An ethnic Indian activist was taken to a hospital on Thursday during a hunger strike protesting his detention for having organised a rally demanding Indian minority rights in Malaysia, his wife and a hospital official said.
P Uthayakumar, leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, was given an intravenous solution in a hospital in northern Perak state, said his wife, Indra Devi Subramanian.
Indra said she called the detention center from Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to check on her husband, who had not eaten since Monday morning. She said she was told he was taken to a hospital for dehydration. “He’s a diabetic. That’s why I’m worried,” she said. A hospital official, who declined to be named citing policy, confirmed that Uthayakumar had been admitted but could not give more details.
Uthayakumar, 47, and four others from Hindraf were arrested in December under a security law that allows for indefinite detention without trial, shortly after they organised a rally in which about 20,000 Indians protested alleged discrimination in the majority Muslim Malay country.
Hindraf supporters around the country also have been holding a hunger strike since Monday to seek the release of the five leaders.
Ethnic Indians, most of who are Hindus, comprise eight per cent of Malaysia’s 27 million people, while Muslim Malays account for 60 per cent. Ethnic Chinese make up 25 per cent.
Ethnic Indians, who first came to Malaysia as indentured laborers under British colonialists, complain that many have remained poor because they are denied equal access to education, jobs and business opportunities under the Muslim Malay-dominated government.
They also say authorities have destroyed their Hindu temples. The government has denied the allegations and arrested the activists, accusing them of seeking to stroke racial tensions in the multiethnic society.