Malaysia released 13 detainees on 9 May 2009 - 3 Malaysian Indian activists and 10 Southeast Asian terror suspects.
The move allows Malaysia to say it no longer has any political prisoners held under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows imprisonment without trial.
The 3 ethnic Indian activists, Mr P. Uthayakumar, Mr M. Manoharan and Mr K. Vasantha Kumar, are the leaders of a banned ethnic Indian protest group, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and were arrested in 2007 after organising mass protests. Hindraf advocates an end to racial discrimination, and was banned after street demonstrations in November of 2007.
When asked whether detention has changed him, Uthayakumar told the Malaysian Insider online news: 'Yes, it has only made me more determined and more resolved to continue fighting for the oppressed and marginalised Indians”.
The release of the three Hindraf leaders comes after two other leaders - V. Ganabatirau and R. Kengadharan - were freed April 4, the day Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak took office.
Razak had said he was doing this "in a spirit of reconciliation".
The release of what the media called the "Hindraf 5" should end the ordeal of their families who made numerous failed bids to seek court rulings, appealed to human rights bodies and carried out meetings and protests.
The government disregarded these pleas, alleging that the Hindraf had "terror links", especially with the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka.
Political analysts said the releases were an attempt to wrest the headlines away from the latest tussle for control of Malaysia's second largest state, Perak, where the government ousted the opposition-run administration.
Other non-political prisoners such as drugs smugglers are still held under the ISA.
AFP, Malaysia to release ethnic Indian activists, 8 May 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iXr8UDArYZ0F4YMfZmqTp...
Reuters - India, Malaysia to release prisoners held without trial , 8 May 2009, http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-39493520090508
The Straits Times, M'sia frees 13 detainees , 10 May 2009, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/SE%2BAsia/Story/STIStory_374...
The Times of India, Malaysia to release 3 jailed Hindraf activists, 9 May 2009, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Indians-Abroad/Malaysia-to-release-3-...