I was born on the prairies, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures. [GERONIMO]
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Aussie Senator teargassed in M'sia, Anwar's daughter chased into mosque
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has had teargas fired in his direction during a demonstration for electoral reforms in central Kuala Lumpur.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators swamped the Malaysian capital on Saturday to demand the reforms, ahead of national polls expected soon.
Senator Xenophon, who is in Kuala Lumpur on an international fact-finding mission on election processes in Malaysia, was among the crowds when police fired teargas and chemical-laced water at demonstrators.
Until then it had been a peaceful rally that had included chanting and a speech by Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Senator Xenophon told AAP by telephone.
"The police have just let off canister after canister of teargas," he said soon after the demonstration was broken up.
"People have been injured. People are fainting."
Those targeted included the opposition leader's daughter, Iman Anwar, 22.
She believes police who recognised her deliberately fired a canister in her direction.
Accompanied by one of her father's bodyguards, she ran to a nearby mosque to seek shelter.
"But they were still shooting at us, so we decided to walk in another direction," she said.
The demonstrators had defied a lockdown of central Kuala Lumpur that left it a maze of razor wire and barricades.
"This is a country that the Australian government is happy to do refugee swaps with," Senator Xenophon said.
"It raises serious questions over how authoritarian it is."
Saturday's rally was one of Malaysia's biggest street rallies in recent years, reflecting concerns that Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition - which has held power for more than 50 years - will have an unfair upper hand in elections that could be called as early as June.
Activists have alleged that the election commission is biased and claimed that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent voters.
Senator Xenophon is one of two Australian delegates taking part in the fact-finding mission.
The other delegates are from Germany, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, Turkey and Tunisia.
The group were invited to Kuala Lumpur by Mr Anwar.