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Sunday, February 27, 2011

More than 300 Hindraf arrests: Pakatan flays Najib, demands release


Pakatan Rakyat leaders condemned Prime Minister Najib Razak for using excessive force against an anti-racism rally, saying the number of arrests - so far exceeding 300 protesters -was a sign of paranoia unbecoming of a democratic leader who just days ago had chided Libya’s Gadaffi for using violence on a people’s uprising.

“Three days ago, PM Najib urged Libya not to use violence on protesters. Today Home Minister Hishamuddin and the Inspector General of Police are using violence on Indians at the Hindraf rally,” PKR MP for Subang Sivarasa Rasiah said on Twitter.

"Stop the crackdown, respect freedom of assembly. Release now the 300 plus arrested so far."

Pakatan leaders also demanded that Najib released all detainnees immediately.

The PM - whose credibility has been sliding - was also reminded that under the federal constitution, Malaysians had the right to peaceful assembly.

“Police arrested hundreds attending Hindraf demonstration against Interlok and racism. BN has not learnt from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain,” PKR MP for Selayang William Leong said on Twitter.

"All those who were arrested were Indians. The police applied racial profiling," PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua toldMalaysia Chronicle.

A new world with borderless communication

Social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter have worked overtime since Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy messaged out that his brother Uthayakumar – the head of Human Rights Party – was arrested at 8.00 am ahead of the planned rally.

The police had banned the protest despite appeals from various quarters to allow the Indian community the space to express themselves.

Dozens of protesters mainly Indian who had gathered to protest the racism practised by Najib’s ruling Umno party were detained. By 11am, more than 300 people had been arrested.

Waythamoorthy – who fled Malaysia for London after helping organize a huge rally in November 2007 – is co-ordinating the information flow through his Facebook page.

According to him, all those arrested will go on hunger strike until they released. He has also order about 1,000 supporters to march towards the police station in Pudu, where Uthayakumar is currently being held.

“You have enough police officers to lock down the city, but not for daily patrols in housing areas,” said PKR assemblywoman for Bukit Lanjan Elizabeth Wong.

Apartheid in Malaysia

HRP members had on Sunday planned to march from Jalan Sultan Ismail to the KL City Centre, where they wanted to lodge a police report at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters against Umno.

They blame the Malay nationalist party for refusing to withdraw from the schools' syllabus a book called Interlok, where the Malay author had referred to Indians as "pariah".

HRP co-ordinator S Jayathas had said his party hoped to attract “two or three thousand” supporters to protest the “institutionalised racism in Malaysia for the past 56 years”.

“The Indians are systematically denied minority righeets. Malaysia is the most racist country in the world. Apartheid has already ended in South Africa but we still have it in Malaysia. We're not asking for special rights but we just want equal opportunity,” said Jayathas.

Yet what probably caused the police to press the panic button was the message below that was widely circulated on the Internet.

"I have come to understand that tomorrow about 500 Hindraf members have volunteered to get arrested. Intercepted Special Branch communiques says their own intelligence expect a crowd of 50,000. This figure seems high though. The UN and 27 embassies have confirmed that they will be sending independent observers. Anyways 27/2/2011 is going to go down as another milestone," a commentator named Temenggong wrote on the official page of Uthaya's brother P Waythamoorthy. - Malaysia Chronicle

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