Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nine students nabbed over campus polls protest

Nine university students have been detained during a demonstration in downtown Kuala Lumpur to protest alleged dodgy campus elections process.

The arrests were made ahead of campus polls at several public universities slated to take place tomorrow.

The nine detained were among some 200 student protestors who gathered this morning at Menara Tun Razak in Jalan Raja Laut before marching to Sogo shopping complex about half a kilometre away, where they intended to distribute flyers to the public.

student protest 230110When the group arrived at Sogo, they were asked by the police to disperse and present their identification cards. The nine were nabbed after allegedly failing to do so.

The nine detainees are Hilman Idham, Aizat Salleh, Mohammad Za'im Mustapha, Ahmad Shukri Kamarudin, Ahmad Syukri Abdul Razak, Mohammad Idris Yusoff, Fikhri Harun, Syahriul Ismail and Ridhuan Jamil, all of whom are members of students' organisations from universities around the Klang Valley.

The organisations include Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami), Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (Gamis), Gabungan Mahasiswa Bantah E-Voting (Bantah) and Pro-Mahasiswa.

They were brought to Dang Wangi district police headquarters for questioning.

March cut short

Today's arrests started when the police arrived five minutes after the students began marching from Menara Tun Razak.

The police immediately ordered the students to take down their protest banners and disperse within five minutes.

"Otherwise, we will take action against you. If you gather anywhere else, you will also be arrested," warned the police officer, who identified himself as ASP Akmal.

student protest 230110Despite the warnings, the students continue chanting “hidup mahasiswa" (long live students) and "bangkit mahasiswa" (rise up students).

The students later acceded to the police instructions and began dispersing slowly, while some of their leaders had their personal details recorded by the cops.

But the drama did not end there. The students walked over to Sogo Shopping Complex, where one of the student leaders, Aizat, give a short speech.

He called for more transparency in campus elections at higher learning institutions throughout the country.

"We have sent a memorandum to the Higher Education Ministry and we urged them to bring back campus democracy," he said, before being stopped abruptly by the police.

Banners, leaflets seized

The temperature rose a notch at about 11.20am when 10 police officers attempted to seize the protest banners from the students.

This resulted in a banner-pulling war between the police and the students, but it ended when more police officers stepped in.

"We told you to disperse and you failed to do so. Now hand over your identification cards to us," said one police officers to both Hilman and Aizat.

The duo however refused, insisting that they had agreed to disperse and needed more time to ask others to follow suit, but the police were unconvinced.

The duo were taken to a nearby police truck. Seven other students were arrested shortly after for allegedly provoking the police and for failing to disperse.

About 20 students later gathered in front of the Dang Wangi district police headquarters to press for the released of those detained.

The nine are represented by a lawyer from Legal Aid Centre, Puspawati Rosman.


No comments: