It is now relatively calm after yesterday’s Bersih 2.0 rally. As I read news about the rally, I can’t help but reflect upon it.
One man died in the rally. He fell while running from tear gas fired by the police. This means that the police are responsible for his death. The police confirmed that a total of 1,667 people were arrested. Among the arrested were 16 children. Why did the police arrest children? Is it to put fear into them? The police tell us that 5,000 people marched in the rally. Pictures of the rally show us otherwise. If 5,000 people had marched in the rally and the police had managed to arrest one-fifth of them, it is no wonder the police received praise for being efficient and doing their job well! Only the naïve and ignorant will believe that 5,000 people marched in the rally.
In a bid to boost their public image, the police posted pictures in Facebook of detainees enjoying buffet meals. They are obviously trying to counter allegations against them about brutality. When I read the news from the mainstream media and watch videos of the rally in the mainstream TV channels, there is not a single picture of police kicking and beating protestors. I can only find these pictures on websites of the alternative media and foreign news sites. It seems that the government and police are trying to hide from us what the whole world sees.
The newspapers are filled with negative reports against Bersih. The politicians and police tell us that Bersih 2.0 was an opposition agenda. They tell the people that Bersih 2.0 is stirring racism sentiments. Judging by the handful of comments made in Twitter against Bersih 2.0, some people do believe them.
We are being told that the marchers provoked the police. Pictures and stories that are being told by those who marched tell us otherwise. Apparently, the police were the ones in riot. They charged and fired against a group of people marching peacefully. They chased, clubbed with batons, kicked and arrested peaceful protestors.
Bersih 2.0 is not about any opposition party. It is about electoral reforms. Unlike in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other Arab countries, the people of Malaysia are not demanding that the government step down. All we are asking is that the government give us clean, free and fair elections. Why is that wrong?
I wonder why Bersih did not become a trending topic in Twitter. Twitter was a widely used method of communication during the rally. There are thousands of tweets with the Bersih tags. A few tweeters speculated that it might be because Twitter had censored Bersih from becoming a trending topic. I hope it isn’t true. If it is true, Twitter is suppressing freedom of speech.
The behavior of the government and police of Malaysia have left many Malaysians upset. We were peaceful and yet you, the very ones who are supposed to protect us citizens, bore down on us violently. You will receive payback time in the next elections.
Image description: Screenshot of #bersihstories in Twitter.