest contagion hits Sabah

The spate of Bersih-related arrests has now spread to Sabah and Sarawak. Seven PKR Youth members were arrested n Kota Kinabalu this morning after police received word that one of them had donned a Bersih 2.0 T-shirt.

The seven were having breakfast in a coffeeshop in Asia City at 10.40am when 60 to 70 policemen swooped down on them.

Three were wearing ordinary yellow sports T-shirts while the other three were clad in other coloured T-shirts. The seven were arrested and taken to the Karamunsing station to have their statements recorded.

PKR leader, Christina Liew, expressed astonishment over the arrests and pointed out that the group had gathered for breakfast, not for a ceramah or demonstration.

“It’s a very strange way of arresting people in a public place,” she said in a video posting on her blog. “This is a blatant abuse of power, total violation of human rights and an act of intimidation by the authorities. They have the right as citizens to gather for breakfast.”

When contacted by FMT, Liew said that the seven were still being questioned and that police have not decided whether they would be detained.

“They were not handcuffed and were allowed to call their lawyers,” she said. “I was also granted 10 minutes of private time with them at the station. We still don’t know what the exact charge is but I would be very surprised if they are detained. I fully expect them to be released within the next hour or so.”

Liew added that a 1Malaysia dinner was held in Kota Kinabalu just two nights ago which saw a gathering of hundreds of people. She wondered if that function had received a permit.

“We protest the arrest of the seven and view it as illegal,” she said. “But I hope that this incident will not make the public lose confidence in the credibility of the police to carry out their job.”

More than 120 people have been detained so far for wearing yellow T-shirts with the Bersih logo emblazoned across the front.

Opposition leaders, some of whom have been hauled up for questioning for backing Bersih’s planned rally, say the mass arrests is one of the harshest crackdowns in the country’s political history.

[Source: FMT]

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