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21 held in Malaysian police crackdown

world Updated: Dec 09, 2007 20:16 IST

A fortnight after crushing a massive rally by ethnic Indians, Malaysian police on Sunday arrested nine people, including 12 opposition leaders as it continued its crackdown on anti-government protesters who defied a ban to take out a rally in Kuala Lumpur.

About 50 people, including lawyers and activists, wearing surgical masks, staged a "Peace Walk" past Kuala Lumpur's landmark Independence Square, to mark World Human Rights Day on Monday but were stopped by over 300 policemen.

Police detained nine people including five lawyers as protesters, who held banners that read "freedom of assembly" and "Government that abuses human rights is terrorist", marched to the Bar Council building.

The Bar Council, which represent some 12,000 lawyers, had earlier called off a planned march after it was denied permission by the police.

Police also arrested 12 members of an opposition coalition for taking part in a banned rally held on November 10 to demand electoral reforms.

It was followed by a November 25 rally by thousands of ethnic Indians against alleged marginalisation. Thirty-one people were charged with attempted murder for allegedly causing injury to a policeman during the protest.

Bar Council President Ambiga Sreenevasan told reporters that one of the lawyers was arrested after he tried to stop police from tearing down banners marking the International Human Rights Day.