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Jan 22, 2008

HINDRAF 5 go on hunger strike to protest ISA detention

Monday, January 21, 2008

Five detained ethnic Indian activists began a hunger strike Monday (21 Jan) to protest their imprisonment and the alleged discrimination faced by Indians in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

Supporters of the five jailed members of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, joined the hunger strike at two different temples, said one of the detainees' lawyers, N. Surendran.

Hindraf has demanded an end to government policies that marginalize Indians and the release of the five men, who are being held under a law allowing indefinite detention without trial. The men were arrested after organizing a mass rally on 25 Nov.

Among those joining the hunger strike was V. Raidu, a brother of one of the detained activists.

"They do it inside (the detention center). We do it outside," he said. "We are planning to do it for five days _ one day for each member."

Raidu said he and about 10 other supporters were planning to take only water but no food for five days while staying at one of the temples outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

It was not immediately clear how many people started the hunger strike at the other temple.

About 20,000 Indians took part in the November protest that demanded racial equality in this multiethnic country, where Muslim Malays make up 60 percent of the 27 million people.

Ethnic Chinese are the second largest group, comprising 25 percent of the population, while ethnic Indians, most of whom are Hindus, make up 8 percent.

R.S. Thanenthiran, a Hindraf coordinator, said Hindus at a temple in the northern town of Ipoh had also joined the strike. more...


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