Oppressed People's Network (JERIT) has initiated a nationwide cycling campaign that carries the theme of ‘Rakyat Pengayuh Perubahan' which explains the rakyat drives the change. The participants in this campaign come from various backgrounds such as from plantation workers support committee, industrial workers' coalition, farmers, urban pioneers, students and youth groups.
Other NGOs, trade unions, human right groups and political parties also will be a part in this campaign. Grassroots coalition Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) is riding the unique route to advocating change - by cycling across the country. The ‘People the force of change' campaign is one of the Jerit's ways of raising awareness about issues like food shortages, global food shortage, environmental problems, draconian laws and the financial crisis etc - in an eco-friendly way to boot.
The cycling campaign was inspired by class struggles of the Bukit Asahan estate workers in Malacca in the 1970s, who then marched to Kuala Lumpur to meet the prime minister to resolve their problems.
Participants would simultaneously start off from 2 spots - Kedah (Alor Setar), and Johor (Skudai) - with an average of 50 riders for each convoy.
The campaign was launched by the Selangor state Chief Minister Dato Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on November 29 at Melawati Stadium in Shah Alam to promote the campaign.
Some 100 participants, mostly school students and the youth are pedalling away from December 3 from two points, traversing the country in a ride of goodwill and promoting awareness of issues. The riders kicked off their first leg of the tour in Alor Star on 3rd December (Monday). Entrants are from northern and southern parts of the country, and they will reach Kuala Lumpur on December 18, and end at Parliament. The group will then hand over their memorandum of six demands to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The six demands are:
- Legislate Minimum Wage Act
- Abolish draconian laws
- Adequate Housing for the people
- Control the goods prices
- Stop privatization of public services
- Revive Local Municipal council Election
The cyclists would be going through small towns and major cities in every state and they would be handing out leaflets as well as spreading awareness about issues that are affecting the public. A memorandum would be handed to the leaders of the states.
Incidents took place after eight days of the campaign
- 3rd December: Launched at Kedah by the state Representative
- 4th December: L Ruben was arrested by the police at the village of Merbau Pulas, about 20kms from Kulim, Kedah, for distributing leaflets to onlookers. He has been released on police bail.
- 5th December:
- Lorry transporting the bicycles across the Penang Bridge was stopped. The police stopped the lorry carrying 50 bicycles after it had crossed the bridge in Teluk Kumbar and escorted the lorry to the police station. However, the lorry and the bicycles were released at 6pm - three hours after they were seized.
- Meanwhile, another team of cyclists from Skudai in Johor delivered a memorandum to Mentri Besar Abdul Gani Othman today on the eve of their journey to Kuala Lumpur from the southern state.
- 6th December:
- 16 activists about to take part in the cycling campaign were arrested at Suaram's office in Skudai and released after about an hour of questioning. Among those arrested were A Sivarajan, 39, V Pannirselvam, 48, D Letchimi, 37, K Simon, 34, P Mohan, 41, Goh Chee Horng, 24, E Nalini, 26, K Bawani, 23, A Yesudas, 41, Salleh Alian, 46, Ahmad Naqib, 13, and Parti Sosialis Malaysia's S Aruchelvan, 41.
- The embattled Jerit cyclists continued to be besieged with more trouble, this time from unknown arsonists who torched their bicycles in Penanti, Penang early this morning. At least eight bicycles were damaged, three severely, in the fire which was set by the arsonists at about 3am in Yayasan Aman building, located in mainland Penang.
- 7th December:
- 5 were arrested for distributing leaflet in Kluang, Johor. They were released after 20 minutes.
- 9th December: Eight JERIT Activists have been arrested in Taiping and Kuala Kangsar (Northern team). 2 were arrested foe cycling and 6 more arrested for questioning the police that was taking Identity Cards from the cyclists. However 8 of them were released after 8 hours. The arrested are:
1. Ooi Choon Nam (IPD Taiping), 2. Yong Chat Wah (IPD Taiping), 3. Dr. Jayakumar Devaraj (IPD Kuala Kangsar), 4. Rani Rasiah (IPD Kuala Kangsar), 5. Jothi (IPD Kuala Kangsar), 6. Sugumaran (IPD Kuala Kangsar), 7. Karthik (IPD Kuala Kangsar) and 8. S Vasu Rao, 49.
Despite constant police harassment, the cyclists are determined to reach Parliament House as scheduled next Thursday, where both teams will converge to deliver a six-point memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
We would like to urge the Internationally concern citizens to continuously send protest letter to the Inspector General of Police to stop the intimidation against the cyclists and the activists in Malaysia.
[Letterhead of your organization]
Inspector-General of Police
Tan Sri Musa Hassan
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia,
50560 Bukit Aman,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603 2262 6015
Fax: +603 2272 5613
Re: Stop Intimidation by the police against the JERIT Cyclist and the activists
We are writing to you, once again, to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government's ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression, a fundamental right which is guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. We demand the Malaysian government to allow the cyclists to continue cycling and practice their freedom of expression as stated in Federal Constitution.
We are appalled by your government's and the police's latest actions and view this as yet another attempt by your government to intimidate Malaysian citizens from participating in any form of public assembly and exercising their freedom to express their views.
We further demand that your government stops the assault on freedom of expression.
We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. We would like to remind you that freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
Video: JERIT - RAKYAT PENGAYUH PERUBAHAN