Monday, January 12, 2009

Malaysia: 21 demonstrators arrested at peaceful pro-Gaza vigil

According to, 21 participants at an anti-war vigil at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur were arrested on January 10. The vigil was organised by Anti-War Coalition (Gabungan Anti-Perang Malaysia) to show support to the victims of war and aggression in Palestine and Sri Lanka.

Some 200 people had gathered at about 8pm for the vigil, which was declared illegal by the police forces. Around 100 light strike force personnel were on hand to control and disperse the crowd. The 21 persons were arrested as the refused to leave the area. The arrested were detained at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.

The arrested include Charles Santiago, Member of Parliament from the Klang constituency, Abdullah Sani, Member of Parliament from Kuala Langatk, Dr. Nasir Hashim (chairman of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, PSM, State Assembly member from Kota Damansara) and S. Arutchelvan (PSM general secretary). Abolish ISA Movement activist Norlaila Othman is also among those arrested. Other persons detained includes activists from the organizations Jerit and Suaram. The detained persons are believed to be investigated for 'illegal assembly'. (Note: The detainees were later released by the police)

One Jerit activist, E. Parameswari, told AFP that "We were holding a candlelight vigil to demand the end to the killing of innocent lives in Gaza, ... Police used force to break up the gathering and arrested the 21 people including opposition lawmakers Charles, Abdullah Sani and Nasir". One of the detained politicians, S. Arutchelvan commented to AFP from detention that "Our arrest makes a mockery of the position taken by Malaysia to condemn Israel".

The arrests against peaceful protestors who just wanted to show their support for the people of Gaza is a shameful act on behalf of the Malaysian authorities. Through trying to break the solidarity movement, the Malaysian government joins ranks with regimes like that of Egypt, acting in complicity with the Israeli aggressors.

On January 9 vigil a mass demonstration against the massacre in Gaza was held outside the U.S. Embassy. Simultaneous with the January 10 vigil in Kuala Lumpur, vigils were organized throughout Malaysia. Below some photos from a vigil in Georgetown, Penang (photos from Anti-War Coalition):

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