Malaysian Police Arrest 160 Burmese Protesters

Malaysian Police Arrest 160 Burmese Protesters
January 17, 2005
By Associated Press/Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian police arrested 160 Burmese citizens Monday for protesting outside their country’s embassy against the military junta’s alleged discrimination against Christians.

Authorities detained the demonstrators after they chanted anti-junta slogans for about 30 minutes and defied police orders to disperse, said Jennifer Chong, a spokeswoman for Malaysian human rights group, Suaram.

It was not immediately clear how many of the protesters have refugee status in Malaysia, because those without valid immigration documents might be deported, Chong added.

A police spokesman confirmed the arrests, but declined to provide other details.

The protesters could be charged for illegally gathering without authorization, Chong said. Gatherings of more than three people require a permit from the police.

The Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was recently rebuilt after three men armed with firebombs, machetes and an ax set it ablaze last April. Police arrested the attackers and an alleged accomplice, all members of Burma’s Rohingya ethnic Muslim minority.

Predominantly Buddhist Burma, ruled by the military since 1962, also includes followers of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and animism.

The US State Department in its most recent annual International Religious Freedom Report last year said the Burmese government continued to discriminate against members of minority religions and restricted their educational, proselytizing, and church-building activities.

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