10 arrested Hindraf protesters face five years in jail

October 25th, 2008 - 3:20 pm ICT by IANS  

HindrafKuala Lumpur, Oct 25 (IANS) Ten Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf) protesters, arrested Thursday for gathering outside Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s house to demand the release of five others, are likely to spend Diwali in jail. They face a maximum of five years’ imprisonment if convicted, media reports said Saturday. An appeal for their release in time for the Hindu festival Tuesday is pending before Magistrate Nurdiana Mohammed Nazir, who Friday remanded them to three days’ police custody.

The 10 include two women. One of them, Mary Lourdes, a diabetes patient who could not get insulin, fainted in the courtroom. She was rushed to hospital, The Daily Star said.

Another male detainee was also admitted to the Putrajaya Hospital Thursday night following medical complications.

Several opposition lawmakers, including ethnic Chinese Fong Po Kuan and Lim Lip Eng, and ethnic Indian S. Manikavasagam were present in the courtroom.

The 10 protesters and a minor girl were detained Thursday for gathering outside the prime minister’s office to submit a memorandum seeking release of five Hindraf leaders before Diwali.

Called Hindraf-5 by the media, M. Manoharan, S. Kengadharan, P. Uthaya Kumar, Vasanth Kumar and Ganabatirau, are serving two year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) for organising a protest rally last November, joined by 10,000 people, that was forcibly dispersed by police.

The 10 Hindraf activists had gone to the prime minister’s office along with K. Santhi, wife of self-exiled London-based leader P. Waithyamurthy, and their child.

Their lawyer N. Surendran said the 10 detainees and a six-year-old girl had gone to the prime minister’s office to hand over a memorandum, seeking the release of all Internal Security Act detainees and invite Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to their Diwali open house.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar Friday said the government was considering prosecuting Santhi on charges of child abuse.

Hindraf has been urging the government to repeal the ISA. The demand is gaining wider momentum.

In a related development, five more opposition MPs submitted a memorandum to the prime minister’s office voicing this demand, taking the total to 85 in a 300 member parliament.

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