31 Covid-19 Vigil Participants Arrested At Dataran Merdeka And Fined RM2,000 Each
About 31 participants at a candlelight vigil dedicated to Covid-19 victims were arrested by the police at around 8.30pm last night (19 August) at Dataran Merdeka, KL. Among the participants include 17 men and 14 women who were then taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters (IPD).
The arrest was met with criticism from rights groups and civil societies as well as netizens on social media who questioned why the police were arresting attendees at a peaceful memorial. Several videos online also showed some participants being dragged and hauled into the waiting Black Marias.
Petaling Jaya councillor @nalinadap was among those arrested tonight by the police for staging a demonstration at the Dataran Merdek. She continuously asked the police whether she was arrested while being hauled up in the Black Maria. pic.twitter.com/uia0X2EjWJ — Norman Goh (@imnormgoh) August 19, 2021
“The police reportedly failed to inform the participants that they were being arrested nor were their rights read to them. Police officers also reportedly dragged two women against their will into the vehicles,” read a statement by Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).
Dang Wangi police chief, Noor Dellhan Yahaya said the police had opened an investigation under Section 9 of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for failing to notify authorities of the gathering. The participants were also investigated under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
The participants have since been released at around midnight to early this morning. However, all 31 participants were met with a RM2,000 fine each.