Posts Tagged ‘ protest ’

World Refugee Day Protest @ Town Hall – 24/6/2012

World Refugee Day was last weekend, and so there were two rallies to mark the occasion. I attended the Sunday rally. I arrived a little bit early, and just after I arrived a band started playing. So I recorded them.

Ember
12 min 23 sec / 17 MB / 192 kbps
Ember is a 3-piece band fronted by Mohsen Soltani, an Iranian refugee, who reads his poetry and plays an instrument whose name I do not know. Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of at least one song/poem. Also, while I was recording a group of Acehnese men gathered near me and started talking loudly, so as well as Ember and their music you can also listen to the sound of Acehnese men speaking Acehnese and English.

The Riff Raff Radical Marching Band were also in attendance playing their repertoire that ranges from Pokerface to Bella Ciao to Killing in the Name Of. But I did not record them.

For more information on refugee issues and actions check out Refugee Action Coalition Sydney.

Why Occupy Dataran Merdeka?

As the Occupy Dataran protest camp continues through its fifth day and grows in size, I thought it would be worthwhile to have a look at the reasons for occupying given by the people who have been part of the action. The quotes here have been taken from posts on Twitter and Facebook over the past few days. Some of them have were originally in English, others have been translated from the Malay by me.

The protest camp began straight after an anti-PTPTN (the Malaysian student loan scheme) protest, so it is not surprising to see that education has been a big issue for discussion. Some arguments for the action specifically reference the abolishment of PTPTN while placing it in the context of government responsibility and/or a human rights discourse:

“We need to understand why students are forced to take out a PTPTN loan. Education is a human right.”

“If there’s no PTPTN, how do the poor pay for their fees? When we say ‘abolish’, what is the alternative? We need to be clear about this.”

“When we say abolish PTPTN, we want to propose to the government that the responsibility of providing education is the responsibility of the government.”

“From an Islamic perspective, education must be given to everybody. Healthcare must be given to everybody”

While other participants have articulated that they do not necessarily want to abolish PTPTN but still support the occupy action for other reasons closely linked to the education system. These reasons include the conditions of the current PTPTN scheme and the current system of preferential treatment for bumiputeras (Malays and non-Muslim indigenous populations):

“In my opinion, those that have already taken out a loan need to pay it back. However, I don’t agree with the administrative fees that costs thousands.”

“I don’t agree with abolishing PTPTN. Before talking about free education, we should first fight for equal access”

“Most non-bumiputeras have no choice but to take PTPTN because affordable public uni not accessible.”

While there does seem to be a lot of focus on education issues, other protestors have articulated their reasons for occupation in more broader concepts of democracy and class struggle:

“A new world that is not capitalist is possible.”

“A message of protest to all governments – including the opposition.”

“We need to open democratic space where all people can discuss and deliberate.”

“#OccupyDataran represents a truly grassroots movement rebelling against every system of representative democracy dominated by an elite class. It is a class struggle.”

“#OccupyDataran represents a truly people based consensus decision making process that we want as an ideal versus the top-down representative democracy we are seeing.”

“#OccupyDataran represents the power of citizen action. To hell with bad governance and the bullshit nonsense we have been seeing.”

“#OccupyDataran represents a rebellion in our system of representative democracy that no longer represents some of us. Its a movement for a better way.”

Why do I #occupydataran when I believe PTPTN should be reformed not abolished as long as free education doesn’t exist?

I #occupydataran in solidarity with students who are unafraid to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

I #occupydataran because there are no democratic public spaces. Reclaiming Dataran Merdeka, the symbolic birthplace of democracy, means reclaiming democracy.

I #occupydataran because it is a platform to imagine a new form of democracy without hierarchies and everyone can participate in decision-making. This is differs greatly to the current system where only leaders at the top are involved in decision-making.

