[JURIST] The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website] Thursday called for Malaysia to lift the Internal Security Act (ISA) [HRW backgrounder], a preventive detention law that allows the Malaysian government to detain suspects for two years without trial and to renew the detention indefinitely. The FIDH said that the ISA is contrary to fundamental human rights [press release] and is being used to stifle peaceful dissent against the government. FIDH also said that five members of the Hindu Rights Action Force [Wikipedia backgrounder] who were detained [JURIST report] in December will not receive a fair trial as long as the law is in effect. A court heard the activists' appeal against their detention earlier this week and a decision in the case is expected on February 26.
In November 2007, some 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to participate in demonstrations [TIME report] that were sparked by complaints that the predominantly Malay Muslim government economically discriminates against ethnic Indians and other minorities. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi [official website; BBC profile] gave permission for authorities to rely on the ISA to stop the protests [JURIST report]. Twenty-six ethnic Indians were later charged with attempted murder [JURIST report] during a clash with police at a temple compound in connection with the protest. All 26 suspects pleaded not guilty. AP has more.