Himpunan Hijau protestors were met with brute force during arrest when demanding the shutdown of the rare earth factory, Lynas Advance Material Plant in Gebeng, near Kuantan yesterday. 16 of them, including an Australian environmental activist, were arrested and brought to Kuantan District Police Station (IPD Kuantan). Two of those arrested were brought to Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan (HTAA) after sustaining injuries during the arrest.
SUARAM strongly condemns the use of unnecessary and excessive force by the police and further preventing people from exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression assembly. The action of the police reflects that the law enforcement agency was more interested in protecting Lynas Corporation rather than safeguarding the rights and interest of the people who protested peacefully against the controversial rare earth processing plant.
It is even more appalling that the protesters, who gathered at the IPD Kuantan in support of the 16 fellow protesters held by police, were verbally abused and physically attacked by some 15 unidentified individuals, right in front of the police officers at a police station.
We strongly question why there was no action from the police to stop immediately the violent attacks of these thugs that took place in front of their watchful eyes? Why not a single thug was arrested for causing injuries to others but 16 peaceful protesters were detained for merely protesting peacefully to protect the health of the people and the environment of Kuantan?
Suaram demands a thorough investigation of the violent attacks of these thugs. These thugs should be arrested and brought to justice. The OCPD of Kuantan and his officers who have neglected their duties to take immediate action against the thugs and protect civilians from the violent attacks should be held accountable with disciplinary punishment.
Any failure to conduct such investigation and arrest the thugs and discipline the police officers involved would only go to show that the police force are condoning violence and siding with Lynas Corporation.