It would seem possible that what differentiates the protestors in regards to the reasons they emphasise for occupying Dataran Merdeka is their background in the movement – that is, whether they came from the regular weekly Occupy Dataran assemblies and actions or if they come from a background of activism in the student movement. This is a distinction that seems to have been brought to the fore earlier today on the #OccupyDataran Facebook page:

Many don’t see that the protest camp at Dataran Merdeka is actually occupied by two different movements: the #OccupyDataran movement (a leaderless, grassroots movement) and the Malaysia Bangkit movement (led by Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM)).

The Malaysia Bangkit movement that consists of students from various universities is occupying the square to demand the abolishment of PTPTN and demand free education.

The #OccupyDataran movement that consists of youth, citizens of KL and students from a variety of backgrounds is occupying the square to reclaim Dataran Merdeka as an open and democratic space for people to gather, discuss and explore the true meaning of democracy beyond the representative system, to redefine democratic participation beyond the ballot box, to imagine a new political culture beyond race, ideology and political affiliation, and also to hang out, spend the night and dream together at Dataran Merdeka.

We do this through the KL People’s Assembly, a platform that is open, egalitarian and democratic, for ordinary people to share ideas, highlight problems, seek alternatives, propose solutions, and make decisions about any issue collectively through consensus and a participatory democratic process that we have been using every night we have occupied Dataran Merdeka.

Two movements exist and co-exist together in the same space, occupying the same square.

I should repeat again that as I’m writing this from Sydney, I’m quite removed from the action and so I am only writing based on my interpretation of fragments gleaned from Twitter, Facebook and conversations with friends. If you’ve been involved and are occupying for reasons that I haven’t covered, feel free to add them in a comment.

To follow what’s going on at Dataran Merdeka as it happens, check out #OccupyDataran’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Bonus readings:

‘Dataran Merdeka’ students stay put (Free Malaysia Today)

Occupy Dataran: From ‘Lil Acorns Grow Mighty Oaks (The People’s Parliament blog)

Occupy Dataran Protest Camp

Today was the third day of the Occupy Dataran protest camp at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), Kuala Lumpur. The camp started on Saturday (April 14) after students and youth marched through the streets of Kuala Lumpur protesting for the abolishment of PTPTN (the Malaysian version of student loans) and the establishment of free tertiary education.

Occupy Dataran started last July as the KL manifestation of the Take The Square Movement, inspired by occupations of public space in Spain and Tel Aviv. The first Occupy Dataran was held on July 30, last year, and the first official KL People’s Assembly was held the following week on August 6. As many occupiers in KL, including myself, love to point out to everyone we can, the first Occupy Dataran was held 7 weeks before Occupy Wall Street began (but unfortunately the Malaysian media still refers to Occupy Dataran as a local offshoot of Occupy Wall St, merely expressing solidarity with the Occupy Wall St movement). Since then, Occupy Dataran has been a weekly assembly at Dataran Merdeka (or various other public spaces depending on how the police are feeling on the night) as a platform for experimentation with participatory democracy based on the popular assembly model. Apart from the assembly, the weekly gathering often involves a Really Really Free Market (Pasar Percuma), Speakers’ Corner, People’s University (Universiti Rakyat), workshops, music and other activities.

As I’m writing here from my bedroom in Sydney, I can’t write about the events from my own observations and involvement as I normally would. So, instead I’ll try to piece together a good view of what’s going on in KL from the fragments I can glean from Twitter, Facebook, news sites and conversations with friends who are involved.

