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Malaysia police detain lawyers in raids following anti-government protests

[JURIST] Malaysian police detained 21 lawyers, activists and opposition figures Sunday after nationwide raids in response to continuing demonstrations against the country's government. The police arrested 12 members of an opposition coalition for participating in a November 10 rally for electoral reforms [JURIST report]. The rally drew about 30,000 people and was part of a widening protest movement against the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi [official website; BBC profile], who will soon be up for reelection. Officials detained eight other people, including four lawyers, earlier Sunday for participating in a small human-rights march, violating a ban on assembly and an order to disperse. The remaining detainee, a lawyer, was arrested [Malaysian Bar report] after trying to stop officials from removing posters marking International Human Rights Day. Badawi maintains that anti-government protests and demonstrations must stop because they benefit neither the government nor the Malaysian people. Nevertheless, Malaysian opposition parties plan to hold another protest Tuesday outside parliament, where protesters will submit a memorandum demanding free and fair elections.

Thousands of the nation's ethnic Indians held a protest against discrimination on November 25, drawing about the same number of demonstrators as the November 10 rally. Twenty-six ethnic Indians were later charged [JURIST report] with attempted murder for clashing with police at the rally. Badawi announced in late November that government authorities could rely on the country's controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) [HRW backgrounder] to halt protests. The ISA is a preventive detention law that allows the Malaysian government to detain suspects for two years without trial and to renew their detentions indefinitely. AP has more.

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