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Pakatan Rakyat believes it has succeeded in holding a mass rally to call for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) despite what they described as “excessive force” used by the police to crush an event which turn the country’s capital into a warzone. The opposition pact’s leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today police reaction to the peaceful protest was “unwarranted” as hundreds have been arrested while demonstrators, including him, were teargassed and fired with chemical-laced water but maintained that they prevailed in “proving the point.”

“(Datuk Seri) Najib Razak said ISA opposers should give opinion instead of demonstrating but apparently he has not heard of the hundreds of suggestions and testimonials of those tortured while being detained under the ISA,” Anwar told a press conference held at PAS headquarters amidst an on-going street battle just outside the building.He said letter had been sent to the prime minister requesting a meeting be held between PR leaders and him to discuss, among many, the issue of ISA in which today’s rally would have been called off should Najib respond. He did not.

PR and rally organisers, the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) then resorted to holding a rally at various points in the capital and planned to march towards the National Palace to hand over a resolution to the King but failed after police and riot squads blocked off all major routes leading to the palace.

Salahuddin Ayub, vice-president of PAS, said even though they did not manage to send the resolution to the King, he still considered today’s event a success as it had managed to mobilise some 20,000 participants. More than 150 protestors have been arrested and taken to the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters. Another PAS vice president, Datuk Mahfuz Omar who was among those present at the press conference demanded the release of all detainees. He also said the party has prepared a legal team to handle their arrest.

GMI chairman and rally chief coordinator Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said although Najib had promised to review the law, the group have longed believe that the ISA, which allows detention without trial, should be abolished altogether.


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