Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uthaya, 108 others arrested to quash HRP rally

Police arrested Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar and 108 others and erected roadblocks around Kuala Lumpur in the bid to stop an 'anti-racism' rally organised by it and its affiliate Hindraf in the city centre today.

NONEThe rally was also aimed at protesting the controversial 'Interlok' novel by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, which has been criticised for containing racial slurs and stereotypes against the Indian and Chinese communities.

Uthayakumar (right), who has been arrested numerous times, including as leader of the banned Hindraf, and spent 18 months in detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), was today intercepted by the police as he left his apartment in Pantai Hillpark, Kuala Lumpur, at 8am.

“He was handcuffed and taken in a white van,” said Uthayakumar's younger brother, Waythamoorthy from London in an SMS message to Malaysiakini.

hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 4According to HRP information chief S Jayathas, Uthayakumar was been brought to the Sentul district police headquarters for questioning.

It is understood that the march is to begin now from the Renaissance Hotel, which is located about one kilometre away from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).

In addition to Uthayakumar, scores of other persons suspected of being participants in the rally have also been taken in by the police this morning - seven at KLCC and 10 at the Renaissance Hotel.

hindraf rally with copsTheir identities have not yet been ascertained.

As at 10am, it has been estimated that about 100 people have been arrested in various parts of Kuala Lumpur.

The police appeared to be stopping and arresting anyone suspected as Hindraf supporters, especially Indians, who were found walking in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Many by-passers have complained that they have been stopped and their bags checked despite having nothing to do with the rally.

Kuala Lumpur locked down

hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 3Meanwhile, the police have locked down Kuala Lumpur city centre ahead of the planned demonstration.

Roadblocks, some set up as early as 5.30am, were reported on Jalan Ampang, Jalan Kepong, Jalan Cheras, Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Duta–Sungai Buloh Highway, among others.

The march was supposed to have begun at the KLCC, but plans were apparently modified following the large presence of police personnel this morning. It was announced that the march would begin at the Renaissance Hotel at the Jalan Ampang-Jalan Sultan Ismail junction.

hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 6Meanwhile, an estimated 200 uniformed and plainclothed police officers - including four trucks with Light Strike Force (LSF) personnel - have been stationed on Jalan Ampang between Avenue K and the Petronas Twin Towers.

Reporters were told to stay put near the bus stop on the KLCC side, but such directions are intermittently broken when a commotion breaks out elsewhere.

Around 9.15am, about 80 in groups of 10 to 30 HRP/Hindraf supporters marched from Renaissance Hotel towards KLCC, shouting "Makkal Sakthi" and other slogans - were arrested in front of Maya Hotel.

hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 5

Three Malaysiakini citizen journalists (CJs), Mathavan Velayutham, Thiagarajan Marrapan and one Veeramani were arrested while shooting footage of the protest.

This was despite the CJs producing their press tags to the cops and wearing their 'Citizen Journalist' T-shirts.

Mathavan, Thiagarajan and Veeramani were released about five hours later, at 6pm.

A reporter from Tamil daily Makkal Osai was also among those taken in while reporting on the event.

Kedah HRP chief Ramu Ramasamy and a Penang HRP leader were arrested. Both have been brought to the Sentul district police headquarters.

Former ISA detainee M Manoharan later clarified that Ramasamy and the Penang HRP leader were at Jinjang district police station.

HRP information chief Jayathas was then arrested around 10am and brought to the Jinjang district police headquarters.

According to a police source, 78 people had been arrested up until mid-morning.

hindraf arrests klccAmidst the commotion, a small group of students belonging to the Association of Tamil Students Malaysia, held a small demonstration on Jalan Mayang, off Jalan Ampang, near the Australian High Commission against the Interlok novel. They were dispersed without any arrests.

By about 10.20am, activity at the KLCC area appeared to have died down considerably with police personnel standing down.

The action by this time had moved to the Kootu Malai Pillayar Temple on Jalan Pudu near the Pudu bus station, where about HRP supporters and members have gathered and shouted 'Hindraf Valge!' (Long live Hindraf!) 'Haramkan Interlok!' and 'Jangan hina kaum India' (Don't insult the Indian community!)

March proceeds to Pudu IPK

hindraf rally marchersThey carried banners supporting their anti-racism and anti-Interlok campaign.

