Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hindraf leaders begin fast

Hindraf leaders begin fast

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on Sunday began a week-long hunger strike in protest against their detention without trial under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA), according to Hindraf convener Thanenthiran.

Mr. Thanenthiran said over the telephone from Malaysia that the hunger strike was meant to focus attention on the alleged “unconstitutionality” of the detentions without charges and trial.

There was no independent confirmation of the commencement of the hunger strike.

The five – P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganapathi Rao, M. Manoharan, R. Kengadharan, and T. Vasanthakumar – were arrested under the ISA on December 13 last. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in his additional capacity as Internal Security Minister, had ordered their detention for two years.

No charges were formally laid against them, in line with the relevant provisions of the ISA. However, the government had, prior to their detention, accused them of fanning racial hatred and posing a “national security threat.”

The Hindraf has been leading a campaign against alleged marginalisation of Malaysia’s ethnic Indian minority.

With the Hindraf attacking the Malaysian Indian Congress for “neglecting” the interest of ethnic Indians, the MIC on Sunday mobilised its supporters at a public meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

MIC President Samy Vellu called upon Malaysian Indians to rally behind the Prime Minister.

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