‘Hindraf leaders, militants jailed to maintain public order’

April 27th, 2008 - 3:38 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 27 (IANS) Malaysia has justified the continued detention of five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders and Islamic militants, saying it was being done to maintain “public order”. “People should look at what they had done in the first place. We cannot wait for people to incite racial and religious feelings that can lead to problems,” Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper Sunday.

“We have also arrested more Muslim activists from the Jemaah Islamiah and Darul Islamiah,” he told media Saturday.

The king of Malaysia decreed last week that the Hindraf activists serve a two-year jail term under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

The government has for long been resisting appeals from political parties, including those of ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, ethnic groups and human rights bodies, seeking the release of the five Hindraf leaders.

M. Manoharan, one of the detainees, has been denied permission to take oath after being elected to the state assembly in last month’s elections.

Hindraf claims to speak for Malaysia’s over two million Tamil Hindus who form eight percent of the population.

Albar said that everyone had the right to express their grievances to the government “but it must be done responsibly. They must not endanger public order or security when doing so.

“I think the government has a very clean record as actions were taken purely on issues where public order or security of the country could be jeopardised,” he said.

Five Hindraf leaders - Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34 - have been detained for two years under the ISA after they organised a protest rally in November.

The rally of 10,000 was forcibly dispersed. The government held the five leaders, saying it suspected them of having terror links and that their action was meant to disturb the country’s ethnic balance and cause racial hatred.

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