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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bersih HQ raided, 7 staff arrested

The police have escalated the crackdown on Bersih 2.0 by raiding its secretariat in a member-NGO's office in Section 4, Petaling Jaya.

NONEPolice officers arrived about 12.30pm, according to Maria Chin Abdullah (woman in photo), who heads the NGO Empower.

Bersih 2.0, a coalition of NGOs, has come under intense pressure to call off the July 9 rally in support of electoral reform.

Maria, who was in Parliament House at the time, said she was told the police had turned up without a warrant.

The 10-member police team, from the Selangor police contingent headquarters, was headed by one ASP Rosli.

They arrived in five unmarked cars that were heavily tinted and most were in plainclothes. A large police truck arrived later.

"When they arrived, they were aggressive and tried to break (the door) with a cutter," said a source.

NONEThey conducted a search of the office and collected all the leaflets and T-shirts found on the premises.

According to the source, the police recorded the MyKad numbers of the Empower employees.

The police also took down the MyKad numbers, names and telephone numbers of all the 20 journalists camped outside the Empower office.

At a press conference in the Parliament lobby earlier, Maria said: “I was just informed that the police are taking statements from the staff, we have no other information."

NONEShe challenged the inspector-general of police to prove that they have committed a crime and stop “such intimidation”.

Maria said 95 people have been detained to date for wearing the Bersih T-shirt and handing out leaflets on the rally.

“This is a basic human right, it's is our right to assemble peacefully and we have been stressing that it will be a peaceful march. We are not going out to create chaos as we have been accused."

Employees detained

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, who is at the Empower office, said the police had refused to show a search warrant to the employees.

"They said they would pecah masuk (break in) if not allowed in, so the staff let them in," she told reporters.

"The investigation is under Section 27(5) of the Police Act. We do not have a list of objects they are seizing."

Section 27(5) regulates assemblies, meetings and processions in relation to the absence of a police permit.

At 3.12pm, the police took away items in seven black 'garbage bags', and five boxes, as well as four banners.

About 3.30pm, the police completed their raid. Seven staff of Empower were taken to the Petaling Jaya district police station for questioning.

Reporters at the scene who had contacted Selangor CPO Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah earlier were told that the police had received information that there were activities on the premises that were in violation of the law.

Police performed monitoring work and observed that there was suspicious activity. The CID then conducted the raid, Tun Hisan was quoted as saying.

The staff were detained on suspicion of having materials carrying the Bersih 2.0 logo. The coalition is an unregistered organisation and thus cannot have a logo, he said.

Tun Hisan was also quoted as saying police would refer to the Registrar of Societies for a probe under Section 50(3) of the Societies Act.

Later, Federal CID chief Bakri Zinin confirmed that police had arrested seven people at the Bersih office.

“Police also seized 314 yellow Bersih T-shirts, 90 orange T-shirts and 136 cream T-shirts believed to have a relation to the rally,” he said.

The seven, he said, will be remanded. However, Bakri declined to state under what laws they are being investigated. - Malaysiakini

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