Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 

Bloody Sunday: No decision by Suhakam

(Dari Malaysiakini)

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz and Wong Yeen Fern
Jun 12, 06 6:07pm


Representatives from political parties and non-governmental organisations today walked out just five minutes into a meeting with the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) over the ‘Bloody Sunday’ incident.

They were disappointed when Suhakam chairperson Abu Talib Othman announced that the commission needed more evidence before deciding on whether it should conduct a public inquiry into ‘alleged police brutality’ at a demonstration late last month.

According to him, the commission would wait for the conclusion of an internal police investigation into the matter and see if anyone would be charged over the incident.

“We cannot hold a public inquiry if there is a court action. That would be an exercise in futility,” he said.

Abu Talib (second from right) also said Suhakam needed ‘credible’ evidence and testimonies from witnesses to determine if there was any ground for initiating an inquiry.

Clear evidence needed

He claimed that the grievances expressed so far were “hearsay” and “emotional” rants from the injured parties and public.

According to him, evidence and statements from the police investigation and witnesses would help to formulate “the terms of reference” of the public inquiry.

“We need clear evidence that what is alleged in the memorandum can be supported by credible witnesses.

“We cannot investigate every damn thing that you people want us to investigate,” he added when pressed by Human Rights Society of Malaysia (Hakam) secretary-general Elizabeth Wong on the evidence in the memorandum submitted by the victims of the incident.

On May 28, the police, armed with baton and shields, bludgeoned and kicked a number of protestors when dispersing the 500-strong group, which was protesting against recent price hikes in fuel and electricity.

Two were seriously injured - one requiring five stitches on his head while another suffered from a broken arm.

Also voicing displeasure with Abu Talib’s stand was Suaram secretariat member S Arutchelvan.

He argued that investigating the truth behind the allegations of police brutality was exactly the mandate of the public inquiry.

“We need the inquiry to find out the truth. If you don’t hold the inquiry, how would you know?” he asked.

“If you are not interested to hold an inquiry, then we also are not interested in sitting here,” he told the Suhakam commissioner.

Abu Talib responded by saying, “Then you're invited to leave.” The 30-odd representatives then walked out of the room.

Earlier, the same group had staged a demonstration at the Suhakam office in Kuala Lumpur to press the commission to hold the inquiry.

'We don't want excuses'

Met after the walkout, Arutchelvan dismissed Abu Talib’s statements as “nonsense”. He also accused the Suhakam chairperson of insulting human rights organisations.

“There is no commitment on the part of Suhakam to hold a public inquiry. We don’t want excuses and we don’t want to hear any of this nonsense,” he thundered.

On the other hand, Abu Talib described the walkout as “a demonstration of bias on the part of the parties”. He added that they were being unfair to the police.

“We cannot deal with a person who is so emotional. Everybody has a right to speak, a right to be heard and to impartiality,” he told reporters.

Commissioner N Siva Subramaniam who had previously met Inspector-General of Police Mohd Bakri Omar to relay Suhakam’s concerns over the Bloody Sunday incident, stressed that the commission “had not dismissed the holding of an inquiry.”

He also said that Suhakam had written a letter to Dang Wangi district police chief Kamal Pasha “for clarification” on the incident.

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