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More arrests in Malaysia over ‘LTTE links’ as security forces deny allegations of racism

Malaysia police make arrests earlier this week  (Photo via @MelGohCNA)

Malaysian security forces arrested five more men today, including two Democratic Action Party (DAP) assemblyman, claiming that they were linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which remains a proscribed organisation in the country.

State DAP chairman Tey Kok Kiew, said the two arrested assemblymen included the executive of a state-owned company and a municipal councillor. “I am made to understand that they were detained at their homes in Durian Tunggal, Alor Gajah, around 10am,” he told the Malay daily. DAP national vice-chairman, M Kula Segaran, visited the families of the men, saying “they are shaken over the incident”.

The arrests come after a group of 16 Pakatan Harapan (PH) elected officials including Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Professor P. Ramasamy and Deputy Rural Development Minister R. Sivarasa, called for all the arrested men to be released without charge.

A joint press release from the group it was “natural” for Tamils in Malaysia to express sympathy for Eelam Tamils. 

“During the height of the civil war in Sri Lanka, Tamils in Malaysia and elsewhere had natural sympathy for the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka. The Tamil cause was bigger than the armed struggle waged by the LTTE,” said the press release.

“Just like the Muslims in Malaysia who were sympathetic to the cause of Palestinians, Rohingyas and others, Tamils had a natural ethnic and emotional ties with their kind in Sri Lanka,” they said.

“We urge the government to immediately release those arrested without any condition. These arrests and detention is nothing but a gross travesty of justice. Such arrests and detention cannot be justified under the new PH government,” they said.

Veteran DAP MP also called for their release, saying “it is important that with the change of government on May 9, 2018, police mentality and strategy with regard to legitimate dissent and what constitutes a threat to national security must accordingly undergo the necessary changes”.

Meanwhile, Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division (E8) principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay tried to defend the security forces against allegations of racism driving the arrests.

“I do not see this as a racist act,” he claimed. "Why are certain people labelling us as racists now when we have steadily been taking action against all individuals linked to terrorist activities from all races and religions.”

He went on to claim at least 25 “LTTE members” had been arrested in recent years and dismissed the comparison between the Tamil Eelam and Palestinian liberation struggles.

“This is not a matter of the Tamil rights struggle in Sri Lanka and so on,” he claimed. “It is a struggle for promoting the terrorist group.”