The protest camp was set up at about 4pm on Saturday afternoon after a rally organised by student groups such as Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia, Malaysia Bangkit and KAMI made its way to Dataran Merdeka. Upon reaching Dataran Merdeka, the student leaders erected tents and stated their intention to camp out until the Prime Minister had responded to their demands. Regular attendees of Occupy Dataran’s KL People’s Assembly joined the student groups and the assembly model of decision making was introduced.  Since then, at least a couple of hundred students and youth have been involved (according to estimates given by my friends who are there) in the camp and the nightly assemblies. Apart from the nightly assemblies where the major decision making takes place, the protesters have also held workshops, classes, lectures, set up a Pasar Percuma, started work on piecing together a campsite library, as well as played games, and sung and played music together (which according to one report, involves an awesome rendition of Zee Avi’s Kantoi). This evening, a Universiti Dataran Merdeka session was organised, with Fahmi Reza, a designer/filmmaker/historian/lecturer (and lots of other things), leading a class in “The Democratic System of Malaysia” and another class has been scheduled for tomorrow to be lead by Dr Azmi Sharom, a law lecturer at University of Malaya.

Of course, the camp has not been without its hassles from the local authorities. Over the past three days, numerous tents have been destroyed and confiscated by the police and scuffles with the police have broken out. At about half past eleven this morning, authorities surrounded the tents and detained a student protestor before releasing him not long after. Besides the constant hassles from police and directives to leave, the protestors have remained.

Besides the opposition from police and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), the protestors have been shown a lot of support. In the media, they have received support from Andrew Khoo, the Bar Council human rights committee chairman.. Materially, the protestors have been donated tents, food, money and other supplies from supportive individuals and groups. My head almost exploded out of confusion upon reading a tweet that the protestors had been given food donations from Pemuda UMNO and Puteri UMNO (the youth and young women’s wings of UMNO, the ruling political party for the last 55 years). The opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, have also been giving support to students at the camp, as have numerous NGOs. In the People’s Assembly held on Sunday night, the protestors decided they would accept donations and support from all sources but affirmed their commitment to non-partisanship.

To follow the events of Occupy Dataran in the words of the protestors, follow them on Twitter: (@Occupy Dataran).

Photos used in this post were taken from the #OccupyDataran Facebook page and from some of my friends.

Here are a few more:

Easter Monday Rally at Villawood

2012 marks 20 years since the introduction of mandatory detention for asylum seekers, so a protest was held at the Villawood Detention Centre in southwest Sydney on Monday. This protest was part of an Easter national convergence, where refugee supporters protested at detention centres around Australia.

The protest met at about 1pm outside Chester Hill train station. Some people held banners, tables of literature were set up and people were chanting.

At about 1:15pm we began marching toward Villawood Detention Centre, down the main street of Chester Hill, through the quiet suburban streets of Chester Hill and Villawood. People stood out the front of their shops and houses, some expressing support, others expressing disapproval but most just having a look at what was going on.

At about 2pm, we reached the outer wall of Villawood Detention Centre. Speeches were made and chants of freedom and آزادی (the Persian equivalent – apparently many of the current detainees are Persian speakers) were exchanged between protesters and detainees on the other side of the fence over 50 metres away.

At about 3pm, the group marched to an entrance on another side of the detention centre.

Not long after, the protest ended. Some people headed off toward Villawood train station while others walked back the way we had marched.

For more information on refugees and asylum seekers in Sydney and the rest of Australia check out: Refugee Action Coalition Sydney.

My Day With the Cleaners

I woke up late as I’d arrived back in Malaysia late the night before. On the way home from KL Sentral, the city streets were conspicuously empty. There were hardly any cars at all. I found out that the government had ordered the police to set up road blocks along all roads leading into the central KL area.

I spent the first hour or two after waking up at a nearby restaurant, using the wifi there to follow what had been happening on Twitter. The Petaling Street and Central Market area seemed to be busy and accessible. At 2pm, I decided to leave, Plaza Rakyat was the place to begin.

At Cempaka station, police had stopped a man and were checking his bags. I wondered if this had any connection to Bersih. At the station counter I asked for a ticket to Plaza Rakyat but was told that it had been closed. I was told the closest station to Plaza Rakyat that was open was Bandaraya so I bought a ticket to Bandaraya.

