In June/July 2011, in anticipation of the Bersih 2 rally, the police under the direction of the UMNO-BN government detained 6 PSM leaders under the Emergency Ordinance (EO). For this 10-year-anniversary of this detention, Thinkleft will run a series of articles documenting the struggle to free the six from unlawful detention.
Click here to read part 1 of this series
The next day, Monday 27 June 2011 – PSM held a press conference at our small modest HQ at Brickfields. More than 30 newspaper journalists attended the PC – the highest record for a PSM press conference. Many had to stand because there were no chairs. PRM leader Rohana Ariffin was there to give solidarity. At that press conference – Dr. Nasir and myself paraded with the Rashid Maidin t-shirt. We accused the ruling party and its police force for lying and ridiculed the entire arrest. Surprising to us, most of the media did not believe the Police version and that made our job easier. Our position to pose with the Ex-leader of the MCP was a brave stunt to put historical things in perspective. It was also a message that we are not cowed by the attack, and we will go on exposing the smear campaign which the police, Utusan and Perkasa seem to have a hand in. PSM was now on the attack. We had at that point decided that we would take on the state with all our might and face them… whatever may come. It is our survival which matters – and we would go down fighting all the way. I think the position taken by the PSM leadership was important and built the momentum for the release.
We have many lessons from history. The attack on PSM was something which we have always anticipated especially linking us with the communist bogey. But this is the 21st century, the post cold war era, and the UMNO-BN is facing a new leftist party- The PSM which believes in open politics (not underground). Our consistent and persistent work at the grassroots level helped us during these difficult times. People who knew our politics did not believe in the accusation. In fact a gathering at Sungai Siput the same night after the smear campaign did not stop people from coming to the PSM office and this helped us mentally to take on the ruling party.
On the same day, at the Parliament house – a press conference was held where Pakatan Rakyat leaders stood in solidarity with us denouncing the attack on PSM. Among them were Nurul Izzah, Mafuz Omar and others. Then a team of us left to Penang – to spearhead the campaign to secure the release of all our 30 comrades.
The Campaign in the north
The Campaign can be divided into 4 time periods. The first being from the arrest date on 26th June till 2nd or 4th July – this can be said to be the pre EO arrest or the Penang period of detention, the second period is from the 2nd till the Bersih rally on the 9th. July 2011. The 3rd period would be post Bersih till the habeas corpus case on the 22 July, while the final push of the campaign would be from the 22nd till the release on the 29th July 2011.
First period – The Penang detentions and rearrest under the EO
When we arrived in Penang on the 27th evening, we immediately called for an NGO meeting in Penang. Prior to our arrival there, the Penang legal Aid centre along with some friends in Penang were doing a tremendous job in keeping the fort intact including some Sungai Siput PSM members. But I sort of overestimated the strength of the organisations in Penang. I initially thought that there was huge civil society grouping in Penang and that we can play a supporting role to their effort. But after the first NGO meeting, I realized that PSM had to spearhead the campaign in the north. There was also a sense of relief that we had arrived and an expectation that we would take charge.
So we started to take charge. NGOs like ALIRAN, Legal Aid Centre and SUARAM were really very helpful. Besides that they also faced many challengers such as resources etc. ALIRAN was very helpful to provide us their office for us to use. ALIRAN office became our base and operational HQ for the next 9 days.
To be continued…
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
The following is a BERNAMA report from June 28 2011:
Police Probing PSM From Many Angles – CID Director
KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 (Bernama) — The police are looking at several angles in their investigation into Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) for allegedly trying to rekindle communist ideology in the country, CID Director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said today.
He said the police were also taking into account the materials seized from the 31 PSM activists who were held by the police on Saturday.
The case was being investigated under Section 122 of the Penal Code pertaining to the collecting of men, arms or ammunition with the intention of waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Ruler or Yang Dipertua Negeri, he said.
“They (the activists) had made much preparation, such as distributing leaflets and wearing T-shirts propagating the ideology with the aim of inciting the people to hate the government,” he told reporters after attending the third “Ops Lusuh” meeting with Celcom Axiata Berhad to identify measures to beat vandalism.
Mohd Bakri said the police would take stern action to stop any act which violated the law.
“The act by the activists can spark chaos in the country. We will strive to resolve the case quickly,” he said.
On Saturday, the police arrested 31 PSM activists, among them Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, at the Sungai Dua toll plaza in Kepala Batas.
They were travelling in a tour bus, apparently to distribute leaflets on the planned July 9 illegal assembly.