Malaysia’s Hindraf holds rallies, demands leaders’ freedom

May 12th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 12 (IANS) The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has held several peaceful rallies across Malaysia, urging the government to release its jailed leaders and provide medical treatment to one of them who is ailing. Seven rallyists were detained in Penang state Sunday while Hindraf vowed to hold similar rallies every week. Those detained were let off after their statements were recorded, The Star newspaper said Monday.

Many social activists and bloggers from groups other than ethnic Indians reportedly joined the protests and courted arrest.

Bloggger Ong Bung Keong was detained in Penang along with Indian origin Sathis Kumar, while Suaram Penang’s Lau Shu Shi and Teh Chun Hong were among those arrested for obstructing police from carrying out their duty.

Among the protesters was R. Sivarasa, MP from Subang and vice chairman of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

Hindraf, an organisation that claims to speak for Malaysia’s over two million Tamil Hindus, wants the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA), under which five of its leaders are serving two-year terms in jail, scrapped.

Hindraf courted controversy after a rally it staged Nov 25 last year in Kuala Lumpur was forcibly dispersed. Five of its leaders - M. Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34, were put under two-year detention.

Hindraf coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran said demonstrations would be held every Sunday until Uthayakumar, who has heart problems, is referred to hospital for treatment.

In Seremban, about 60 Hindraf supporters gathered near the Terminal 1 bus station along Jln Sg Ujong. Uthayakumar’s wife K. Shanti led the peaceful demonstration and was joined by state legislators M. Ravi and P. Gunasekaren.

Protests took place at Johor Baru, George Town, Butterworth, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur as well.

Most Malaysian Indians, who form an estimated eight percent of the 27 million population, came as workers during the British era. They are fighting for a better deal in jobs and education.

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