On the train, announcements informed passengers that Hang Tuah, Plaza Rakyat and Masjid Jamek LRT stations had all been closed and the train would be skipping those stations. I sent an sms out to some friends to see where they were at and received a reply saying, “Pudu is vendetta”. I decided to get off at Pudu instead of going all the way through to Bandaraya.

The section of Jalan Pudu between Jalan Pasar and Jalan Imbi was empty. No traffic, no shops open, the only people around were those who had just got off the train at Pudu to walk somewhere else that wasn’t that area of Jalan Pudu.

At Jalan Imbi, I watched a group of people march from near Hang Tuah LRT station and turn left onto Jalan Pudu, towards Puduraya. People on the side of the road watched them walk by, waving, chanting “Bersih” and some left the side of the road and joined the marching group. The group then stopped for a while at the corner of Jalan Pudu and Jalan Bukit Bintang.

At the same time, the “Patriot” counter-protest group, made up mostly of UMNO Youth members, was making its way down Jalan Bukit Bintang toward Jalan Pudu.

The Bersih group then made their way down Jalan Pudu but turned into some backstreets adjacent to Jalan Pudu, presumably to avoid a police line along Jalan Pudu near the hospital. I didn’t follow this group as it had began raining and I didn’t really feel like getting stuck in the rain. I joined the rest of the ‘spectators’ standing under shopfront awnings at the bottom of Jalan Bukit Bintang.

As Patriot continued a slow march down Jalan Bukit Bintang the FRU had arrived. The police pushed the ‘spectators’ behind their line formed at the bottom of Jalan Bukit Bintang. I watched from behind the police line.

Patriot and the police clashed. Solidly linking arms, Patriot seemed to easily break through the police line before a tear gas canister had been detonated. A group of us who had been watching from just behind the police line huddled into a nearby doorway. We held towels, bandanas, scarves and whatever else we had with us to our faces trying to reduce the effects of the tear gas.

Patriot retreated back up Jalan Bukit Bintang and as the teargas cleared we left the doorway. I managed to find some friends at that moment and since the rain had calmed we left to find the Bersih march.

After walking down Jalan Imbi, various back streets, and crossing Jalan Bukit Bintang where the police and Patriot were still facing off, we found some Bersih people down in Changkat area. A taxi driver drove past and raised his fist out the window chanting “Bersih!”

At this moment, I received an sms saying, “People takeover the hosp.”

At the corner of Jalan Nagasari various small groups converged and we tried to figure out where to go next. Some said to walk Jalan Nagasari, others to go back toward Jalan Bukit Bintang – which would have been a bad idea because that’s where the FRU and Patriot were facing off. Deciding against making our way to the hospital on Jalan Pudu we joined a group of a few hundred people making their way up Jalan Nagasari. Along Jalan Nagasari we stopped at a mamak restaurant to watch the TV news about Bersih before jogging up the hill to Jalan Raja Chulan.

At Jalan Raja Chulan we converged with a  much larger group that was heading toward Jalan Sultan Ismail. The group turned left into Jalan Sultan Ismail, heading toward Bukit Nanas. We took over all six lanes of the road and spread back as far as I could see and as far forward as I could see. There were at least a couple of thousand marching down Jalan Sultan Ismail.

For the next hour or so, there was almost zero police presence at all. A few thousand of protesters were marching down Jalan Sultan Ismail across all six lanes and no police in sight. We kept on walking. Walking and chanting.

Apart from the usual chants of “Hidup! Hidup! Hidup Rakyat!” and its Bersih counterpart, “Hidup! Hidup! Hidup Bersih!”, there were also regular chants of “Takbir! Allahu akbar!”. My Chinese friend and I would just smile at each other, and share a look that said, “Yep, this chant’s not for us.”

I always find moments like this fascinating. Events such as protest marches, street festivals and Reclaim the Streets parties. When roads open up not as places for cars to dominate but for people to gather and socialise. The way a city looks and feels changes so dramatically when people replace cars on the streets. I find it always comes with the realisation that something seems a little bit wrong when a huge proportion of our public space is roads for cars.

