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Cops arrest 14 at Brickfields candlelight vigil (Updated 12.29am)

Updated 12.29am, 7 May 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 May 2009: Police arrested 14 people taking part in a candlelight vigil for detained political scientist Wong Chin Huat outside the Brickfields district police station tonight.

However, all 14 were released unconditionally a few hours later.

The 14 were part of a small group who had gathered at 9pm to show support for Wong, who was arrested last night under the Sedition Act and remanded until 8 May.

Wong, an academic, was arrested for writing several allegedly seditious articles including on the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign.

According to a Malaysiakini report, among those arrested were its columnist Josh Hong, Serdang member of Parliament Teo Nie Ching, Suara Keadilan Chinese edition editor Law Teck Hao, 29, Suaram coordinator John Liu (26) and a few members of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, including its civil rights committee vice-head Liau Kok Fah (47).

The arrests took place in two waves, with the first taking place at 9.15pm, and the second an hour later.

According to one of those was detained in the first wave, Melissa Wong, 25, there were only less than a dozen people taking part in the vigil when the police moved in.

“I heard about the candlelight vigil from a friend and decided to turn up to show support for Chin Huat. I had only just collected my candle when a senior police officer armed with a baton threatened us and said ‘I will give to the count of three to disperse or else I will arrest you’,” she said.

“It was very unfair. We were given only seconds to disperse. Before we could even move, the police officers — many of them in plainclothes — moved in and arrested us,” Wong told The Nut Graph.

She said two of those detained, Suaram’s Liu and Temme Lee, started to mobilise and inform others about the arrests. However, lawyers who came to the scene were not allowed into the police station to meet with the detainees.

“We were notified that statements would be taken but we were advised by our lawyer friends not do so until lawyers were admitted,” she said, adding that a second batch of six detainees were brought into the compound a while later.

“I think it is pretty unfair. In my opinion, I feel the police were out to get people. There was no negotiation with the organisers. For no crime other than taking part in the vigil, we were arrested,” Wong lamented.

Those detained were taken into the police compound and had their personal particulars recorded before being released in batches, with the last person leaving at around 11.20pm.

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