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Anti-ISA vigil dispersed with water cannon January 6, 2008

Posted by beritaman in Uncategorized.

The police today used water cannon to disperse a crowd who had earlier defied a ban and successfuly held a short candlelight vigil at Dataran Merdeka.At the end of the brief 20-minute vigil, some remnants of the crowd remained behind in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka attempting to continue their vigil against the Internal Security Act, a tough law which allows detention without trial.

The police, who had reluctantly allowed the candlelight vigil despite a police ban against the gathering, deployed the water cannon to disperse the remaining crowd who had assembled at a bus-stop in Lebuh Ampang after issuing them warnings to break up.

The Abolish the ISA Movement (GMI), the organiser of the vigil, had also urged the crowd to disperse.

Moments after being awashed with water at about 9.20pm, the crowd numbering about 30 ran along the Lebuh Ampang road, followed closely by the police aiming to arrest them.

Earlier at about 8.25pm, some 200 people participated in the candlelight vigil after GMI successfully negotiated with the police to allow them to stay for a short while.

The crowd started gathering in the vicinity of the historic padang at about 8.15pm despite the presence of an equal number of police personnel.

At about 8.45pm, just as the police threatened to move in against the peaceful protesters, the crowd agreed to disperse on their own.

In all, they managed to overcome a police ban to mark their candlelight protest for about 20 minutes. No arrests have been reported.

A section of the crowd, which was later sprayed with water, however decided to loiter a few metres away from Dataran Merdeka to continue the vigil.

Family support

In the crowd were two family members related to five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders who were the latest individuals held under the ISA.

One of them was S Sivalingam (left), who is representing detained Hindraf leader T Vasanthakumar’s family at the vigil.

Another, V Raidu (right), brother of another detained Hindraf leader V Ganabatirau, told Malaysiakini that he attended the vigil to send a message that the ISA must be repealed.

“I’m not just supporting my brother but all ISA detainees. I know the pain the detainees’ family go through,” said Raidu.

Meanwhile, GMI chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said GMI, a coalition of civil society groups opposing the ISA, had urged the crowd to disperse as the objective of the vigil had been met.

“We wanted it to be a peaceful gathering, despite the police restrictions. We didn’t want to be confrontational,” he said.

He vowed that GMI would continue to lobby public support against the ISA.



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