With all the walking and chanting, I started to wonder what we were actually doing. Where were we going? What were we going to do when we got there? What were we actually trying to accomplish with everything we were doing? Were we still trying to go to Stadium Merdeka? Were we just looking to start a fight with the police? But what would be the point of searching out a heavily policed zone when we already had the streets of KL all to ourselves? For a little while it did start to feel like we were just walking aimlessly around.

Past Bukit Nanas we turned into Jalan Ampang and after we met with another really big group who had just come from another assembly point closer to Dataran Merdeka and Petaling Street. The numbers grew. It was huge.

We stopped for a while. And tried to figure out where to go next. Well, we didn’t really figure out where to go next, someone else did. I’m not sure who this someone else was, and how they went about making decisions. We started walking back the way we came. But after a few hundred metres we all stopped again. Messages to go this way, that way, this way, were yelled up and down along the crowd and we stayed still for a few minutes. A police helicopter flew past.

After the few minutes of not moving in any direction along Jalan Ampang, that someone or those someones who were figuring out which way to go had figured out to go toward KLCC. So we continued marching along Jalan Ampang to KLCC. Still, besides for the helicopter flying by every now and then there was no sign of police at all.

When we arrived at KLCC there was still no sign of police anywhere. Most people sat at the intersection of Jalan Ampang and Jalan P Ramlee. Others were standing around the large sitting crowd. People were chanting, singing Negaraku and just hanging around.

After about 20 minutes, or what felt like twenty minutes, it may have only actually been five minutes, a helicopter flew overhead and suddenly a large numbers of people started running. It took me a while to realise that the FRU had arrived. Some ran down Jalan Ampang in the direction of Ampang Park, others ran in the direction of KLCC. I made my way to KLCC. As I walked, people were jumping over walls and through gardens, others were caught and held by undercover police. I saw a few young men and women being picked out by the police.

At KLCC it was safe enough to stop moving and turn back to watch what was happening on Jalan Ampang. A line of FRU police were marching down Jalan Ampang followed by the water cannon spraying its chemical-laced water.

As one half of the crowded were pushed further down Jalan Ampang, I followed the other part of the crowd past KLCC into KLCC Park. It was about 4:30pm and the azan from the masjid in KLCC Park signalled time for Asar prayer. Many people went into the masjid while others hung out in the park, resting and rehydrating.

I was hoping that this would be just a break for rest and/or prayer and the people would soon be back out on the streets.

One of my friends had received news from other friends that there were still people out on Jalan Ampang near Ampang Park. We tried to make our way there from KLCC Park but a side street would have taken us right into the FRU line – on the wrong side. We walked around the block in another direction and found many friends outside the 7Eleven on Jalan Ampang not far from KLCC.

After waiting around, hoping the masjid would empty on to the streets, one of my friends told me it was over. Apparently the steering committee had called it off. I was a bit disappointed. Why stop now? There’s still 1000s of people around, surely we can regroup somwhere or split off into several smaller decentralised groups.

We continued sitting outside the 7Eleven. Catching up with more friends who came by and not really sure what to do or where to go next. Over the next 30 minutes, more people began to walk up and down Jalan Ampang. The restaurants and shops were all still closed except for that one 7Eleven.

Some of us walked back up to KLCC. Outside, police paraded around on horseback in front of an onlooking group with their cameras out. I think it was their way of telling the shoppers that everything was ok. Don’t panic. Everything is back to normal.

Inside KLCC everything was normal. Shopping and business as usual. You wouldn’t think that less than an hour ago the shopping centre entrance had been closed off and just outside thousands of people peacefully assembled had been attacked by police shooting tear gas and spraying chemical laced water.

Walking through this scene of normality, on a day that wasn’t so normal at all, I was quiet and lost in my thoughts. What happens tomorrow? What happens on Sunday? Is everything the way it was before?

