Lim Chee Han reflects on the spirited atmosphere and warm response to the Berlin Bersih 3.0 rally.
Venue: Siegessäule (Victory Column), facing the world famous Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)
Date: 28 April 2012
Time: 2.00-4.00pm (duration: Two hours++)
Some 40 participants turned up. A quarter of them were non-Malaysian international Bersih supporters (mostly Germans, one Italian, and one Indonesian). Sad to say, there was not even a single Malay Malaysian joining, and very few students (JPA stern warning works?)
“Permit”? Two police officers came up to me and handed a letter with the confirmation number for this gathering/event, for which I had notified them beforehand. And then they were stationed nearby to watch over our safety until we finished the rally.
What did we do? We distributed yellow flyers in both German and English to the public. We told them about the issue and invited them to sign for support. Everyone was involved in helping to set up the rally; for example, writing on placards. The climax of the event was when we kick-started the sit-in protest by gathering everyone to sit together in front of a huge yellow banner. First, a simple welcome speech by the organiser (me). I then led the protesters with the chanting of slogans. Then we stood up at attention and sang the national anthem ‘Negaraku’. Group photos were taken right after.
What was so special about the gathering in Berlin? We had Malaysian artists (art students: one in Netherlands and the other in Berlin) providing us with 12 graffiti Bersih/anti-Lynas theme posters to decorate the venue. We had a special Penangite cook, feeding the participants with home-made karipap. We had the warmest day so far this year, which made the already-festive event much better.
Many of the participants came from other cities in Germany, such as Hamburg, Hannover, Oldenburg, and Dresden. Also, a few travelling Malaysians happened to find out about our event and decided to join us for the rally.
Overall, I would say that the Berlin Bersih 3.0 solidarity rally was a big success with a decent turnout, spirited atmosphere, and warm response from the public.
Salam Bersih from Deutschland!
Lim Chee Han is a PhD candidate in infection biology at Hannover Medical School.