Free Hindraf detainees or face more demos

Malaysiakini
May 11, 08 2:55pm 
Ethnic Indian activists today warned the government to provide medical aid to one of its leaders and free those detained under tough internal security laws or face more street rallies.hindraf klcc anti isa protest 110508 05About 30 protesters from Indian rights group Hindraf blocked the entrance to a shopping mall at the iconic Petronas twin towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur to demand medical attention for P Uthayakumar, who is diabetic.

Uthayakumar and four other members of the rights group Hindraf have been detained under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA) since December after holding an anti-discrimination rally.

“This gathering is to send a clear message to the government,” Hindraf coordinator S Jayathas told reporters.

hindraf klcc anti isa protest 110508 04“If (the government) deny (treatment to Uthayakumar and do not release the ISA detainees), then we will have a bigger gathering, that is definite,” he said.

Hindraf leaders angered the government last November with a mass rally alleging discrimination in Malaysia, which is dominated by Muslim Malays.

Mounting anger within the Indian community was said to have been a factor in the government’s drubbing in March 8 polls where it lost its two-thirds majority in parliament.

Nationwide protests

Opposition lawmaker Sivarasa Rasiah, who turned up to support the event, said the government should release ISA detainees unless they had proof to charge them in open court.

hindraf klcc anti isa protest 110508 02“As far as I am concerned, one day under ISA detention is too long, one ISA detainee is too many,” he added.

Close to 300 policemen were deployed outside the busy shopping mall to control the protesters, with watercannon vans and riot police waiting nearby.

Hindraf supporters carried posters showing a weak-looking Uthayakumar behind bars as the crowd yelled, “Abolish the ISA” and “Freedom.”

hindraf klcc anti isa protest 110508 01Similar protests were held in six other locations through the country, organisers said.

Rights groups say 70 people, mainly alleged Islamic militants, are being held under the ISA.

Parts of the ISA date back to the British colonial era, when it was used against communist insurgents. It provides for two-year detention periods that can be renewed indefinitely.

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