I like to think it won’t be the same as it was before. Sure, Najib will still be prime minister as head of UMNO, capitalism will rule and all those big things won’t just disappear before tomorrow. But maybe some little things will stick with us. The reminder that Malaysian democracy is presently nonexistent. That 1Malaysia exists not in an UMNO-led Barisan Nasional but for a few hours it existed in the streets. That we had just been a part of one of the biggest demonstrations seen in Malaysia despite the police’s attempt to lockdown KL.

We just have to look after those little things. Those little changes and make sure they aren’t forgotten or lost. Encourage their growth and keep on adding. To continue to expand Bersih beyond just a Pakatan Rakyat movement or a Reformasi movement but into a real democratic people’s movement.

My May Day Post-Twitter

On Sunday, I kind of wished I had access to a Black Berry or an iPhone or whatever else people use to access twitter without being at a computer just so I could have been one of them twitter journalists coming straight from the action, but instead all I had to tweet with was a pen and paper. So this is kind of what I would have tweeted had I had the ability to do so. However, as I’m not tweeting this, and editing it two days later, I have the ability to write more and add facts that I didn’t know at the time. I’m also writing it in past tense because I was confusing myself trying to write in present tense as if I was actually writing it all at the time.

Also, I didn’t take any photos. Everyone always takes lots of photos of these things. There’s also lots of video too. So I guess just have a look around google and youtube for that.

10:45 – I arrived at Chow Kit monorail station. From inside the monorail I could see many people standing on the side of the road watching something. I assumed they were watching a gathering of people. When I got down I didn’t see a gathering of people. There were a lot of police and a lot of media. There was a huddle of police and media around one or a few people and I watched from the back as one of the people was dragged by the police into a police car which drove off with its siren on. I have no idea what happened. I met a friend there and he too had no idea what happened. After sending an SMS or two I found out the gathering was now at Maju Junction, which turned out to be a ten to fifteen minute walk up Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman from the monorail station.

Turns out that I had witnessed the arrests of S Arutchelvan the Secretary-General of PSM (Parti Sosialis Malaysia) and A Sivarajan the Treasurer of PSM. Watch it on YouTube.

11:00 – I arrived at Maju Junction. This is where the gathering was. I was able to find some faces I knew but the Noisy crew hadn’t yet arrived. There were many people holding banners in Malay, English and Chinese and not long after I arrived there was at least one speech given. I couldn’t quite hear the speech clearly though and it was in Malay so I may not have understood it all anyway. I assume it may have been based on the “May Day 2011 Declaration” which I was able to get a copy of and if I get the time I might try to do a rough translation into English.

11:10 – We started marching and after about fifty metres from Maju Junction at a nearby building that housed Tabung Haji and Kementerian Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan (KPKK – Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture) we stopped. I think I heard people banging on the windows and doors of the place and I assume tried to get in. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, if they were attempting to occupy the ministry offices or something else but that seemed a likely motive to me. It wasn’t very long until either the door was opened by protesters from the outside or the police from the inside, and after which a bit of a scuffle resulted. Police pushed protesters, protesters pushed police, police yelled, people yelled, it all got a bit intense for a little while until the majority of protesters decided to sit down. After which, the police attack stopped. Watch it on Youtube.

11:25 – Still outside Tabung Haji and KPKK. The sit-in continued and people start singing songs such as Solidarity Forever and a song in Malay that I assume is called Kita Bangun.

12:00 – Still outside Tabung Haji and KPKK. After singing and chanting and general hanging around, most people stood up but hung around some more. The anarchists unfurled their banners and passed around black head/arm bands with ‘May Day Pekerja Bersatu’ (May Day Workers Unite) printed on them. The media then took lots of photos of people standing around holding banners.

