(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Suhakamís belated decision to conduct a full inquiry into police atrocities and vandalism against a peaceful crowd at the Kesas Highway on Sunday is most welcome, as Suhakamís continued silence on the avalanche of complaints about police brutalities on Sunday would have destroyed its credibility.
What is needed now is for Suhakam to act with despatch as it should not be seen to be dragging its feet. Suhakam should not only protect and promote human rights, as provided by its charter, it must be seen to be protecting and promoting human rights and be in the forefront against blatant human rights violations.
The Bar Councilís Legal Aid Centre has reported that some 26 people arrested on Sunday have reported injuries as a result of police beatings. Many suffered serious injuries, such as cracked ribs and wide lacerations from truncheon/rattan blows.
The most seriously injured, however, are Saiful Kamaruzaman @ Khairi, who was warded in the intensive care unit of the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang after being hit by a tear gas canister and Saidin Wateh @ Pak Din, who though completely blinded by tear gas attack, was only given medical treatment 24 hours after his arrest.
Suhakam should draw up a Code of Best Practices to forbid the police from wantonly firing tear gas and chemically-laced water cannons or any form of police rampage and vandalism against a dispersing peaceful crowd.
It should also advise the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, to publicly apologise for the policeís trigger-happy firing of tear gas and water cannons at the peaceful crowds on Sunday.
There can be no justification whatsoever for the police to fire tear gas or water cannots at a dispersing peaceful crowd, which must be categorised as a gross abuse of police powers by a vengeful and spiteful police force.
Suhakamís call to the leaders of all political parties to work with the authorities on an appropriate framework to govern assemblies in the country is apt and timely, although it should be targetting the authorities which refuse to be reasonable and uphold the Constitutional right of peaceful assembly and the Rukunegara principle of a democratic society.
Suhakam should take the initiative to convene a roundtable conference between the police and the political parties to work out an appropriate framework to govern assemblies in the countries in line with the Article 10 of the Constitution on peaceful assembly and the Rukunegara principle on the maintenance of a democratic way of life.
Suhakam can be assured that Barisan Alternative political leaders would be very co-operative to work out such an appropriate framework. The only problem is whether the police authorities would be equally co-operative - whether they would be allowed to do so by the Barisan Nasional government - to uphold the Constitution and the Rukunegara.