Sunday mornings are "naik Bukit Kiara" or aerobics in the park days for me and my friend, Mia.
Yesterday I told Mia that I would not be joining her for our routine Sunday morning work-out because I was going to walk in the city. It'd be a nice day for that.
I'd probably meet some people there too.
And, wouldn't that co-incide with the planned walk in celebration of the International Human Rights Day?
But, wasn't that cancelled by the organisers, the Malaysian Bar Council?
Until today, I cannot understand why the bar council decided to cancel the walk which was really for a very very very good cause.
(Council president) Ambiga attributed it to the controversy blahblahblah.
I personally think that is balderdash. You are lawyers, for heavens' sake! You defend people's rights all the time.
I know you cannot get a police permit. That has been long established. No brainer.
So, why? Pressure, pressure, pressure, huh? Ok. I get it.
You know -- this was not a march against anyone. This was a walk for human rights, that everyone, including the government should support.
I don't care if only 100 people would be gathered there. I was gonna walk that mile. It would be peaceful.
And waddya know? There were fewer than 100 people all ready to walk. But guess what? There were more, far, far more policemen and women on duty all the way from Sogo to the Bar Council.
There were more police cars than I thought necessary for such a peaceful assembly of not that many people. And there was a helicopter fiercely hovering above.
Someone said there were 500 policemen/women.
And so many journalists and photographers.
In short -- police and media personnel far outnumbered marchers.
So, if I were a criminal or an opportunist, I'd go on a spree everytime there is a scheduled protest or rally.
I can be sure that all the police personnel will be at the rally "to keep the peace".
I have never ever felt so safe with so many policemen and women around.
It was a peaceful march. Some representatives of a political party carried banners, but that was to be expected. I'd be surprised if they did not.
The marhers were told to disperse at least three times at different points.
Why they were told, beats me. No one was shouting. People were walking along the pavement. Everything was peaceful.
There was not much traffic anyway.
It was for HUMAN RIGHTS.
But, obviously the walkers did not seem to heed the warnings and continued their peaceful walk. The police did not fire tear gas or chemical-laced water.
But when they stopped at Jalan Tun Perak, there was a little bit of chaos when one or two people (including a woman) started speaking. And then there were raised voices.
I could not quite hear but the female speaker was pretty fiery. It went on for about 10 minutes.
Then a plainclothes policeman (in collared brown/white box-motif t-shirt) said to his colleagues: "Hey, mari, kita tangkap itu perempuan."
And they did. That was not necessary.
Eight people (including Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Sivarasa, Latifah Koyah and a lady known only as Norazah) were taken away.
My friend, Michelle, told me that the police roughed up the lady as they were taking her away.
Kesian dia, I said.
But I suppose that's what police do (the world over) when they take "protesters" away.
I think it was such a peaceful and incident-free rally that "tidak berbaloi" (not justified) if no arrests were made, given the strength of police presence there.
At the same time, those arrested knew what they were in for, given the circumstances. Still the arrests were unnecessary.
Frankly, I did not think that there was a need for any fiery or antagonistic speeches. We should have just walked on, peacefully to the bar council building.
Overall, though, it was peaceful.
One guy standing at Jalan Tun Perak was giving a "blast of a speech". People walked past him. I think someone from Keadilan persuaded him to move away from there.
And then, much later, he re-appeared near the bar council building, doing the same number.
We were sure the police would take him away.
We had no idea what he was saying but he was shouting and shouting. He seemed angry.
Sure enough, the police took him away -- I hope for teh tarik because he was really harmless. Just a bit of nuisance, maybe.
It was a good walk, though too leisurely for my liking because I'd get more sweaty and a better work-out going up the hill.
Well, it sure looked like our police men, women and officers much prefer to attend peaceful rallies.
Why, they were walking together with us...
Here's a tribute to the International Human Rights Day although it is a really sad day for human rights!
May we never have to walk for our rights and freedom....
Please read Rocky's Bru, Jeff Ooi's, Tony Yew's, Stephen Francis' and Shar101's.
(At this point, there is no word about the fate of those arrested although lawyer and human rights activist Haris Ibrahim and several lawyers went to Bukit Aman to look into their case. Also Edmund Bon who is Rocky's lawyer has been arrested for allegedly preventing KL City Hall workers from taking down the banners at the bar council building.)