Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some Roses campaign detainees released in Malaysia

Two Hindraf leaders freed

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Malaysian police on Sunday released two mainstream opposition politicians, both associated with the Hindu Rights Action Force, but continued to detain eight Hindraf activists for their presence in an “illegal assembly” on Saturday.

The action followed the police-aborted protest “walk” that Hindraf organised at several places in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, demanding justice for the ethnic Indian minority in Malaysia through a campaign of offering roses to the authorities as a “goodwill” gesture.

Hindraf Events Coordinator Kannan Ramasamy told The Hindu that the opposition leaders released “unconditionally” after several hours of detention were Manickavasagam and Jayathas of the multiracial Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Mr. Manickavasagam is a member of the central committee of PKR, associated with the once-imprisoned former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim.

Two of Hindraf’s top leaders – V. Ganapati Rao (whose name is also spelt as Ganabathirau) and M. Manoharan, both in detention without trial – are activists of the Democratic Action Party, another multiracial opposition outfit in Malaysia.

Mr. Kannan said Hindraf’s “spiritual adviser” Ramaji and two others were also released “unconditionally” after being held in connection with Saturday’s aborted “walk.” Nine others, including two women, were detained overnight and produced in court in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. Of them, one woman was released, he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Hindraf’s “illegal” campaign “disrupts the election process” now underway for the March 8 snap poll.

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