LOS ANGELES, CA (February 18, 2008): Several dozens Americans of diverse religious and ethnic origins, including several Hindus of Malaysian descent, gathered in front of the Malaysian Consulate in Los Angeles, California, on February 16, 2008, to protest discriminatory policies of the Malaysian government and the ongoing detention of the leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF). The rally, co-sponsored by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a U.S. based human rights group, was held just one day after another peaceful demonstration was brutally ended with tear gas, chemical laced water cannons and the arrests of 160 Malaysian Hindus, including children, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
?The Malaysian government'spolicies vis a vis Indians is nothing less than ethnic apartheid,? said Samir Kalra, a recent addition to the HAF Executive Council. ?The increasingly brutal repression, rampant discrimination and neglect of the Indian minority, lack of basic human rights ? including that of peaceful assembly ? enshrined under Malaysia'sconstitution and international law, and a creeping Islamisation of an ostensibly secular civil society can no longer be ignored.?
The HAF protest rally co-sponsored in Los Angeles coincided with similar rallies held in New York, London, Dublin, Brussels, Melbourne, Auckland, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Singapore, and Jakarta over the weekend. The ?rose rally? held in Malaysia'scapital, Kuala Lumpur, where demonstrators carried roses, was to symbolise the ethnic Indian struggle for equal rights and for an end to policies of religious apartheid favoring Muslim Malays.
In an effort to suppress the rally, the Malaysian government blocked all roads leading into Kuala Lumpur, and ?racially profiled? ethnic Indians traveling into the city, even pulling them off buses. HAF condemned the repressive tactics employed by Malaysian authorities to break up the protest, including the use of tear gas and physical force today. HAF has received reports from Malaysia that nearly 5,000 Hindus were detained by the police, beyond the approximately two hundred people, including women and children, that were arrested.