Thursday, December 13, 2007

Malaysia's ethnic cleansing of marginalised Hindu leaders

Malaysia's Ethnic Cleansing Of Marginalised Hindu Leaders : Detentions made under tough ISA laws

Malaysia detains ethnic Indians under security law
Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:26am EST

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia invoked a tough internal-security law on Thursday to indefinitely detain five ethnic Indian activists from a group that had staged a mass anti-government protest last month.

A police official, who declined to be named, said the five belonged to the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which stunned the government by bringing more than 10,000 ethnic Indians onto the streets to complain of racial discrimination.

One of those detained on Thursday was a Hindraf leader, lawyer P. Uthayakumar, who had already been charged with sedition for alleging that Malaysia practiced "ethnic cleansing" of Indians, which make up about 7 percent of the population.

"They said they were arresting him under the ISA (Internal Security Act), but they didn't say where they were taking him," said Shantha, who answered Uthayakumar's mobile phone after news of the detentions and said she was his secretary.

She gave the names of three other detainees as M. Manoharan, V. Ganapatirau and T. Vasanthakumar. She said she was not aware of a fifth detainee, though the Hindraf Web site gave the fifth name as K. Kengadharan, also a lawyer.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who came to power four years ago promising a more transparent and open government, had said this week he would have no trouble signing a detention order to ensure public security and national stability.

The Hindraf rally was one of two mass protests last month. A separate crowd of around 10,000 people had also turned out on the streets of the capital early last month to demand fairer elections, amid expectations of a snap poll by March next year.

The opposition has accused Abdullah of using public order as an excuse to crack down on peaceful dissent.

"We condemn these arrests," said Lim Guan Eng, head of the opposition Democratic Action Party. "It is a desperate act of last resort and if the government has any evidence, it should charge them in an open court.

"We urge the government to seek national reconciliation, not confrontation with disaffected, marginalized and dispossessed Malaysians."

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