Wednesday, December 19, 2007

World leaders should take note of authoritarian arrests of Malay Hindu activists -- HAF, Washington

Arrests of Malay Hindu activists decried

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 Activists at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) raised the alarm Friday over what they described as the continued heavy-handed and authoritarian actions of the Malaysian government in dealing with the leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF). According to newspaper reports, police arrested five leaders of HINDRAF Dec. 13 under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows detention without trial, HAF reported in a press release Friday.

Police Chief Musa Hassan claimed the arrests were in response to "activities that threatened national security." The five were jailed in the Kamunting detention center in Taiping, Perak, where they can be detained for two years, without undergoing the usual 60-day investigation period.

"This is unconscionable action to silence and demonize Malaysian Hindus who have been struggling to have their voices heard and their grievances addressed," said Ishani Chowdhury, Director of Public Policy, HAF. "The Malaysian authorities are using a sledge-hammer to squash the peaceful protests and the non-violent movement of HINDRAF, and it is incumbent upon world leaders to take note of the extremely authoritarian actions of the Malaysian Government."

The HAF highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation for Hindus in Malaysia for the first time this year in its annual human rights report. Islamization of the previously secular Malaysian government and growing religious intolerance in the country is largely responsible for the crisis according to many observers.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International.

This news arrived on: 12/18/2007

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