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Risking everything, Malaysians text, tweet as protests turn violent

The Internet is bringing Bersih pro-reform protests to computer screens, iPads and smartphones worldwide -- as young activists risk their lives, using the social media to demand democracy.

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“I was moved by the presence of mixed races that had united for the cause,” he told Beliefnet. “I was even more surprised to see thousands of Chinese Malaysians present there that afternoon. They were previously not interested in these things. I believe that they have finally come to realize how the government systematically oppressed their rights over the years and cheated on them. But Bersih has succeeded in breaking through those barriers and reuniting the races in Malaysia as ‘one family’ or Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

“Around 1:45 pm, we started to march together with the thousands of peaceful protesters towards Dataran Square.”

In the streets -- photo posted to K. Sudhagaran Stanley's Facebook page

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Friends and family followed Stanley as he texted worldwide live reports of what was unfolding. The day before, he had passed along rumors that the police would be wielding a new anti-protest tool, a “Long Range Acoustic Device” or LRAD, developed to create pain-inducing tones. “Bring earplugs for the rally,” had texted Stanley. “Pass the news.”

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And now as thousands gathered, “everything has started ‘way before schedule,” he texted from within the crowd. “Thousands are on the streets now.”

A fellow marcher reported from Stanley’s hometown: ”‎20,000 people already at the Esplanade in Penang. The people of Penang must show solidarity with the people of Kuala Lumpur. We are dealing with something bigger than all of us combined.”

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Demonstrators texted back and forth comparisons to Bastille Day — when the French monarchy began to splinter. ”Like the French on July 14, 1789,” tweeted one participant, ”we Malaysians are calling for liberty, equality and fraternity. The people must rise up and join hands with all their Malaysian brothers across the whole of Malaysia and all over the world for free and fair elections.

“We also want to rid this country of greed and corruption, of greed and graft.”

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
Related Topics: Malaysia, Facebook, Twitter

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