By Thanusya Shanmuganathan
KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — A mechanical engineering graduate has alleged that he sustained permanent damage to his eyesight after he was hit by a tear gas canister fired by riot police at Berish protestors on April 28, a Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry into violence at the Bersih rally for electoral reforms heard today.
Asrul Wadi Ahmad, 26, from Kepala Batas, said he was looking for his father outside the Majid Jamek mosque here after performing his prayers when the gas canister suddenly hit him, injuring his right eye.
“It was chaotic outside the mosque as I was trying to call my father on his mobile phone when I was hit by the canister.
“My right eye was bleeding and a few people managed to carry me into a building where I saw many medical officers. I do not know what building it was,” Asrul added.
Due to the injury, Asrul claimed that the vision on his right eye has dropped to 15-20 per cent, and this has cost him his chance of getting employed.
“The doctors at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital have told me that they cannot repair my eye.
“I also cannot find a job despite having gone for many interviews after the incident but all the employers were concerned that I may not be able to work due to the loss of my sight,” he said angrily.
Another witness, insurance agent Lee Teck Yew, 39, from Kuala Lumpur, alleged that a group of policemen assaulted him while he was waiting to board a train at the Masjid Jamek LRT station after participating in an anti-Lynas protest at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) park on April 28.
The anti-Lynas group had gathered at KLCC at noon on April 28 before converging with Bersih 3.0′s gathering at Dataran Merdeka.
He said policemen came to the station platform through an open gate at the ticket counter and attacked him.
“I think the police attacked me because I was taking pictures and videos of the protest from KLCC to Masjid Jamek.
“I asked why I was being arrested but was told to just follow them.
“I shouted at the police to stop hitting me or I will take pictures of them,” he said.
However, he said he had no idea why the police also tried to harm other people on the platform.
Lee suffered injuries to an elbow and a ear, and was also detained at the Jalan Semarak Police Training Centre (Pulapol).
He submitted to the panel video and photographic evidence that he took throughout the day on April 28.
“I also managed to take the video while I was travelling in the police truck to Pulapol, without the knowledge of the police officers who accompanied me and the other detainees,” he said.
The inquiry panel, led by Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee and aided by commissioners Professor Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen, will be interviewing some 22 witnesses over a period of 22 days.
The inquiry continues tomorrow.