12:10 – Outside Tabung Haji and KPKK the banners were tied to the railing that separated the footpath from the road – the banners facing outwards to Jalan Sultan Ismail so that cars going past could see.

12:25 – Word started to go around that there were plans for the gathering to split into two groups. I heard that one group was to stay at Maju Junction while the other group was to head to the nearby Police Station (Dang Wangi Ibu Pejabat Polis). The anarchist bloc decided to leave for the police station so I followed along.

12:35 – A group of us left together to walk to the police station. There was about 30 of us in the group – mostly anarchists, a few from Islamic student groups and some others. We walked while still carrying our banners.

12:40 – We arrived at the police station and including our group that just arrived there was about 70 or 80 people there all from different groups. Almost straight away one of our friends was taken by the police. I was a bit further from where it happened but one of my friends standing nearby commented on how they think the arrest was just a media opportunity for the police – there were heaps of media around and the police officer who arrested our friend seemed to be posing for the cameras. Watch the arrest on YouTube.

12:50 – Outside the police station one of the police officers started yelling really loudly at everyone. He said we had five minutes to leave. I thought, ok, so we’ll stay for five minutes. However, people had already started moving back up the road. As this was happening a lot of police came out of the police station and started walking us up the road. There would have been at least 100. One of our friends was approached by police. At first I thought they were going to arrest him too but then I saw that they’d let him go. Apparently, their conversation went something like: “You look familiar, I’ve seen you at all the protests!”, “Hey, I’m just here to observe. I’m just being peaceful, I don’t want to fight anyone.” – and it worked.

12:55 – There were about twenty or so of us outside the 7-11 about fifty metres up the road and about forty people at the bus stop across the road from the police station. At least four people also went off to make a police report on the actions of the police at Maju Junction and outside the police station.

13:10 – A truck had left the police station and I noticed it was carrying some of those who had been arrested. I told my friends to run after it to find out where the truck was going. The traffic lights were red so we all had the opportunity to run up and ask questions and talk to people we knew. We found out they were being taken to the Balai Polis Tun H S Lee near Stadium Merdeka. However, it was uncertain if all the people had been taken so we hung around to try to make some calls and SMS some people to ask about our friend.

13:15 – Most of us were now sitting outside the 7-11 waiting for news of the others who weren’t in that truck to Balai Polis H S Lee. Two trucks full of riot police and a water cannon drove past and parked at the bus stop where we had gathered only a few minutes earlier.

13:40 – Still outside the 7-11. The four who had gone off to write the police report had returned with copies of their report.

13:45 – We find out that all those arrested had been taken to Balai Polis H S Lee. So we started walking.

14:45 – After a brief stop to buy cendol, gathering some people, getting split up but then joining another group on their way to the police station, and seeing a lot of KL I’d never seen, I finally arrived at the police station. There were at least 150-200 people there, maybe more because I don’t really know how to estimate crowd numbers.

15:10 – Outside the police station, some people arrive with a lot of packages of curry and rice. All day people had been passing around boxes of bottles of water and sweet bread cakes. Malaysia seems to know what’s important in organising a protest!

16:35 – Outside the police station, and four bags full of Indian kuih arrived – karipap, pisang goreng and more. At the same time a small group of people assemble outside the gate of the police station. The police have called for enough people to bail out those arrested (which I heard was nineteen).

17:25 – At this time I left with a friend who had to go off somewhere else. By the time we had left, the police still hadn’t allowed the people in to bail out those arrested. They kept prolonging the process, claiming the forms weren’t ready or other excuses. When we left there was still a lot of people assembled outside in solidarity.

I found out later that my friend had been charged with ‘illegal gathering’ and I assume that’s what the others would have been charged with too. It seems like a really silly charge. If nineteen people are arrested and charged with ‘illegal gathering’ what about the other hundreds of people who were there? Why only those nineteen? Surely, to be consistent they’d need to arrest all of us or none of us. Not that I’m suggesting they arrest us all, of course.