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31 Participants of Covid-19 Candlelight Vigil nabbed by PDRM

Yesterday (19 August), 31 members from the Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat (SSR) were being arrested by the police for holding a peaceful candlelight vigil in memory of all those who died of Covid-19 so far at Dataran Merdeka.

According to NST, the event was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. but it was called off by the organiser last minute. However, some of the members who are unaware of the event being cancelled had turned up at the site.

Unfortunately, the police were quick to reach the site and they had detained the 17 men and 14 women, dragging them to the Dang Wangi headquarters about 8.40pm.

It was also reported that the police had dragged them by force without being read their rights nor had the police tell them the reason for the arrest.

Source: Twitter

A video that was circulated on the Internet showed the members of SSR asking the police officers “Are we being arrested?”, where the police had not give any answer and proceed to drag them into the back of the police lorry.

Meanwhile, one of the participants, Nalina recorded the whole situation on her Instagram Live. At a moment, she can be heard shouting “I’m not going anywhere until my rights are read to me!”

“I want to cooperate but am I being arrested?” while forcefully being dragged by police officers.

In addition, the participants’ handphones and Identification Cards (IC) were seized by the police too.

Among those detained were #Lawan organiser Mohammad Asraf Sharaf, Undi18 co-founders Qyira Yusri and Tharma Pilai, and Misi Solidariti founder Sarah Irdina Mohamad Ariff.

The incident went viral on social media as netizens accused the PDRM of using intimidation and force to silence them. In addition, netizens pointed out that the participants were being forced to cramp into the back of the police truck and this is contradicting to the SOP that requires physical distancing.

Meanwhile, the lawyers representing the group was denied entry for almost an hour at the Dang Wangi police station, which is normally not the case.

To conclude the arrest, the PDRM said that the case is being investigated under Section 9 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2021 as they’ve failed to notify authorities of the gathering. In addition, they were being issued a RM2,000 fine for violating the Covid-19 SOPs.

Responding to the incident, UNDI18 have released a statement, expressing their disappointment in the PDRM for using intimidation and lawful arrests made by the police against the participants.

In the statement, they said that about 50 participants had observed the physical distancing as per the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) but were still being fine for violating the SOP.

“Undi18 asserts that the lawful actions exercised by the police violated three fundamental rights guaranteed by the Federal Constitution: the right to assemble peaceably, the right to be informed of the grounds of their arrest, and right the legal representation.”

“No citizen should be arrested without any reason and face police intimidation for gathering peacefully.” they said.

The incident had made it to the headlines of most publications but the police had not respond to the claims.

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