Malaysian Human Rights Commission Told of Police Beatings
Witnesses told Thursday how police kicked, beat and threatened them during a mass rally by supporters of Malaysia's jailed ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim.
Trader Mohamad Salim Ladlin was speaking at an inquiry by Malaysia's human rights commission into clashes at the November 5 rally, which was broken up by police using tear gas, batons and water cannon.
Some 26 of the 125 people arrested and later bailed reported injuries ranging from bloody noses to cracked ribs.
Police and the attorney-general are boycotting the inquiry on the grounds it could prejudice future court proceedings. The rights panel says the matter is not "sub judice."
Salim said police checked his car at roadblocks leading to the rally site in Klang west of Kuala Lumnpur and warned him that the rally was illegal.
He said the site was "flooded" with riot police and supporters were told to make their way to a mosque nearby.
But a group of supporters had gathered impromptu at the highway, he said.
Police chased the crowd after warning them to disperse. Salim said two riot policemen tried to open his car door but he had locked it.
"The FRU (riot police officer) standing in front of the car with a rattan cane then threatened to smash my windscreen if I don't come out," he said.
"So I got out but even before I could stand up, he hit my back ... I fell down on the street bleeding. The two FRUs held me up and led me to the truck. On the way, they kicked me and I fell down a second time."
Salim said his employer Rahmat Mohamad, who was in the car with him, was also beaten and taken to the truck. There were some 11 detainees there, he said.
"In the truck, they shouted at us. They pointed at each one of us and called us 'sodomiser' just like Anwar," Salim said. "They also threatened to spray us with 'perfume' which we understand is tear gas."
Anwar, who was sacked and detained in September 1998, is serving a jail term totalling 15 years after being convicted of abuse of power and sodomy.
Salim's employer Rahmat then told the panel that riot police punched him in the face, injuring his nose and lips.
In the police truck, he quoted one officer as telling the detainees: "Do you all know that your leader is a sodomiser? Do you also know that I am actually a dog of the government?"
Earlier, Rahmat told the panel that he was still on bail and did not want to give any testimony that could incriminate himself.
Anuar Zainal Abidin, a former chief justice of Malaya heading the panel, said he has immunity from charges and told him to have confidence in the inquiry.
It is uncertain how long the inquiry will take. The next hearing will be on December 11, officials said -- KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)
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