KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has condemned the harassment and violence perpetrated against its convoys, which are touring nationwide in preparation for the upcoming Bersih 5 rally.
“Bersih is totally appalled by the gangsterism displayed by UMNO leaders and its UMNO-friendly red shirts supporters. They have shown to the nation that they have zero respect for democracy and had openly resorted to physical violence to curb free speech and assembly,” the elections watchdog said in a statement today.
The convoys, which are aimed at publicising the Nov 19 Bersih 5 rally, were harassed by the group known as the Red Shirts in Lumut, Perak on Oct 1. According to reports, the Red Shirts shouted “Mati Bersih” (Die Bersih) and used their vehicles to block the Bersih convoy. They also shouted at the Bersih convoy and tore the Bersih flags off the cars.
“What is even more deplorable is that UMNO leaders like UMNO Youth and Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor did not attempt to calm the situation but instead continued to stoke fire to intensify the tension. Yet, again there is dead silence from the Inspector General of Police and the cabinet,” its steering committee said.
“We strongly condemn all forms of violence, harassment, and provocation. We will take all necessary legal actions against the provocateurs. We demand that the police take stern and immediately action against them as criminal intimidation has occurred and witnessed by the police,” it added.
Bersih said, it has submitted the necessary notifications to the police before the convoy took place, and commend the police for their professionalism in assisting the convoy, especially in Perlis, Kelantan, Kedah, Sarawak, and Johor.
“We urge everyone not be distracted by the provocations. We must not allow provocateurs to diminish the hard work by the local organisers and participants of the BERSIH 5 Convoy. The national conversation on our BERSIH 5 demands must be share with locals in the towns that we will be visiting. Let that be our focus,” it added.