Journos want Suhakam inquiry into police violence

Journalists send protest memo to PM’s Office
G Vinod
Free Malaysia Today, 15 May 2012

A group of journalists concerned over the targeted violence and interference with the work of newspersons by the authorities during last month’s Bersih 3.0 pro-electoral reform rally, submitted a memorandum of protest to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) this morning.

The memorandum containing nearly 4,000 signatures was received by a special officer to the PM, Umi Hani Sharani.

“There are 2,775 signatures on our online petition, about 300 signatures sent in via physical forms and another 1,472 journalists from the National Union of Journalists, which has also expressed its support,” said group spokesperson Gobind Rudra.

The memorandum and petition demand that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and police chief Ismail Omar issue a public apology to journalists, conduct an impartial inquiry to the allegations of violence, return or replace seized or damaged equipment and provide reasonable restitution to those affected.

Gobind said the group will give Najib and the mentioned authorities until the end of the month to respond to their memo.

He noted that thus far no action has been taken to address their grouses since the April 28 incident, adding that the group is mulling legal action and a possible class action against the relevant authorities.

Gobind led the deputation of six journalists and photographers clad in sombre black to mark their protest and wearing yellow ribbons symbolising press freedom.

They represent more than 14 newspersons who were victims of the violence.

Amongst the victims were The Sun journalist Radzi Razak (left) and Guanming Daily photographer Wong Onn Kin, who claim they were beaten up by police officers during the Bersih rally.

Wong was also detained by the police and released several hours later.
Photographs of the duo apparently being beaten up by cops spread like wildfire over the Internet and became the poster child for the public outcry by media practitioners against such brutality.

“They have kept quiet about this for long enough. It is time for the government to answer and respond to this,” said Radzi.

He clarified that while they do not hate the police, they seek justice and want journalists on duty to be given due respect and protection.
Wong wants the government to “take action” against the errant law enforcement officers responsible for the assaults.

Protests by journalists against police violence took an unprecedented turn as mainstream and alternative media donned black on World Press Freedom Day recently and some Chinese print media printed their front pages black.

Demonstrations were also held at several media offices, including at Malaysiakini, to protest the attacks on journalists.

About 14 journalist were harassed, beaten up and had their equipment seized or destroyed by law enforcement officers while covering Bersih 3.0.

This marks the escalating violence by authorities not only against protesters but also journalists who were documenting the entire episode.
» Assaulted journos hand petition to PM


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