Jenn Wei’s detailed lowdown of his day during Bersih 3.0 – how he was taken away, beaten and had his particulars documented by the police – then denied his most fundamental rights.
[Right hand raised – for my statement is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.]
On the night of 27 April 2012, I left for Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) after work to stay in Citin Hotel Masjid Jamek, at which I had made a reservation weeks before the rally. There I met up with friends and scouted Dataran Merdeka to plan for escape routes in case anything happened. The moment we arrived, Bersih protestors had already flooded its entrance. They were chanting and sit-in (duduk bantah). The square was all barb wired, guarded with hundreds of policemen.
I started out at KLCC on the day of rally (28.04.2012) with the Himpunan Hijau 3.0 (Green Rally 3.0) group, where they marched from KLCC before joining the rest at Dataran Merdeka for the sit-in. The Green Rally 3.0 protestors gathered at Puduraya, then got to Dataran Merdeka around 1pm. The entrance into the square was blocked and all barb wired. Green Rally and Bersih protestors gathered along Masjid Jamek LRT station chanting, “Stop Lynas”, “Hidup Bersih”, in a flooded sea of yellow and green, intonation for Fair and Clean election, singing for Clean Environment.
Some started to sit down in front of the Masjid Jamek LRT Station, while some gushed into the Square entrance chanting, “Buka, Buka!” (open, open). I was taking shelter at OCBC and wasn’t sure what triggered the firing of tear gas and water cannons. People fell back slowly after the first and second canisters were fired, then after a couple of shots from another end of the road, they began to panic as they had no means of retreat, creating a massive bottleneck jam.
I walked slowly in the crowds trying to get back to my hotel to seek shelter from the tear gas. Many people came unprepared – without towel, salt or water. I had soaked a towel with salt a night before and offered it to the rest, trying to help as many people as I could. After a couple of hiccups, I successfully returned to Citin Hotel, where the security guards allowed only residents to enter.
Half an hour later – around 3.45pm to 4.15pm – while I was sitting inside the hotel cafe for some rest and refreshment, around three or four policemen barged in without warrant. The instant one of them saw me, he pointed at me and wanted to take me away. Grabbing me by the shoulder, he shouted, “You ikut saya!” (you follow me). I then asked whether I was under arrest and on what grounds, then told him I’d left my wallet and identification card in my bag, and that I needed to get it.
But instead he repeatedly shouted, “You diam, ikut saya!” (shut up and follow me). Leaving me no chance to grab my IC, I knew I’d be in trouble. So iI raised both my hands in the air and shouted, “I won’t struggle, I won’t struggle, I won’t struggle!” inside the hotel foyer. I was then hit behind my head by another policemen.Turning around, I saw that he kept both of his hands behind his back, and wasn’t sure whether it was him who hit me. In the distance, I heard the hotel security guard telling him not to hit me as I was a resident of the hotel; the policeman just screamed and told him to shut up.
I think the security guard was saying, “CCTV, CCTV…”, though I can’t be sure because I felt dizzy and had a dreadful headache. The policemen brought me all the way from Citin Hotel to Dataran Merdeka, shouting for me to run, “I nak you lari, LARI! LARI! LARI!”
I tried to calm him down and kept telling him that I wasn’t going to struggle, and that I would follow what he said. As soon as I arrived at Dataran Merdeka, a group of other policemen saw me and charged forward – kicking me on my legs and back. I kept on telling the policemen who grabbed me that I was not going to struggle with him. At first, when the other policemen tried to charge forward, he warned them not to hit me – “Jangan pukul dia.” I tried to look for his name and batch number, but there was none.
Furthermore, I was refused the right to call any lawyers or friends. I could only secretly send out text messages (thank God for the Blackberry QWERTY keypad!). We were all carried into a CAGE without being told where we’d be sent to, even though we persistently asked.
I only found out upon arrival that we were in PULAPOL – Pusat Latihan Polis Kuala Lumpur. Quickly, I texted my friends. We were all, however, treated surprisingly well when we got there. I asked, “Why treat us so politely after beating us up? What’s the point? Don’t you think it’s pointless?”
They just keep quiet. An hour later, YB Tian Chua arrived, descending from the bus and comforting everyone, “Jangan takut.” (don’t be afraid). I had to say, that worked like a charm. We were left unattended at the detention area, then officers started calling out names one by one – 512 of them altogether – taking down our particulars. Luckily they heard me out on my explanation for not having an identification card.
We were left unattended for many hours after, and it was only at nightfall that they began calling out names again – this time to take our photos. Most of the persons present were badly injured – most were hit and beaten badly – including a 71-year-old lady, “Mei Jie” – click for her press release. Two tourists were also captured – Jose from Spain and Andy from Austalia. They were arrested when standing outside their hostel just looking at the rally.
It was only at about 1am or so that the police began releasing people batch by batch. YB Tian Chua was supposed to leave in one of the early batches, but instead decided to stay put and wait for everyone to be released first. I was freed around 3am, and waited on the bus for about half an hour. The bus exited PULAPOL from the back door – ditching all our friends and family, lawyers, and press who waited at the front entrance – and dropped us all at Jalan Duta at about 4am.
We were detained for 11 hours: denied our right to legal representation and were not told the reasons for our detention.