After chanting for about half an hour, they proceeded to march towards the Kuala Lumpur contingent police headquarters.

They included about six disabled persons and Manoharan, who is also Kota Alam Shah state representataive.

rally proceeds to Pudu IPK police cordonBy about 11.45am, the crowd had swelled to a procession of about 200 moving towards the contingent police headquarters.

Water cannon and other Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) trucks were seen on standby at the headquarters.

During the march, the police drove two patrol cars into the crowd, forcing the HRP/Hindraf supporters to break up into two lines and onto the sidewalks flanking the road.

rally proceeds to Pudu IPKUpon arrival at the contingent police headquarters, the demonstrators demanded that Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Amar Singh release those arrested within the hour.

As of 11.40am, according to a police source, at least 183 have been arrested over the aborted HRP/Hindraf rally.

If the police refused to heed their demands, said the demonstrators, they would camp outside the police station. They made the assurance, however, that they would not block traffic.

At a press conference in the police station, meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur police chief Zulkifli Abdullah (left) clarified the number of those arrested was 109, not 183 as earlier reported.

hrp rally 270211 kl cpo zulkifli abdullah press conference183 was the total number of those picked up in the police operation, including by-passers and curious onlookers. These were later released.

Those who were held over involvement in the rally were from the ages 18 to 66 years old, and included eight women and eight HRP leaders, said Zulkifli.

Explaining the police action, Zulkifli (right) said: "We were forced to act to stop those who were planning the gathering as they were still adamant to proceed despite the permit for the gathering being rejected," he said.

Zulkifli also said two men had claimed to be alternative media journalist.

Malaysiakini understands that a group of unidentified persons posing as Malaysiakini journalists with counterfeit press tags, were spotted trying to pick fights with the police at the Kuala Lumpur contingent police station, claiming they were from the news portal.

All of those arrested were being detained and investigated under Section 27(5) of the Police Act, for participation in an illegal assembly, said Zulkifli.

He added that the eight identified as leaders of the HRP were also being investigated under section 45(1) of the Societies Act for being involved in an illegal organisation.

The Kuala Lumpur police chief said that he was disappointed with the people behind the gathering who had proceeded despite being told not to.

jinjang station gates 4pmZulkifli said further that he is also grateful to 13 Indian Ngo leaders who had volunteered to talk the Indian community out of participating in the illlegal gathering today.

Around 12.30pm, the bulk of the crowd at the contingent police headquarters dispersed, leaving behind only about 20 to continue the protest.

Many headed in the direction of Jinjang district police headquarters, where HRP leaders and activists Uthayakumar, W Sabulingam, K Balakrishnan and T Selvum has been detained.

jinjang station gates 4It was reported that police checkpoints were set up on the way to the station.

About half a dozen FRU personnel and two dozen uniformed police officers had stationed themselves at the gate inside the Jinjang police station in anticipation of the crowd.

By 4pm the crowd across from the station had grown to over 200, shouting 'Hindraf vaalga!' and other slogans.

'We will stay here until Uthaya is released!' many of them were heard saying.

Six more taken into custody, Uthaya released

According to a citizen journalist on the scene, Deepa Nair, a police officer suddenly opened the gate of the Jinjang district police station to announce that the four HRP leaders whose release the crowd was demanding were no longer in the police station inside.

"They are are in Putrajaya. They're not here," the officer was heard as saying.

Refusing to budge, the crowd stayed on, vowing to hold a candlelight vigil starting at 7pm. By that time, there were only 50 HRP supporters left.

At 7.15pm, however, the police suddenly barked orders for the crowd to disperse or else they would be placed under arrest for illegal assembly.

A few minutes later, scores of police personnel came out chasing and arresting those who were caught.

About six were arrested this way and taken into the Jinjang police station. It is not certain if the candlelight vigil will proceed as scheduled.

By 7.35pm, word came out that Uthayakumar and Sabulingam, among others, had been released from detention.

Meanwhile at 9.45pm it was learnt that S Jayathas, K Selvam, P Ramesh and Bala have been released from Putrajaya IPD lockup on bail.

VIDEO | 2.29 mins: S Jayathas arrest

VIDEO | 3.23 mins: More arrests

VIDEO | 6.52 mins: Police PC



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