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Jan 10, 2008

Hindraf 5 to go on hunger strike


The five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) will go on a hunger strike beginning Jan 20. P Uthayakumar, R Kenghadharan, M Manoharan, V Ganabathirau and T Vasanthakumar are currently being held at the Kamunting detention centre in Perak. Their lawyer M Kulasegaran said today the hunger strike is to protest against their unlawful detention without trial. The strike, which will last for five days, will commence at 7.30am on Jan 20 and end at 7.00pm on Jan 25.

According to Kulasegaran, the five are also urging Malaysians to join them in the protest fast. “They strongly urged Malaysians especially the Indian community to join them in the fast to protest the unlawful detention without just cause and fair trial which is a serious violation of fundamental human liberties. “The five leaders informed me that they totally reject the reasons given to detain them as simplistic, frivolous and vexatious,” he said.

‘Not too bad’ On their condition, Kulasegaran said the five are doing ‘not too bad’ but Kenghadharan - who is a vegetarian - is having trouble with the food being provided. This is not the first hunger strike held over their arbitrary arrest. Late last year, Singaporean artist Seelan Palay, 23, consumed only water for five days - one day for each detained member - outside the Malaysian High Commission.

The Hindraf leaders gained fame when they organised a protest that saw 30,000 people hit the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 last year.

This was followed by the movement’s leaders and supporters being charged for a slew of offences including sedition, causing mischief and attending an illegal assembly. On Dec 13 last year, the five leaders were arrested under the ISA - a move anticipated by many after the government linked the movement to overseas terrorist groups. Meanwhile, the alleged terrorism charges against the five will be heard by the ISA advisory board on Jan 14 at the detention centre. “The advisory board will conduct a hearing on the allegation (of terrorism activities) against them. It’s a closed door hearing but the five will be represented by their lawyers,” Kulasegaran added.


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