Shot dead by cops: Nameless no more

It has long been known that of those shot dead by police, ethnic Indians made up a disproportionate number of the fatalities. Based on the recently released statistics by the police, that is true.

rights groups on shooting deaths 041210 posingBut for the first time, details such as the age, ethnicity and nationality of almost all 279 people – citizens as well as foreign nationals – who have been killed by the police from 2000 to 2009 were today revealed by human rights groups.

Malaysiakini has earlier reported that since 2001, there had been a 17-fold surge in fatal police shootings up to 2009, when as many as 88 persons were killed by police as compared to five in 2001.

According to statistics provided by police at the sedition trial of Hindraf chief P Uthayakumar earlier this week, there were a shocking 82 cases of fatal police shootings in 2008, followed by 88 such incidences in 2009.

Revealing the statistics today were Lawyers For Liberty (LFL), Suaram and opposition political party PKR, who pointed out that of the 279 persons shot dead, 21.8 percent (61 deaths) were ethnic Indians.

Malays and Chinese, on the other hand, made up 15 percent (42) and 18.6 (52) percent respectively.

Shooting deaths according to ethnicity

2000: Malays (4); Chinese (2) Indians (0)
2001: Malays (0); Chinese (1) Indians (3)
2002: Malays (6); Chinese (12); Indians (6)
2003: Malays (2); Chinese (4); Indians (7)
2004: Malays (2); Chinese (7); Indians (1)
2005: Malays (1); Chinese (4); Indians (4)
2006: Malays (2); Chinese (0); Indians (3)
2007: Malays (3); Chinese (4); Indians (4)
2008: Malays (7); Chinese (9); Indians (11)
2009: Malays (15); Chinese (9); Indians (23)

Total: Malays (42); Chinese (52); Indians (61)

A culture of impunity

Included in the statistics issued by the police on Nov 29 were Vikines Vesuanathan shot dead in 2003 in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan; Muhamad Nir Oth (sic) killed three years later in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur; and Mohd Arifudin Mohamad who was shot dead in Kuantan, Pahang, two years ago and Rames Raman killed in 2008 in Kulim, Kedah.

They were all 19 years old. Several more were listed as having been killed at the age of 20.

In 2009, furthermore, Lobanarthan Gobi was 17 when he was killed together with 18-year old Vissvalingam Mookayah Devar in Klang.

rights group on shooting deaths 041210 n surendranAmong the more recent fatalities are the fatal shootings in April 26 of 14-year-old Aminulrasyid Amzah, and of Mohd Shamil Hafiz Shafie, 16, Mohd Khairul Nizam Tuah, 20, and Mohd Hanafi Omar, 22, on Nov 13 in Shah Alam.

Pinning the blame squarely on the police and the Home Ministry for the tragic deaths of these youths, LFL member N Surendran (right) said the only reason these yet unaccounted for killings have occurred – and many more will occur – is the unwillingness of the authorities to deal with the culture of impunity and ‘trigger-happy’ elements in the police force.

Wording it more bluntly, Surendran said: “Aminulrasyid was seven years old and in primary school, when Vikines was killed in 2003. If the authorities had taken action to prevent these extrajudicial killings since then, Aminulrasyid might be alive today.

“If they don’t put a stop to these killings happening now, children who are in kindergarten this year may in just a few years down the road end up dead from being shot by police,” the lawyer added.

rights group on shooting deaths 041210 fadiah nadwa fikriSurendran was speaking to reporters after a press conference on the issue with Suaram coordinator Lucas Yap Heng Lung, PKR’s Subang MP R Sivarasa and LFL member Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (right) at the KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

Almost half killed were foreigners

Also revealed by the rights groups today was the large number of foreign nationals shot dead by police, whose cases rarely see the light of day in newspaper reports, if at all their identities are made known.

Almost half of those killed by the police in the last decade were foreign nationals – a total 121 or 43 percent.

Of these, slightly more than 40 percent (113) were Indonesians. The largest number of such fatalities took place in 2008 when 54 Indonesians (up from two in 2007) were killed by the police.

Unlike the case with the Malaysians, the majority of the Indonesians killed, or about 60 percent, were not properly identified other than by their nationality. Those unidentified are without names and age.

“In short, human beings are being shot, being bundled up, and buried somewhere without even their identities being discovered. This shows that what has taken root in the police force is lawlessness,” said Surendran.

Other nationalities who have suffered the same fate over the last 10 years, according to the statistics, are Vietnamese (5), Filipinos (1), Thai (1), and 1 African (categorised as ‘Negro’ in the police statistics).

Need to set up IPCMC now

Comparing the numbers to the incidence of police shootings in other countries, Sivarasa said the lack of an independent body in Malaysia to investigate complaints against the police and police misconduct have resulted in the rot.

In New Zealand, for example, that has a population of four million, there had been only 22 persons killed in police shootings over 70 years since 1941, said Sivarasa.

In UK, that has almost twice the population of Malaysia, there have been 48 deaths from police shootings over a period of 22 years, between 1985-2007, he added.

rights group on shooting deaths 041210 r sivarasahSivarasa (left) said the issue stems from the culture of impunity that has set into the police institution whereby a shoot-to-kill policy appears to have the consent, if not encouragement, of the upper levels of the force as well as the ruling politicians.

“This means that the police officers on the ground feel they can do whatever they want because they know they will not be held to account. Shoot, kill, and there will be no questions, no probe, so they continue.

“The inspector-general of police, the people responsible for the PDRM, will not raise these issues, and the politicians in charge – the home minister – will also not question them,” lamented the PKR leader.

NONEHe was referring to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s (right) denial that there had been a surge in police shooting fatalities when asked about it earlier this week.

On the lack of transparency on the issue, Sivarasa noted that the statistics were released by deputy director of the Criminal Investigations Department Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani at Uthayakumar’s trial only after constant pressure from the latter’s lawyers and a directive from the court itself.

Sivarasa said he and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition will be raising the issue and will step up pressure on the government to put in place the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), that was recommended by a royal commission in 2005.

news source: malaysiakini (4 Dec 2010)