H S Rao in London June 10, 2008 12:06 IST
Hindraf, a Malaysian outfit spearheading a stir by ethnic-Indians, will press the Commonwealth to suspend Kuala Lumpur from the body for its discriminatory policies against the community.
"We will urge the 54-member Commonwealth to suspend Malaysia from its body," said Malaysia-born Waytha Moorthy, founder-chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force.
Moorthy, a lawyer by profession, is currently seeking asylum in the United Kingdom after the Malaysian government revoked his passport following his return from Geneva on April 21.
"I was totally shocked when I was informed by the UK immigration officer at Gatwick Airport that the Malaysian government has revoked my passport, thus making me de facto stateless."
"The Malaysian government had intended that I be deported back to Malaysia by the British authorities so that I too could be arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act and be detained for an unspecified period of time without trial and be subjected to torture and inhumane treatment for my political beliefs," Moorthy said.
Five Hindraf members, including a newly elected lawmaker, have been in detention since December under ISA for leading unprecedented anti-government street protests in Kuala Lumpur. Their repeated pleas for freedom have been struck down by the Malaysian judiciary.
"I have not committed any offence or crime other than to champion the cause of the systematically marginalised, discriminated and alienated ethnic Indian community in Malaysia, who remained permanently colonised despite achieving independence 51 years ago."
Moorthy said he was distressed that the land where his forefathers 'toiled as indentured labourers' had decided to banish and exile him for speaking for his community.
He claimed that the Malaysian government had demolished an estimated 10,000 Hindu temples during the last 20 years in the name of development.
"We are not against development but we are against targeting the ethnic minorities and their places of worship in the name of development," the Hindraf leader said.
He said the Malaysian government had arrested the five members on the 'cooked up' charge that they were linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, though they had nothing to do with the Tamil Tigers.
Among those arrested and held under ISA is his elder brother P Uthayakumar, a leading Malaysian lawyer.
He said there were about 1.8 million to two million ethnic Indians including Christians, Muslims and Hindus in Malaysia, which has a population of 27 million.
Moorthy, who did his law from the UK, said, "The Malaysian government is opening a new chapter in the history of our democratic struggle by revoking my passport and arresting others connected with the movement."
He alleged that ethnic Indians in Malaysia were denied equal opportunities in education and other fields and their plantations were acquired by government.