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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

> Mammoth Anti-ISA rally in March

Anti-ISA activists seek to step up the pressure on the government to repeal the draconian Internal Security Act with a planned mammoth protest in March.

The mass rally, jointly organised by the Anti-ISA Movement (GMI) - a coalition of non-governmental organisations - and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, is part of an anti-ISA campaign against the tough security law and to free the remaining 46 still under detention.

As a prelude to the March mammoth rally, organisers will tonight hold a gathering at the Bandar Baru Bangi stadium.

"Tonight’s event is to create more public awareness and to work towards abolishing the Act," said one of the organisers, PAS Youth deputy chief Nasrudin Hasan.

He expects up to 100,000 people to attend the March event, which he said would be similar to the massive Bersih rally last year in calling for free and fair elections.

Organisers consider tonight's rally as a minor victory given that a similar gathering last month was thwarted by the authorities resulting in nine being arrested.

On Nov 23, the police dispersed an anti-ISA crowd at the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council field in Pandan Indah and among those arrested was PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub.

Anwar, Hadi to speak

Federal Territory PAS Youth chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said the organisers have managed to secure a police permit for tonight's event.

"Police gave a permit for the gathering with the condition that the gathering be held in the stadium," said Kamaruzaman.

The two-hour event is scheduled to kick off at 9pm.

Kamaruzaman, who is also the location coordinator for the event, said the application for the event was initially rejected by the authorities.

However following an appeal, the police gave the green light to the rally last week.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders including PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang are expected to address the crowd.

An estimated 46 people are still being incarcerated under the ISA, which allows detention without trial, at the Kamunting camp in Taiping. Four of them had been held for six years.

Among those detained are five Hindu Action Front leaders (Hindraf) and 29 alleged terrorists as well as 10 alleged document forgers. 

Earlier this month, 17 ISA detainees were released including seven former Jemaah Islamiah members and three Darul Islam members.

A representative from an ISA detainee's family, Norlaila Othman, as well as student leaders are also expected to speak at the gathering - Malaysiakini.