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Malaysian court rejects bid to free 5 ethnic Indians held under security law

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 26 @ 03:26:27 CST

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A Malaysian court refused Tuesday to free five ethnic Indian activists detained indefinitely under a harsh security law for organizing a mass rally in November to demand racial equality.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi lawfully ordered the arrest of the five men in Decemberunder the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite imprisonment without trial, said a defense lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo.
«The judge held that he was satisfied that the PM adopted the right procedure,» he told The Associated Press.
The five men, leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force, were accused of threatening national security and stoking racial tensions in the Muslim-majority nation after leading some 20,000 Indians to rally against alleged discrimination. Police crushed the rally with tear gas and water cannons.
The five men had said they were wrongfully detained under the ISA, and accused the government of trying to silence a minority.
Gobind said the five men would appeal the high court's verdict.
«We will exhaust all those avenues (of appeal). The fight continues,» he added.

Indians, who make up 8 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people, complain they don't get the same education, job and business opportunities as Muslim Malays, who account for 60 percent. They also say their Hindu temples have been destroyed unfairly.
The government says it doesn't discriminate against Indians.
Indian anger has become a main issue ahead of March 8 general elections, but because their number is so small, their discontent is unlikely to significantly shake the ruling National Front coalition's hold on power.



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