Just as a complaint on alleged police harassment was about to be filed with the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), 44 more cyclists from the ‘Ride for Change’ campaign were detained in Perak.
The cyclists, who are part of a nation-wide tour organised by the Oppressed Peoples’ Network (Jerit), were stopped at the Kanthan police station in Chemor, Perak.
When contacted, Jerit coordinator Y Kohila said the group, which was on the way to Ipoh from Sungai Siput, was stopped by the police at a roadblock erected just in front of the police station at about noon.
According to her, those detained had to furnish the police with their particulars and were also asked if they were ‘gang members’ or linked to any secret society.
The 44 cyclists were released some 40 minutes later and resumed their journey to Ipoh, where they are expected to meet with Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Kohila also submitted a five-page memorandum containing allegations of police harassment to Suhakam at its office in Kuala Lumpur.
“These actions destroy the rights of Malaysians to organise a peaceful programme. This is not a demonstration, it is a bicycle convoy,” read the document.
It also stated that although the Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan was informed of the programme, there was no response from him.
The memorandum was received by Suhakam commissioner N Sivasubramaniam.
The commissioner said he has contacted the police regarding this matter and urged them to look into the complaints, including the one involving an activist who was allegedly sexually assaulted.
He expects to receive feedback from the police in about a week.
Today marks the eighth day of what has become an eventful 16-day ride to Kuala Lumpur, organised by the grassroots coalition. [See map below]
Yesterday, the police arrested 10 participants including Sungai Siput parliamentarian Dr D Jeyakumar.
They were arrested at several places, Taiping and Kuala Kangsar in Perak and Segamat in Johor. All were released on police bail later that evening.
On Saturday, eight bicycles were damaged in a fire set by arsonists when the 50-odd cyclists had stopped for the night in Penanti in Seberang Jaya.
Last Thursday – on the second day – a cyclist was detained in Merbau Pulas, Kedah and detained for several hours for questioning at the Kulim district police headquarters.
On the third day, the lorry transporting the bicycles was stopped at the Penang Bridge and escorted to the Bayan Lepas police station.
The bicycles were however returned to the cyclists after a few hours.
Some 50 cyclists, most of them teenagers, kicked of the Jerit campaign from Alor Star last Tuesday while a southern team of 15 cyclists began their journey on Saturday from Johor.
However, even before they started their two-week long trip, some of the participants from the Johor team were detained for questioning.
Despite this, the cyclists are determined to reach Parliament House as scheduled next Thursday, where both teams will converge to deliver a six-point memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“JERIT’s bicycle campaign is mainly to public create awareness for the public especially on current issues such as economic crisis, workers’ rights, draconian laws and environmental awareness” – according to JERIT’s press statement on ther site.
! Be THERE !