Hundreds of thousands of people thronged the city of Kuala Lumpur in ‘Bersih’ colour of yellow to demonstrate and call for free & fair elections in the country as the 13th General Election looms.
The nation gathered in the city as early as yesterday, in a bid to bypass the anticipated road blocks in an attempt to prevent people from holding the Bersih rally at Merdeka Square, where Malaysians gained independence from the British rule in 1957. Bersih is a coalition of non-governmental organisations for free and fair elections with the aim of revising the current electoral system to ensure fair elections in Malaysia.
The Square was sealed off with barbed wires & barricades, barring citizens from using the place to hold a sit-down demonstration in the capital city of Malaysia. By mid morning, tens of thousands of people have poured into the city, accessing various routes & calling ‘Bersih!’ (clean in Malay) & ‘Hidup Rakyat!’ (Long live the nation) as they march pass police & authorities even though the event was scheduled for 2:30pm.
Ambiga addressing the crowd.
Dressed in yellow T-Shirts, Bersih 3.0 is the third rally led by Datuk Ambiga Sreeneevasan, a former Bar Council President who received the International Women of Courage Award in 2009 for championing social justice & human rights. The crowd roared when she arrived to give a speech just outside the Jamek Mosque, situated at the confluence of two rivers that gave Kuala Lumpur its name. Bersih had been declared illegal by the ruling government and there’s a mainstream media blackout of the event held on 9 July 2011 & today. Malaysians in other countries rallied in their respective places in solidarity with their people back home.
Jamek Mosque, at the confluence of Gombak & Klang River in Kuala Lumpur.
Peaceful demonstrators took to the streets in solidarity with people who suffered injustice & citizens who have had their rights violated by unconstitutional acts of the ruling government.
A view from the official Bersih's photo:-
Water cannon truck deployed.
As I post this, police sprayed chemical-laced water & fired teargas into the crowd to disperse them. People ran in all directions but the Light Rail Transit did not stop to allow passengers to board or escape. In order to get this news out, I had to run for cover.
Footnote:- Internet access from phones and broadband modems had been throttled to curb citizen journalists from uploading instant news. Follow hashtag #bersih and #occupydataran on Twitter.