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Malaysia Frees 13 ISA Detainees

Malaysia Frees 13 ISA Detainees

 KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – – Malaysia said on Saturday it has freed 13 people held under its tough internal security laws, including three ethnic Indian activists detained since organising anti-government protests in 2007.

 

“All of them have been released today,” police chief Musa Hassan told AFP.

He said five Filipinos and two Indonesians released will be sent back to their home countries. The remaining six Malaysians were freed on certain conditions on which the police chief declined to comment.

“We will pass the foreign detainees to the immigration to be deported to their home country,” Musa said.

The release of the Indians, members of the banned ethnic Indian rights group Hindraf, removes a thorn in the side of new Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is trying to promote his reform credentials.

They and the other 10 were held under the Internal Security Act (ISA), a relic of the British colonial era which allows for indefinite detention without trial, and which human rights groups have campaigned to have abolished.

The government said on Friday that it had decided to release the 13 because “they no longer need to be held under ISA”.

One of the Hindraf members, M. Manoharan, was elected from his jail cell to a seat in the parliament of Selangor state in general elections last year that saw a sharp swing to the opposition.

Manoharan’s wife, S. Pusphaneela, said the release of her husband would enable the state lawmaker to serve the people and she is looking forward to his return.

“He is on the way home now and my three children are waiting anxiously for their father,” she told AFP.

Rights groups welcomed the release of the 13 but urged the government to free the remaining 14 people, mainly suspected Islamic militants, held under the ISA or charge them in court.

“We always believe that these detainees who were never proven guilty in any court of law should not have been detained in the first place,” Abolish ISA Movement coordinator E. Nalini said.

Najib freed another batch of 13 detainees, including two Hindraf leaders, soon after being sworn in last month and has denied it was a bid to win back support for the ruling coalition.

The five Hindraf leaders were taken into custody after enraging the government in November 2007 by mounting a mass rally alleging discrimination against minority ethnic Indians.

Ethnic Indians make up less than eight percent of the 27 million population of the mainly Muslim-Malay country, but say they fare badly in terms of education, wealth and employment opportunities.

 source : http://ph.news.yahoo.com/afp/20090509/tap-malaysia-politics-isa-india-0193655.html

May 11, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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