16 December, 2008

Protesters on bicycles defy police

Police have detained more than two dozen teenagers taking part in a protest over low wages that involves a mass bicycle trek across Malaysia to deliver a petition to the prime minister, a labor rights group said Tuesday.

The riders are mainly ethnic Indian farmers, factory workers and their children. The minority Indian community, among Malaysia's poorest, has been hit hard by rising inflation that recently reached its highest level in nearly 30 years.

Two groups began pedaling on Dec. 3, one setting out from the north and the other from the south, said Y. Kohila, a coordinator for protest organizer, the Oppressed People's Movement. They will each cover about 250 miles (400 kilometers) before they meet in Parliament on Thursday to hand a petition to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other lawmakers.

Twenty-eight teenage riders were detained Monday at a police roadblock in central Selangor state, said Kohila. They remained in police custody Tuesday because authorities were only willing to release them to their parents, most of whom are in northern Malaysia.

"Police made this move to save these children from exploitation by irresponsible parties," Selangor Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar told Bernama.

Kohila denied the teenagers were coerced into the campaign, which she said is meant to "make the government take action to alleviate the problems of plantation and factory workers."

Over the past two weeks, police have arrested the riders at separate locations for conducting a public protest without permission, but later freed them without charges. The riders have continued their journey after being released.

The group's wide-ranging demands include a minimum wage law, tighter government control of consumer prices, better public housing and a halt to privatization of public services including water, health care and education.

Meanwhile, Police will take action against Sungai Siput member of parliament Dr D. Jeyakumar for allegedly using children in an illegal gathering in Rawang Monday, Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said.

Khalid told reporters here that Dr Jeyakumar was arrested later after he admitted to having organised the event which had no police permit.

He said Dr Jeyakumar would be taken action under Seksyen 32 of the Act for using children in the gathering.

He said those aged 18 and below are considered children under the Child Act 2001.

"The children were never arrested... we saved them from being exploited," he said


Jerit cyclists detained and tortured at Rawang police station

Written by Sivarajan
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A day that saw an incident free day of cycling took a turn at Rawang . We arrived in Rawang at about 4.30pm. We were supposed to meet up with YB ADUN Rawang, Gan Pei Nei at Rawang Jaya . She and her delegation planned to cycle with the JERIT convoy from there to Rawang town.

But a roadblock greeted us at Rawang . As usual the police requested for names and IC of all the cyclist and coordinator. We intervened and told the police that it is not necessary to record names and addresses of all cyclist as we have a list that we can give it to them. After much argument we took back all the IC of the cyclist and gave the coordinators IC to record . Myself ,Sugu, Saras,Rani ,Mohan gave our IC to be recorded . The IC were returned after recording. But my IC changed hands to another officer ......more

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