Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Photos from the "Black Metal" Press Conference

(Sorry, everyone, this came out a bit late. Experienced some problems with loading up the photos. Anyway, here's a little report on the Black Metal PC.)

About 300+ people including musicians, politicians, activists and journalists turned up to the press conference at Paul's Place on Monday afternoon to hear the indie music community's response to the police raid earlier on New Year's Eve at 10:30pm at the same venue. And the response is: the police carried out the raid unlawfully and the media coverage (especially the local Malay language tabloids) of the whole incident was heavily biased and unethical.

There was a panel of eight people made up of Azmyl Yunor (musician, lecturer) , Amir Hamzah (lawyer), Rafil Elyas (musician, engineer), Julian Mokhtar (musician), Paul Milott (musician, owner of Paul's Place), Jaclyn SM Kee (activist), and two musician guys whose names I didn't quite catch ("Sorry!"-JK), discussing why the raid was unjustified and how it was a senseless and hostile attack on the peace-loving indie music community in KL.

Among the police actions that came under criticism was how they didn't have a warrant or a valid reason to raid Paul's Place and arrest 380 young people who were there to enjoy a "punk" concert (not a "black metal" concert as was claimed by the police and the media).

The panel said the raid was tantamount to a gross violation of basic human rights, that the police's cited reason of "suspicion of black metal activities" was not acceptable for their dramatic arrests. The media too came under fire for what the discussion panel members called "irresponsible journalism" that grossly violated the journalistic code of ethics of fair reporting of the incident.

The panel also explained that dramatic symbolism seen on the posters and merchandise available at Paul's Place that night was mere fashion and not to be taken too literally. Hip hop followers wear lots of bling, so punk fans like to wear black T-shirts with rather gory prints. But that doesn't mean the kids are Satan worshippers or drinkers of darah kambing.

After the press conference, a group of about 30 t0 40 musicians and supporters went to the Brickfields Police Station to enquire about the condition of the four who were by then still in police custody. We found out that three of them had been charged under the printing act, and one other under the entertainment act.

After waiting almost an hour, we found out that three out of the four were in the process of being released, while the last one (we presume him to be David, Paul's Place staff) had to wait for someone (the OCPD was not there, for some reason) to process his case. After finding this out, much of the crowd dispersed.

While things are still uncertain about the fate of Paul's Place--now that its image has been tarnished in the eyes of the wider public with this sham of a raid--and its equipment confiscated--it was very heartening to see members of the indie music community there supporting the venue and their right to musical expression without police harassment and media misrepresentation.

For more info on this strange case, go to Centre for Independent Journalism's site.

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