Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ethnic Indians protest in Malaysia - Al Jazeera

Malaysian police clashed with activists demanding greater representation for the country's ethnic Indian minority.

It is the second illegal demonstration in recent years by the Hindu Rights Action Force.

The rally in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, comes days after the government announced early elections.

Teymoor Nabili reports.

160 arrested in Hindraf's 'rose' rally - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Police arrested 160 Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) supporters who took part in its “rose” campaign Dataran Merdeka area Saturday and nine of them, including a woman have been held for further investigations.

They will be brought to court for remand orders to be made against them Sunday.

Of the 160 arrested, 138 were men and 22 were women, including an 11-year-old girl. The girl was later released.

The Hindraf supporters with children holding roses had planned to gather outside the Parliament building and the leaders wanted to hand over a memorandum on improving the lot of the Indian community.

Police had earlier declared the gathering illegal and set up roadblocks and closed the road leading to the Parliament building. The road closures resulted in Hindraf changing their destination to the Suhakam office at Jalan Raja Laut.

Police started to fire tear gas canisters and spray water cannons at 9.20am on Jalan Raja Laut after repeated warnings for the crowd to disperse went unheeded.

Many of the supporters scattered to the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Masjid Jamek areas. Then the police began detaining those who refused to budge.

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Ethnic Indians Rally in Malaysia Demanding Rights, Defy Police - Bloomberg

By Manirajan Ramasamy and Soraya Permatasari

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- About 200 Malaysian ethnic Indians defied a police order and rallied in the capital today demanding equal rights and the release of supporters held without trial as tensions rise three weeks before the country holds elections.

Carrying banners and roses, members of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, gathered near the city hall in Kuala Lumpur at 9 a.m. local time. Fifteen minutes later police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group and arrested dozens of participants.

Hindraf, which is holding its second rally in three months, is demanding an end to alleged racial discrimination in a country where the government gives the ethnic Malay majority preferential treatment for jobs and homes. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has struggled to contain racial tension in his first term, and is targeting a smaller parliamentary majority at the March 8 ballot.

Authorities on Dec. 12 arrested five members of the group under the Internal Security Act, a law that allows for indefinite detention without trial. The order was signed by Abdullah.

``While the yellow roses are a symbol of our cry for justice, we seek the immediate release of Hindraf's five leaders,'' the group said in a statement before today's rally. ``We are going to Parliament as it is a symbol of justice.''

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