On 8th September 2010, Lawyers for Liberty accompanied the family of Aminulrasyid Amzah and other police shooting victims to hand over a memorandum seeking justice to the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein Onn. Regrettably, they were met with apathy and indifference by officials at the Home Ministry. They made no effort to find out what the matter was, and seemed only interested in taking the memorandum and sending the group away as quickly as possible. Invariably, this has been the attitude of the Ministry and the police whenever the people have come to them with grievances.
This year, young Aminulrasyid Amzah will not be celebrating Hari Raya with his family and friends. He lies alone in the cold hard ground, his life’s journey cut short on April 26 by a policeman’s bullet. For his family, the Raya season has sharpened the pain, and the sense of loss. The only child among grown-up siblings, he was the spinning-top around which the family’s celebration revolved. He was the life of the festivities and he is gone now.
Shaken terribly by the unexpected tragedy, the family has been dignified in their grief and stoical in the face of stonewalling by the authorities. Their quiet courage is in stark contrast to the evasive, dishonest and frankly criminal response of the authorities to the incident. Only one police officer was charged for manslaughter when clearly there was more than one perpetrator. They fabricated evidence by claiming to have found a parang in the car. They outrageously alleged Aminulrasyid and his 15 year old companion Azamuddin Omar were suspected criminals. They falsely claimed that Aminulrasyid had tried to reverse the car into the police. These false statements were criminal in nature, yet no one in the police hierarchy has been charged for any offence.
Perhaps this is hardly surprising, considering that Selangor CPO Khalid Abu Bakar was among those who had made these statements. In the absence of an independent police complaints mechanism, who will investigate any wrongdoings of the Selangor police chief himself? Surely not the IGP, who in response to public outrage over Aminulrasyid’s murder, notoriously threatened to take all cops off the streets. Worse, schoolboy Azamuddin Omar was assaulted by several policeman after the vehicle had come to a stop, yet no police officer has been brought to justice. This is another failure on the part of the Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, as he has the power to oversee and direct police investigations.
But the worst failure of all lies with the government of this country. Despite a disturbing number of clearly unjustified fatal shootings by police over the years prior to Aminulrasyid’s killing, the government failed to intervene to reform the police force. Even as Aminulrasyid was shot, a campaign was underway seeking justice for Norizan Salleh, shot five times the previous October without justification. On the contrary, the government has been quick to defend the police against criticism by lawyers and human rights groups. Had they heeded these warnings, Aminulrasyid might yet have celebrated Hari Raya this weekend.
In the final reckoning, the blood of Aminulrasyid is on the hands of the government. Once again, and we hope for the last time, we call for justice to be done in the case of Aminulrasyid and Azamuddin.
(Lawyers for Aminulrasyid’s family)
*Versi Bahasa Malaysia juga ada di sini.