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International rights body seeks abolition of Malaysian security law

January 31, 2008 19:48 IST

Five ethnic Indian leaders, held under a draconian security law after they organised a rally demanding better treatment for their community, may not get a fair hearing under the outdated act, a global human rights group said on Thursday.

The five members of the non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Forum, who were detained last December under the Internal Security Act that allows indefinite detention without trial, may not get a fair hearing in this country, the International Federation of Human Rights said.

A verdict into an appeal by defence lawyers, for the release of the five ethnic Indians,  will be issued on February 26 by the Malaysian High Court. Laurie Berg, an Australian lawyer speaking on behalf of the International Federation for Human Rights, claimed that the trial was not fair.

"We find that they have no chance of a fair hearing under this law, and as a result the Internal Security Act is the very definition of arbitrary detention... It's a violation of their fundamental human rights," she told reporters.

She said the outdated law should be abolished and the people detained under the act, including the five ethnic Indians, should be freed.

The five Hindraf members were detained after they staged a massive rally on November 25 last year to protest against the alleged marginalisation of ethnic Indians, who form 7.8 per cent of the 27 million population of the Muslim-majority Malaysia. Over 20,000 people had participated in that rally.

Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail has said the detention of the five ethnic Indians was lawful and necessary for security reasons.

Ethnic Indians are mostly Hindus from Tamil Nadu. Malaysia's 60 per cent population is Muslim and 25 per cent of its people are ethnic Chinese, who are mainly Buddhist and Christians.

Jaishree Balasubramanian in Kuala Lumpur
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