Wartawan AFP sendiri saksikan
keganasan polis di Lebuhraya Kesas
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KLANG, Malaysia, Nov 5 (AFP) - Malaysian riot police fired tear gas and
water cannon Sunday to break up a protest by supporters of jailed
ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, witnesses said.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said the crowd of opposition supporters
numbering at least 1,000 fled as riot police advanced along a main highway
which had earlier been closed to traffic.
Police were seen kicking and beating some detainees as they led them away
and damaging some cars and motorbikes with their batons.
They shot several more tear gas rounds into a palmoil plantation by the
roadside where some people took refuge.
Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is temporarily confined to a
wheelchair, said protesters had agreed to disperse peacefully before the
police advanced. She estimated the crowd at several thousand.
"I think they (police) were just trying to create disorder so the
opposition would be blamed," she told AFP after supporters had carried her
wheelchair to a car.
Earlier Wan Azizah and the leaders of the three other opposition parties
had led a march down the highway, after police blocked access to the venue
of a planned rally nearby.
The crowd, shouting "Reformasi!" and "Free Anwar!" and beating drums, had
halted a few hundred metres from a police line at a toll plaza to hear
speeches from opposition leaders.
"As we were telling them (the crowd) to leave, the police ambushed us,"
said Wan Azizah, head of the National Justice Party. "The crowd was very
She said 80 people had been detained and six members of her party suffered
head wounds from police batons.
There were unconfirmed reports that some protesters attacked a
plain-clothes policeman just before the police advanced. About 10 people
were seen attacking a man but his identity could not be established.
Riot police damaged an AFP photographer's camera after he took a picture
of one scuffle.
Selangor state police chief Nik Ismail Nik Yusuf said 30 people were
arrested and one policeman was injured. He said 700 police -- regular
officers, riot police, the air wing and paramilitary forces -- were
Police fired water cannon and tear gas at several junctions off the Kesas
Highway to disperse the "illegal assembly," Bernama news agency quoted him
Protesters had called a rally in a privately-owned field near Klang 20 km
(12 miles) west of Kuala Lumpur. Police had declared it illegal and said
those taking part could be jailed for up to one year.
Police had blocked access roads to the rally site and then closed the
highway itself. A traffic jam several kilometers long built up and
opposition leaders and supporters walked towards the venue.
Amid the traffic jam, opposition supporters earlier in the afternoon
staged impromptu protests, shouting "Reformasi!" (Reform).
"Up, up Anwar, down, down Mahathir," one placard read.
Opponents of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had called the rally to
protest at Anwar's plight and at curbs on freedom of assembly and other
perceived rights abuses.
"We are not looking for trouble but we are here because we love this
country," Lim Kit Siang, chairman of the Democratic Action Party, told the
crowd just before the police advanced.
"We want justice, freedom and democracy to be restored to the people."
Wan Azizah, who suffered a leg injury last week, told the crowd: "We are
here to demand the people's rights. Free Anwar, restore the people's
rights and give us justice."
Organisers of the planned rally, in a statement beforehand, accused a
"dictatorial leadership" of denying civil rights and sacking Anwar "in the
most callous and despicable manner."
They accused the government of violating constitutional rights of free
speech, freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
Police have wide powers to ban demonstrations.
Anwar was sacked by Mahathir on September 2, 1998 and arrested 18 days
later following mass anti-government rallies.
Anwar claims Mahathir orchestrated a conspiracy to frame him on criminal
charges because he was seen as a political threat. The government denies
any plot and says courts are independent.
In April 1999 Anwar was jailed for six years for abuse of power and in
August this year was imprisoned nine years for sodomy. The sentences will