“Attempted murder” charge dropped for Hindraf 31; ISA detention continues for Hindraf 5

The AG has dropped the charge of attempted murder against the Hindraf 31. See Malaysiakini report here. Such move is commendable as the charge was simply ridiculous in the first place. This looks like another step of the UMNO government to “call for truce” as the AP puts it. (see below)

What about the Hindraf 5? Charge them or free them, Mr Abdullah. Stop using ISA for detention without trial. Stop assaulting the Federal Constitution you have taken oath to defend, the Part II of which is all on fundamental liberties!

Meanwhile, if Hindraf has not joined the Gabungan Mansuhkan ISA (Coalition to Abolish ISA), it’s time it does so. It must see that while Indians do face certain particular discriminations, many problems confronting Indians affect other Malaysians too.

[Update: The original heading was misleading. Only six of the Hindraf 31 are freed, others still face other charges.]

Msian PM calls for truce with Indians after anti-racism rally
Dec 16, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR – THE prime minister of Malaysia intervened to head off rising anger among the Southeast Asian country’s ethnic Indian population after a rare public rally involving 20,000 protesters led to violent clashes with police.

Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asked the protesters to list their grievances after meeting with community leaders. Mr Abdullah ‘assured us that he will personally address the issues,’ Indian representative A. Rajaretnam said Sunday.

The Federation of Malaysian Indian Organizations will prepare a report for Abdullah within a month. The Indians cite a lack of government funding for Indian schools and the destruction of Hindu temples by authorities in this Muslim-majority nation among their grievances.

Ethnic Indians make up about 8 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people, and most are at the bottom of the country’s social and economic ladder.

Malay Muslims comprise about 60 percent of the population, and control the government. Ethnic Chinese account for about a quarter and dominate business.

After simmering under the surface for decades, the Indians’ anger erupted on Nov. 25 when thousands poured onto the streets in defiance of a government ban. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.

More than 100 people were charged with illegal assembly, and 31 others face trial accused of the attempted murder of a policeman who suffered a non life-threatening wound to the head.

Last Thursday police detained five of the rally’s organizers under a
draconian Internal Security Act that allows indefinite detention without trial.

The five activists were being held at a high-security detention camp in northern Malaysia. Some 2,500 Indians gathered Sunday at a temple nearby for a peaceful protest, said Indradevi Subramaniam, the wife of one of the detainees.

‘We released pigeons and prayed for the ISA detainees to be released fast,’ Indradevi told The Associated Press.

An AP photographer estimated the crowd to be only about 500 people and said police set up blockades to prevent the crowd from marching to the detention facility.

The government has warned more people involved in the rally may be arrested under the act, but the Indian issue has become the biggest political challenge for Abdullah, who took office in 2003 and is widely expected to call general elections next year. — AP
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