|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Malaysia: Release of Hindraf leaders sought
Jaishree Balasubramanian | December 27, 2007 16:28 IST
An ethnic Indian organization in Malaysia today launched a signature campaign to seek the release of five of its leaders detained under a controversial security law and appealed to Premier Abdullah Badawi to either free them or put them on trial.
Hindu Rights Action Force chairman P Wayathu Moorthy called on the government to 'unconditionally release all the five who have been falsely and unjustly incarcerated since December 13 or alternatively charge them in a court of law.'
The leaders of Hindraf were held under the tough Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, after the group organised a massive rally in Kuala Lumpur on November 25 to protest the alleged marginalisation of ethnic Indians in Malaysia.
The government said they were a threat to national security and accused them of having terrorist links. The group has denied the allegations.
Moorthy, who is currently in London [Images], said in a statement sent to his office through email that Hindraf would continue its struggle both locally and internationally to 'highlight the plight of minority Malaysian Indians.'
"It is our strong belief that our Prime Minister will listen. He says he has 'big ears' and we hope his big ears will listen," Hindraf spokesman Thanenthiran Ramankutty told media persons on Thursday.
He said the international signature campaign, which will continue till January 20, 2008, was targeting one million signatories from all races who supported the Hindraf cause.
"It is not only to get the release of the five detained but to abolish ISA," Thanenthiran added.
He felt that prolonging the detention of the five was 'violating human rights.'
He said two of the detainees, including Waytha Moorthy's brother Uttayakumar, had suffered food poisoning on Wednesday and were taken to hospital where they were later discharged. "We hope they don't kill them inside," Thanenthiran said.
A brother of Ganapathi Rao, one of the five detainees, said two out of the five were vegetarians but the prison camp had no vegetarian food.
"They do not give vegetarian food in the prison, it is serious matter. They do not know how to provide vegetarian food," he said.
Uttaya Kumar's wife Indra Devi told media persons that she worried about her husband's health and that she came to know about the food poisoning incident only after reading a local daily on Thursday.
"My husband's spirit is strong, he is a warrior," she said, adding, she was allowed to meet him for 45 minutes once a week.
Vicky Krishna, wife of detainee Vasantkumar, said: "We are a minority group in Malaysia and the prime minister should listen to our voice."
Thanenthiran said Wayatha Moorthy would return to Malaysia if the premier gave the assurance that the Hindraf Chairman would not be detained under ISA.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with 60 per cent of its 27 million people being Malay Muslims, 25 per cent Chinese and 7.8 per cent ethnic Indians, mostly Hindus from Tamil Nadu.