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
Click here to read part 2 of this series
Click here to read part 3 of this series
Click here to read part 4 of this series
Click here to read part 5 of this series
Click here to read part 6 of this series
Click here to read statements of support and solidarity for the EO6 from local and international organizations
Post BERSIH – why the EO6 not released yet ?
BERSIH ended with a huge success. 50,000 people gathered even though thousands of others were arrested. PSM members were cautious but we did participate in the rally. It was a day when the police and Najib lost their bearing and detached themselves from reality. BERSIH had become the hope for a new democratic movement.
With the release of the 1600 people arrested from BERSIH including Anwar Ibrahim, Ambiga, Hadi etc, the question came in everyone’s mind why the PSM6 were still being detained. This brought fresh concerns and anxiety. Our theory that the 6 will be released after the July 9 was now not correct.
Now we started to piece other things together. A day before the BERSIH rally, there was also a rumour that the police station in Sungai Siput was going to be burnt down by PSM supporters. There seemed to be a false flag operation wanting to finish off PSM along with BERSIH. It became clear to us that there seems to be another agenda to finish off PSM. We also know for a fact that Khalid – the Deputy IGP really wanted to punish Dr. Kumar and the PSM. The vendetta started during the bicycle campaign 2 years ago where the police were taken for a ride and felt defeated. They were also totally frustrated about how a small group like PSM could run circles around the police in doing a number of brave campaigns. The Udahlah bersaralah was such one campaign. They wanted to teach us a lesson.
PSM went on a vigorous campaign after the Bersih rally. The newly found momentum after the Bersih rally and the new confidence in the Malaysian movement especially among the youth did help us. More people started to demand for the release of the EO6. It also became the main demand of BERSIH especially Ambiga.
On 10th July, PSM launched a signature campaign, an as well as a fax campaign. Daily 2 or 3 petitions were sendtto either Bukit Aman, the Prime Minister’s office or to the home minister. Vigils were held daily. It seemed at this point with the end of the BERSIH rally, all efforts were made for the release of the EO6. DAP especially played prominent part in calling for the release.
Another success of the campaign was PSM managed to get information from our detainees who were placed in solitary confinement through small pieces of paper on some of the questions they were asked. This info is obtained during lawyers or family visits. It helped us understand where the police investigation was heading. This gave us an advantage as we knew where the enemy is going to attack next.
In 14th. July, PSM held a press conference dubbed CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE EO6 AND PSM. Here we exposed the police and their line of questioning. We exposed the police plot which was that they wanted to say that the PSM members were made use of by the EO6 who were in fact being used by the Malaysian Communist Party. We also revealed some ready made question and answer by the police to defame and spin a story on us. This tactic of ours continued to put the police on the receiving end. Those released on bail in Kepala Batas lodged police reports against the police.
The post BERSIH period seems to be that we were going on the offensive and the police on the defensive. We kept a high level of pressure locally and as well as internationally. The campaign seems to put the police on the defensive as they had to use Facebook to show that family visits were allowed and they allowed three MPs to visit Dr. Jeyakumar.
Vigils continued to intensify all over the country and there were also protests done internationally. On 16 July, PSM launched another nationwide police report against the government and the police calling for the immediate release of the EO6. We targeted 100 reports over the weekend but we were overwhelmed when more than 600 police reports was lodged nationwide. More NGOs and even those seen to be pro-government started to call for the release of the 6. On 16 July – the vigil moved away from the traditional Bukit Aman to another location at Bukit Bintang, Dataran Merdeka and other locations. Prayers were held in many places. Leaflets distributed and spontaneous vigils took place here and there. In Perak where 5 of the EO6 came from, there were daily activities and events calling for the release of the EO6.
On 18th of July – PSM leadership, that is, Dr. Nasir and myself – the Chairperson and the Secretary General, announced that we are surrendering to the Home minister. We said PSM is a registered party and we have got nothing to hide. We were open to be investigated. This really put the police on the defensive. Our openness and boldness put the police in a very difficult position. The police had been very successful in the past for breaking the Socialist Front and other left parties. Today they faced a party which was open and advocated openness. This put the police in a difficult situation in fabricating stories against the PSM.
The 19th July was indeed another special day. It was a day when 5,000 private doctors called for the release of the EO6. This was unprecended as doctors now come out in the open to demand for the release of the EO6, something which had not happened before. On the same day Gerakan broke ranks and called for the release of the EO6. BERSIH also handed a memorandum to the King and among other things called for the release of the EO6.
The campaign seemed to keep gaining momentum. PSM continued to expose the conditions of those in detention and raised concern for the health of those detained. The news of Kumar and Saras’ hospitalizations also raised much concern on their health situation. The news continued to receive much attention in the alternative media while the Government media tried to ignore this.
PSM continued to move the campaign at a fast pace. There were no hours without activities. . When Nazri accused PSM of reviving Communism, the very next day PSM had a press conference where we portrayed dozens of communist books and dozens of t-shirts of communist leaders found in the market. We also revealed several high profile meetings and MOUs signed between UMNO and communist leaders in Vietnam, Cuba and China. Our strategy was so good that we saw that the Government had now stopped using the Communist bogey theory. Home Minister Hishamuddin even went out to say that Communist is ok as long as they don’t mix with BERSIH.
On 21 July- Khairy Jamaluddin – UMNO Youth Leader broke ranks with UMNO and called for the release of the 6.
To be continued…
Parti Sosialis Malaysia