anti isa rally in penang – 4 arrested

i first learned of this from anil netto’s blog. (as at 3.15pm). so i went to malaysiakini to check if the news is there but there wasn’t any. it was only about 2 hours later that i see the news appearing in malaysiakini – 4 arrested, it stated. wow… anil’s news is faster than Malaysiakini. 🙂

one of those arrested was a friend of mine, penang’s well-known actvist, bk ong. the other one was shu shi, whom i had met couple of times before and just start to get to know her. she is from suaram. i just met both of them last night at the public service media forum! (which i’m going to blog about later). in fact, i was telling them that i wanted to participate in the anti isa rally but had other plans. hmm… just imagine the ‘adventure’ i’ll be drawn in if i did participate.

the other 2 arrested were k. satish kumah, a blogger and teh chun hong, also from suaram.

here is the report from malaysiakini:

Anti-ISA rally: 4 arrested in Penang
Athi Veeranggan & Rachel Chan Suet Kay
May 11, 08 4:15pm

Four persons were detained, including a blogger and a woman activist, during a 45-minute anti-ISA demonstration in George Town, Penang this morning.

Of the four, social activist BK Ong (photo) and blogger K Satish Kumar were detained in Gurney Plaza after taking part in the  demonstration held at Gurney Drive at about 11.10am.
The remaining two – Lau Shu Shi and Teh Chun Hong, both from Suaram, were detained after they lodged police reports at the city police headquarters in Jalan Patani, George Town at 2.45pm.

George Town police chief ACP Azam Abd Hamid said Ong and Satish Kumar were picked up because they were `active’ during the demonstration held by nearly 150 people near the Gurney Drive roundabout at 10am.

The gathering, part of a nationwide protest, was to urge the government to release all ISA detainees as well as grant Hindraf legal adviser P Uthayakumar proper medical treatment.

Uthayakumar, who was detained under the ISA on Dec 13 last year along with four other Hindraf leaders, is said to be suffering from heart complaints.

His family said that as a result of his detention, he is riddled with a blood sugar level of 13.5, disrupted eyesight, chest pains, and possibly damaged heart muscles.  His supporters want the government to refer him to the National Heart Institute (IJN) for further treatment.

The demonstration in Penang was jointly organised by the Penang group of Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), Suaram, Penang Watch, Tanjung Workers Service Centre, Repeal ISA Coailition (GMI).

Incident-free gathering in KL

A similar gathering was also held in Kuala Lumpur this morning, with about 30 people – including Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah – assembling at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre shopping mall. This was a revisit by Hindraf to the location after its successful Nov 25 rally last year which attracted about 30,000 people.

It was as a result of that massive rally that the government started its crackdown on Hindraf, culminating in the detention of five leaders in Kamunting detention camp. Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy is presently in self-imposed exile in London.

R Kannan, a Hindraf coordinator who was overseeing the gathering in Kuala Lumpur, said that the government has been silent on the numerous appeals lodged to seek immediate medical treatment for Uthayakumar (photo).

“Even criminals are given medical treatment, so why not our Uthayakumar? He has done so much for the people, we cannot let this happen,” said Kannan.

“Uthayakumar has been having diabetes since early on. The medication he has received is not sufficient,” chipped in MP Sivarasa who joined in the gathering to show support.

“That is the first issue. The second issue is, we demand that all ISA detainees be released. We should emulate our neighbours Thailand and Indonesia for fair trials,” he added.

It is also learnt that Uthayakumar’s mother would be handing in a memorandum to the prime minister tomorrow, calling for the release of all ISA detainees.

“We hope they will consider releasing the detainees this time,” added Kannan.

No arrests were reported in KL although there was a strong police presence. Similar gatherings were also held in Ipoh and Seremban today.

Arrested for not dispersing

In Penang, OCPD Azam said Ong and Satish were picked up to question on their role in the demonstration.

A police team from the Pulau Tikus police station arrived at the demonstration scene at 11.10 am and told the demonstrators to abandon the rally and disperse from the area.

However, Ong and Satish were arrested in Gurney Plaza, about 500m away, after they had left the place.

Azam claimed the duo failed to adhere to police instruction to abandon the `illegal’ rally and leave the area.

However, a Hindraf activist from Penang, K Vasantha, 26, said the demonstrators were not told to disperse immediately.

"We were given 45 minutes and we complied to it. I don’t understand why our friends were arrested," she said.

The Suaram duo however were detained after Lau had lodged a police report against the police harassment at the rally.

Lau had just came out from the Jalan Patani police station premise when an unidentified police officer raised his voice against her. When Lau told the officer to lower his voice and show respect to her, a shouting match ensued between them. She was then taken under the police custody for questioning.

Teh was also detained for recording the Lau incident. His video camera was also seized.

Second rally in Penang

No untoward incidents were reported, however at another Hindraf demonstration in Megamall Pinang in Prai.

Led by Makkal Sakti coordinator RS Thanenthiran (photo), about 300 people took part in the rally.

The rally lasted for about 40 minutes before the demonstrators dispersed peacefully in the present of about 100 riot police personnel armed with batons and helmets.

At both rallies in Penang, protesters display banners rallying cry for the release of the detained five Hindraf leaders and urging the government to repeal the tough Internal Security Act.

Besides Uthayakumar, the other four Hindraf leaders detained are M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan, V Ganabatirau and T Vasantha Kumar.

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