There is blood in the gutters and death in the streets of the capital city Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Protesters demanded free elections and the right of assembly and they were met with the threat of a whipping police baton and cease and desist order; their Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections had been outlawed and their rallied declared an unlawful gathering. Twenty thousand progressives, many wearing iconic yellow shirts, rallied nonetheless, marching on the central stadium for their rally. Water cannons, tear gas grenades, thousands of bright red riot cops, and a determined government drove back the righteous revolutionaries and imprisoned a tenth of their number. A grand revolution, declared, Bersih 2.0, of Oceania has begun, however it will be met with a stiff authoritarian resistance, code-named “Operation Erase Bersih.”
What Exactly are the Protesters Challenging?
Prime Minister Najib Razak is the current head of the United Malays National Organization, a political conglomerate that has ruled the country since its independence from Great Britain. While his government has attempted economic progress political opponents have condemned his party’s widespread use of fraud, corruption, and racial discrimination to retain its failing authority. Marginalized races form the base of the coalition, consisting of over 62 separate non government organizations across all ideological spheres. They all want one thing; fair elections and reforms allowing new political parties into the ruling government of Malaysia. They were denied, so they choose July 9, 2011, the 54th anniversary of Malaysian Independence for their social revolution, Bersih 2.0.
What Has Happened to the Demonstrators?
The authority’s militaristic action has largely broken up the rallies; now the crest of this current protest has receded they have begun releasing 1600 of the jailed civilians. Reports from protesters of Bersih2.0 say that at least one man has died because of breathing problems related to the protests. The police lack the capacity to quickly take on so many new inmates and it is speculated that executives want to mitigate the rioter’s fury. A short stint in holding cools tempers, a long time behind bars sparks hatred and rage.
What About the Remaining Leaders of the Demonstration?
They are going to remain locked down for the foreseeable future. Preceding the protest opposition political leaders have been targeted and silenced using aggressive police arrests. Over one hundred were jailed for everything from distributing T-shirts to holding public rallies. Human and democratic rights were trampled; many leaders of Bersih 2.0 were deliberately threatened, intimidated and brutally treated. An additional hundred were jailed throughout the city during the protest. These important public leaders are in stasis; their fate has yet to be decided. Some who were released were re-arrested.
How is the Government Reaction to The Rally?
Major fissures have emerged between the different political spheres throughout the government cast vastly different opinions on Bersih 2.0. Many of the extreme conservative elements have denounced the protesters, accusing them of “tarnishing” the country’s image and sowing anarchy. The police chief of the Kuala Lumpur has objected, sympathizing with to the demonstrators because of the harsh police conduct. These opinions will be crucial in determining the future maturation of these righteous free election demonstrators.
Bersih 2.0 will, and must, succeed for the continuation of Malaysia; otherwise it is probable civil war will engulf the nation. That is unthinkable for our interdependent economy and international relations; the global recession of 2011 will only get worse at snowball into more anarchy around the world.