Student leader Mohd Safwan Anang, said to have been severely injured when police broke up a rally by university students in Tanjong Malim last night, was reported to have recovered consciousness earlier this afternoon and was speaking to human rights lawyer N Surendran (centre), who posted this photo. Safwan was reportedly assaulted by police and taken unconscious to hospital, first at Tanjung Malim and later to Slim River.
Police arrested 17 students at the rally and detained them for questioning. All had been released by 4pm today, after having their statements recorded and posting bail. Their release came about 14 hours after police used force to end a sit-in demonstration outside the university in support of academic freedom, university autonomy and the repeal of the Universities and University COlleges Act.
Activist lawyer Chris Kooi reported that police had refused to allow lawyers to meet the students but had allowed in a university official. Two student activists who went to make police reports about injuries were forcibly hauled in, he said. Malaysian Insider quoted an unidentified police officer this afternoon as denying that lawyers were not allowed access to the students, and brushing off claims of heavy-handed police action.
However Fadiah Najwa Fikri, coordinator of the Lawyers for Liberty movement, said earlier this morning that lawyers had not been allowed to meet the detained students “They are at the police station but were not allowed to physically meet with the students.”
Speaking to Malaysian Insider by phone, she said the students “were beaten up, kicked and punched. According to an eyewitness, Safwan lost some teeth”. She was not sure how many were involved in the beating of Safwan, “but there were too many..” Police moved in about 30 minutes after the students began their “sit-in” protest. “A lot of them were beaten up,” Fadiah said. One activist had tried to help Safwan but was himself arrested.
MalaysiaKini reporter Nigel Aw, reporting from the scene, said among those arrrested was Kumpulan Aktivis Independen Mahasiswa (Kami) president Haziq Abdullah Abdul Aziz, who was cornered by three police officers. He managed to throw them off but five other policemen joined in and finally pinned him to the ground.
Haziq Abdullah later lost consciousness as the police were about to carry him away.
A witness was quoted as saying: “Everyone were distracted by the arrest (of the other students). When I looked behind me, I saw three police officers trying to subdue Safwan. Then he went limp and started to shake. There was blood on his mouth.”
Roadblocks were set up on all roads leading to Tanjung Malim town.