Thursday, 27 August 2015

#Bersih4 Crosses The Line Between Politics & Religion? #Malaysia #Islam #Hindu #Christian #Buddhist

After two years of fighting between the Indian government and Sikh separatists, Indian army troops fought their way into the Golden Temple compound in Amritsar where the separatists had taken refuge. The Temple was their safe haven. While Indian officials hailed the operation as a success and said it “broke the back” of the Sikh separatist movement, it was clearly an abuse of a place of worship.

If indeed Maria Chin Abdullah did state that participants could take refuge in churches, then what BERSIH is attempting is reminiscent of what has just been described minus the weapons and killings and it is wrong.

BERSIH’s fight has thus far been commendable but to seek refuge in churches is, in my opinion, wrong and an immature, shallow, irrational and a cowardly way of thinking and acting, simply because a place of worship serves only one purpose … to worship.

It also gives the impression that Maria Chin Abdullah and BERSIH have conceded defeat even before the battle has begun. Yes you have no choice but to disperse when the weapons launched against you seem overwhelming but you don’t need to run into the nearest church to seek refuge.

And why only churches? How about mosques, monasteries and temples? Surely it can’t be about removing your footwear!

There could be other insidious reasons that I could mention as to why protesters were informed about taking refuge in churches but that would be mere conjecture. I do not wish to hurl wild accusations.

It would do us all a lot of good if Maria Chin Abdullah clarifies if she actually stated that churches could be used as refugee camps and that the participants will be safe in their premises.

This, unfortunately reminds me of the separatists who thought they were safe in the premise of a Temple but were so very wrong.

The thing is if you choose to take part in a peaceful rally, you have to be ready to be bombarded with tear gas canisters, water cannons laced with chemicals and arrests. It’s not a good experience but it’s a small price to pay for a big and noble cause. It’s part of the package when you hold a peaceful assembly in this country.

Satheesan Raghavan

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