Ten thousand Malaysians joined the #KitaLawan (We Fight) rally last Saturday to press for the release of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. It was Malaysia’s first major rally of the year, and was organized in response to the high court decision affirming the sodomy conviction of Anwar.
Anwar is serving a five-year sentence after he was found guilty of the sodomy charge filed by a former aide. But Anwar said the case was politically motivated and he accused the judges of “bowing to the powers” in “murdering the judiciary.”
The number of people who attended the rally was impressive, since the police had earlier warned organizers that they might be arrested for sedition.
“If they are gathering to intimidate the government, and others, this is wrong,” said police Deputy Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim.
But this didn’t deter ordinary Malaysians from showing up in the streets and gathering in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Center. To their credit, the police also exercised restraint during the actual event and allowed the program to end peacefully.
“We are proud to hold the record of (our rallies) causing no damage to public property, not having ever caused unrest and we have gathered with noble intentions, and shown courage to resist continued oppression,” said Batu MP Tian Chua as reported by alternative news magazine Malaysiakini.