Bersih Germany organized Bersih 5 gatherings in its five cities simultaneously on 19.11.2016 at 2 pm. Malaysians and individuals interested in the Bersih cause gathered in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart to show their solidarity with Bersih 5 gathering in Malaysia.
Our Bersih 5 journey started earlier as Col ogne decided to twin with Penang and we had our representative joining the activities in Penang before Bersih 5 gathering. In Penang, we showed our support by welcoming the Bersih convoy in Penang. We also took part in a flash mob and joined talks arranged by Penang Bersih. We also managed to join the Bersih exhibition held in Penang. Overall the twinning idea gave us an opportunity to see and experience how dedicated and fearless the Bersih movement in Penang is. We are planning to keep this twinning program alive by sharing and exchanging ideas with our twinning city even after Bersih 5.
Then the preparation for Bersih 5 was on a roll. We started with Cologne and Stuttgart, and after a few weeks, Munich and Berlin were also on the map. Our final city, Hamburg came onboard just a few weeks before the date. We created Facebook events and shared the events extensively. All the gatherings were done legally with a police permit. We compiled a ‘demo kit’ consisting materials for Bersih 5 and sent them out to the respective city organisers. We also sent out media invitations to local/international media and NGOs. We had all material translated into German to get the message across to the local crowd.
Then 19.11.2016 came, and we all went out to walk our talk. At 1030am on the day, our Facebook page was blocked. This meant all our events were deleted and no one had access to the page. We tried our best to use our private Facebook accounts to assure everyone that the gatherings are taking place.
It was a cold and unfriendly day, but the passion brought us together and kept us warm. All of the gatherings were held in prominent places of the respective cities. This helped us to reach out to the German public too.
The gatherings started with Negaraku. Then we read out a letter from Global Bersih. The letter was also a plea to the Malaysians to be aware of their voting rights and registration processes. We also presented the ‘Overseas Voting Reform Proposal’ petition. Then we gathered together and read out Bersih 5 demands in English, Malay, and German. After that, we contributed some flyers and information materials to the interested public.
We also had a live interview on pocketimes.com.my on our motivation for the Bersih 5 gathering in Germany. The Cologne gathering was also presented on the local radio.
Even though the number of participants was lower than expected, we are jubilant that Germany is on the Bersih 5 map. The participants turned out with beautiful banners and posters. All of us were motivated to brave the cold by our hope for change. There were some latent frustrations on the achievements of Bersih so far. After some positive exchange on how far we have come, we came to a conclusion that there is only one way to go, forward!
We shared stories on why we are gathering on that day, our personal motivations merging and empowering us to be proactive. Of course, the discussions lingers around the same usual suspects – Najib’s resignation, Maria Chin’s arrest, Mahathir’s support for Bersih and of course the future of Bersih.
Some participants also shared their fear of repercussions for joining Bersih gathering overseas. We assured them that no one is alone in this cause, so there is always help available
Overall, Bersih 5 provided a platform for Malaysians by birth, by choice and by heart in Germany, to gather and show their support for a clean and fair election in Malaysia. Bersih Germany also had a chance to gather support in all ways for its futures plans. We are also very satisfied that we managed to advocate the importance of registering and voting to make a change.
Bersih Germany is proud to be a part of Bersih 5, and we will continue to show our support in any way we can. Hidup Bersih!