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Malaysia accused of rights abuse for barring activist's trip


AFP
KUALA LUMPUR
MALAYSIA'S government faced fresh allegations of trampling rights on Monday after the leader of a massive demonstration last year calling for the premier's ouster over a graft scandal said she was prevented going abroad to accept an award.
Maria Chin Abdullah, who heads the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections -- Malaysia's leading political pressure group -- said she was stopped Sunday night from travelling to South Korea to accept the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights on behalf of her group.
"It's outrageous and shows a desperate government clutching on to power when it should be accountable," she told AFP.
Chin said she was given no explanation and that the refusal violated her constitutional rights.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's government is accused of cracking down on civil liberties following a 2013 election setback and amid allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from a state development fund he founded called 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Najib and 1MDB both deny wrongdoing.
Chin's organisation -- known in Malaysia as"Bersih", the Malay word for"clean" -- is an alliance of NGOs that has staged large demonstrations in recent years to demand reform of an electoral system it says is rigged in favour of the ruling coalition.