Malaysia’s Government Faces Inquiry Over Protest Response

JULY 14, 2011, 12:06 PM ET  By Celine Fernandez

After facing an estimated 20,000 protestors last weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s government now faces a new challenge: an inquiry into alleged use of excessive force by the police during the rally.

At a press conference on Thursday, Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission, better known by its Malay abbreviation Suhakam, announced it will hold a public inquiry into the allegations. During the rally, organized by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih, protester Baharuddin Ahmad collapsed and died of a heart attack, and other participants said the police were too aggressive in their use of tear gas and in detaining more than 1,600 people temporarily.

“Suhakam feels that in view of the number of complaints on excessive use of force, the incidents of tear gas, the death of Baharuddin Ahmad and the denial of access to lawyers, various violations of human rights could have happened,” said Suhakam Vice Chairman Khaw Lake Tee. The group said in a statement that further details of the inquiry would be announced in two weeks’ time.

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