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Malaysia: 5 ethnic Indians detained under ISA for protests
Jaishree Balasubramanian in Kuala Lumpur | December 13, 2007 16:35 IST
Five leaders of a Hindu rights group spearheading anti-government protests against the alleged marginalisation of ethnic Indians in Malaysia were detained on Thursday under a controversial security law which allows indefinite detention without trial.
The five key officials of the non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Force, which had organised a massive street demonstration last month attended by at least 20,000 ethnic Indians, "were told that they are being detained under the Internal Security Act," said lawyer N Surendran.
ISA is usually used by the government to detain suspects who could be regarded a threat to national security.
The five arrested Hindraf members are P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan, V Ganabatirau and T Vasanthakumar.
They were picked up at various locations in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Seremban.
The detention order was signed by Premier Abdullah Badawi in his capacity as the internal security minister.
Uthayakumar and two others namely Ganabatirau and P Waythamoorthy were charged under the Sedition Act on November 23 in Klang for allegedly making speeches to incite hatred at a gathering on November 16.
Waythamoorthy is currently overseas.
Under the ISA, the police can detain any individual for up to 60 days without a warrant, trial and access to legal counsel if he was suspected to have "acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof."
After 60 days, the minister of home affairs can extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely, the Star newspaper's online edition said.