KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Bersih 2.0 supporters have accused the police of “clear intent” to cause injury or even death during its July 9 rally given the “lethal” levels of tear gas and chemicals in the water cannons used to disperse tens of thousands who poured into the capital last month.

They told the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today that the inquiry into claims of police brutality must “investigate why the police is using such dangerous products that have a track record of causing death.”

“These canisters state clearly that they can cause serious injury and death. The US-based Federal Laboratories supplies the tear gas to the Israeli army and have been sued by Palestinians who lost family members,” Fadiah Nadwa Fikri from Lawyers for Liberty said today.

She also told The Malaysian Insider that tear gas produced by Federal Laboratories has been banned in several countries and this “raised questions over why the police are using such weaponry.”

Tenaganita chief Irene Fernandez also told the commission that “police knew exactly what they were doing as they already had the tear gas and chemicals ready. There was clear intent to cause harm; that is what is worrying.”

Opposition leaders and human rights activists have repeatedly claimed that police used excessive and brutal force in dealing with the July 9 rally for free and fair elections, arresting nearly 1,700 on the day, leaving scores injured and one ex-soldier dead.

PKR also previously claimed that police had fired tear gas canisters directly at Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, an act they want classified as attempted murder.

But police have formed six committees of their own to investigate whether the force had acted improperly after locking down the capital from the night before the rally.

The police recently released videos that appeared to absolve the force of blame and show that riot police were provoked by the demonstrators.

Suhakam was receiving testimonies today from the coalition of 62 non-governmental organisations ahead of a public inquiry that commissioner James Nayagam said would likely be held after Ramadan.

By Shannon Teoh, www.themalaysianinsider.com
August 05, 2011