Malaysians at US, UN offices for Israel protest
UPDATED @ 02:30:37 PM 01-06-2010KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Hundreds of Malaysians staged noisy protests at the US embassy and the United Nations office in the city today against the Israeli raid of a flotilla of Gaza-bound aid ships in which some 10 people died.
Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin led a group outside the UN office in Jalan Semantan while the Malay Consultative Council (MPM) led the first group of protesters outside the US embassy in busy Jalan Tun Razak.
The MPM protesters called for a boycott of Israeli and American products as they waved placards and chanted anti-Israeli slogans. A number of other groups are scheduled to send protest notes to the embassy throughout the day.
Police kept watch to prevent untoward incidents.
“Israel is an international pirate!” shouted a spokesperson for Malay rights group Perkasa.
“We boycott Israeli products!” others chipped in.
“We consider the attack on innocent unarmed volunteers as an act of terrorism, uncivilized and against humanity,” said Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali in his memorandum to the White House.
“We are holding you and your country responsible for the brutal murder of the volunteers who looked upon the United States as the superpower that protect(s) innocent lives and uphold(s) human rights,” he added.
Tension rose when a man claiming to be a Palestinian and wearing a Perkasa headband put a knife to his own throat, threatening to kill himself.
A witness said Perkasa volunteers immediately prevented him from doing so. After which police officers subdued and bundled the half-naked man into a patrol car.
Over at the UN office, Umno Youth protesters burned and stepped on an Israeli flag before handing over a memorandum of condemnation to UN coordinator for Malaysia, Kamal Malholtra.
Malaysia last night condemned the attack by the Israeli defence force on the Gaza humanitarian aid flotilla, which was sailing in international waters, saying the act was “a serious breach of international law.”
“Malaysia demands Israel to immediately cease its excessive and inhumane treatment of the activists and calls for the immediate release of the innocent people and the ships,” Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said in a statement.
He also urged the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to consider action against Israel and to put pressure on Israel to immediately lift the blockade on Gaza.
Anifah said the ministry “is closely monitoring the developments as we have Malaysians onboard.”
The flotilla, originally made up of nine ships, was organised by pro-Palestinian groups and a Turkish human rights organisation.
One of the ships, Mavi Marmara, was attacked by Israeli soldiers yesterday morning, near Gaza, with two Malaysians — a journalist and a cameraman from Astro Awani — onboard.
Their fate is still unknown.
Six Perdana Global Peace Organisation representatives, who are on another ship, are safe.
Meanwhile Pakatan Rakyat (PR) also joined the chorus of condemnation.
PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar and PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar handed a memorandum to the US embassy amidst a two hundred-strong crowd chanting “Hidup Hamas” and “Tumbang Zionis”.
“We issue four demands to the Malaysian prime minister,” said Mahfuz in reference to the international diplomatic crisis.
“We give 48 hours to the Malaysian prime minister to call a special Parliamentary session to discuss this issue...and discuss a plan to rescue the 12 Malaysians (on board the humanitarian convoy),” added Mahfuz.
The PAS vice-president also demanded Datuk Seri Najib Razak to terminate the government’s contract with public relations firm APCO Worldwide based in Tel Aviv within 48 hours.
All informal and formal negotiations with “illegal state” Israel has to end, said Mahfuz.
PKR Batu MP Tian Chua demanded the United States to take stern action against Israel.
“We demand the United States and its allies to take strong action against the Zionist regime,” said Tian Chua, who then led shouts of “Hidup Palestin” and “Jatuh Zionis”.
PKR Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah labeled the Israeli attack as a “war crime” and called on Najib to do more beyond issuing a statement.
“We call for the United Nations Security Council to act against this heartless villainy because mere stern criticism is not enough,” said PKR Youth Chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin in a statement.
PR component party DAP was noticeably absent from the demonstration that was attended by some 200 Malaysians.