Freed from solitary confinement at last, Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah turned up at Dataran Merdeka here tonight to thank Malaysians for their unwavering support.
The 60-year old insisted that her detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) was unlawful and credited her supporters for their nightly protest as the reason for her release after 10 days.
“I was released because of all of you and your support. Thank you, thank you all. My detention is illegal and a violation of my rights.
“It is meant to frighten and cow us down so that we don’t have the rally but the people have become brave,” she told the crowd of people there whose spirit did not appear to have been dampened by the rain.
Many stood or sat on the streets dressed in the signature yellow-coloured Bersih T-shirt, some carried umbrellas to shield them from the rain, some wore raincoats, and some others forewent either.
Maria also rebuffed claims that Bersih 2.0 had received a massive grant from US billionaire George Soros to carry out unconstitutional activities.
“Bersih doesn’t take money from Soros foundation. They don’t believe. They think we got an account of RM3.2 million,” she said, referring to the police.
She recounted her detention at an undisclosed location, adding that she was subject to lengthy police questioning.
“It was solitary confinement with no contact with anybody. Every time I leave my cell, I was blindfolded with large goggles. I don’t really know where I am… that is meant to scare me because it is in an undisclosed place. The interrogation happened every day for long hours,” she said.
Tonight’s solidarity gathering was joined by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Chua Tian Chang and Sivarasa Rasiah from PKR as well as DAP federal lawmaker Teresa Kok.
Maria’s three children were also present at the gathering.
“We were really happy. We were excited. Nobody knew she will be released tonight,” one of her sons exclaimed.
Former Bersih 2.0 chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan praised Maria for possessing the qualities of a “true leader”, saying she had put together a team that was able to continue the work even in the absence its its head.
“Even though Maria was arrested, the team continued her work. The entire team stepped up to the plate.
“That’s the mark of a true leader, when the leader is not there, the work still goes on,” the lawyer told the crowd.
In her parting words just before leaving the gathering, Maria promised to continue with her Bersih work.
The crowd continued to cheer for Maria and even held up posters with the words ‘Love Maria’ as she left. The gathering dispersed at about 10pm.
Source : KAMLES KUMAR@The Malay Mail Online