Friday, September 5, 2008

From Waytha - The truth of how Hindraf struggles start



26 April 2008

Re: Today's Press Release by various quarters.

I refer to the various press releases issued by various quarters today in all 3 Tamil Dailies on the saga affecting HINDRAF.
For many Malaysians HINDRAF only gives an impression of a struggle on November 25th and the power of people's Makkal Sakti displayed on the day. It was a proud day for all Malaysian Indians as for once Indians in Malaysia were united for a single cause ie to make their plight known to the world.
But what people did not know that HINDRAF was initiated on a serious issue affecting the rights of non-muslims as a result of the M.Moorthy case in December 2005.
I myself was not directly involved in public life or on the forefront of defending Human Rights though Uthayakumar was well known then. At the most I was involved on the background in helping Uthayakumar in his cases particularly in the death in Police custody and the shoot to kill policy. I was a member of a social organization called Vivekananda Youth Movement in Seremban.
But the way the M.Moorthy issue was handled by NGO's in Malaysia including the MCCBHS was appalling that I decided that I was not going to let this pass like any other issues that went unnoticed and swept under the carpet. That was when with the help of Ramaji about 30 organisation representatives gathered at P.Uthayakumar's office and HINDRAF was formed as a coalition but unfortunately most of these organisations left within 2 weeks and I was left in the lurch without a committee. Despite this, single handedly I campaigned on the rights of non Muslims to practise their religion at the International level when I went on an international campaign in January 2006.

I was the first person in Malaysia to raise these serious violations of Human Rights particularly religious freedom at the International Forum i.e. at the US State Department, US Foreign Relations Committee, US Human Rights Caucus, various Senators and Congressman, Human Rights Watch (the most powerful human rights organisation in USA). From there I came to London to lobby support from the Amnesty International which had its International Headquarters in London, UK Parliament and met various MP's. I made sure all these campaigns were published in the Malaysian media but because religion was a sensitive issue in Malaysia only malaysiakini carried the news.
All these I did at the expense of scarifying my legal practice for more than a month, and at my own expenses with the help of an individual who was kind enough to understand my financial burden.

Most Indians never knew what and how I single handedly struggled during these times and the risk of being arrested under ISA for raising the matter at International level.
In March 2006 just after I returned I was approached by a small temple in Bangsar which was more than 100 years old which was demolished on 26th March 2006. Upon receiving call I attended to this temple and worked on the issue for more than 20 hours non stop and made sure this small poor working class temple demolition should not be swept under the carpet as usual and it became international news when wire agencies throughout the world picked up the news.
It was after this that Uthayakumar offered to help me and together we raise issues of thousands of Hindu temples being demolished in Malaysia. At the height of this I did a second International lobby for the issue. I and Uthayakumar can prove that we had written hundreds of letters/appeals/memorandums to the Agong, Sultans, PM, Attorney General,IGP, and world organisations. All these were done at our own expense which went into thousands of Ringgit. No one came forward to help us then. Demonstrations and protests were then pathetic with a handful of people beginning with about 20 people including me uthayakumar and my family members which included my only daughter who was only about 3 years old then. Demonstrations and protests were at its infancy stage.
Demonstrations in front of Bukit Aman were unthinkable. Demonstrations in the office building of the Attorney General (not outside) must have taken a lot of guts and to convince the handful of people to do it was a greater challenge. I can go on with the feats at Istana, sultans palace parliaments ect. Standing in front of the bulldozers at demolition of temple sites and getting manhandled by police and arrested was a norm then and we had good sympathisers like Manickavasagam and Jayathas who were equally roughed up. Where was the man who has been claiming he was the FOUNDER of Hindraf and where was the so called Secretary. I have evidence of photographs and video of these protests. On one occasion they attended, one was standing at the end of the crowd and another claimed he had headache and was sitting on the ground. It is only fair to say that while all these new kind of challenge was thrown at the Malaysian Government both Uthayakumar and myself had the genuine sympathy of two great personalities M.Manoharan and R.Kengadharan who had offered their legal services as their contribution to the cause.

We were relieved that one big burden was taken off our shoulders by these 2 lawyers and we could concentrate on the main issues.
But the point is most Malaysians never knew this history of HINDRAF. November 25th never came on its own. It came after I had decided to gamble all within myself to file a class action against the UK Government. Road shows we conducted throughout the country attended by thousands of curious supporters who wanted to know what the suit was about. The thousands who attended were impressed that we had a plan and vision for the Indian community. I had maintained that HINDRAF never had any political intentions, however we had political friends like Manoharan, Manickam, Jayathas and. It was during this time when suddenly Uthayakumar said we have the services of 2 new personalities Ganapathi Rao and Vasanthakumar. They joined us from September 2007 onwards (before we started the Roadshows) enthusiastically and we believed their sincerity. Ganapathi Rao being a lawyer was given opportunities to speak at our road shows on Malaysian Budget. Vasanthakumar had helped to organise
printing and other ground work. Upon his suggestion I later appointed him (upon my honest trust) as the pro tem Treasurer after which he opened a bank account under HINDRAF ENTERPRISE.
So in total the contributions of these 2 personalities were for 2 ½ months prior to their arrests under the ISA. They were not even there at the forum which adopted the 18 points demand that were to be submitted to the PM on 12th August 2007.
If their contributions are more than this then they should put it in writing for all to see what they had actually contributed.
This doesn't mean I do not appreciate their contributions. They have no doubt done their part. Though in January 2008 I discovered Vasanthakumar was planted by Police special branch to infiltrate HINDRAF I still took it upon me to campaign for his release as well for I appreciated whatever he had done during this short period. I had concealed the fact to protect the integrity of the new freedom movement which found genuine support from the masses who had placed their hope on this organisation to advocate their rights.
The two great personalities Manoharan and Kengadharan merely acted as Counsels and lawyers for Uthayakumar, I and the hundreds others who were later arrested on November 2007. For this there had to pay a high price i.e. arrest under the ISA. These were the information I had given to all my International lobby including the International Bar Association i.e. that Lawyers are detained for performing their duties.
HINDRAF's struggle is noble. I have always maintained my personal belief that this is a dharmic war and if it is indeed a dharmic war we would win eventually albeit all the backstabbing and badmouthing.
From September 2007 (road shows) thousands of well wishers had approached me for membership forms. I had always told them that if they were a true believer in the 18 point demands that we had submitted to the PM on 12th August 2008 and are willing to fight for their rights without fear or personal gain then they were members and there was no need for a registration form and subscription.
Though I left the country upon my release on 28th November 2008 I had done and am still doing all within my strength and capability to seek the release of the 5 detained. I had used my personal funds to travel throughout India UK Europe Geneva. The issue of the 5 HINDRAF leaders has been raised in the Tamil Nadu Parliament immediately upon my arrival in India thereafter in Parliament In New Delhi, Indian PM and Foreign Minister, Leaders of the opposition House of Parliament, Madam jayalalitha, Vaico, The Dalai Lama, UK Parliament, British MP's, House of Lords, The Parliament at Scotland,The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Amnesty International., Human Rights Trusts UK, Minority Rights International, International Bar Association, UK Bar Association, Law Society for England and Wales, World Organisation against Torture based in Geneva, United Nations Human Rights Council, International Red Cross, FIDH in France, Human Rights Commission in Brussels, Human Rights Commission in Holland, European Parliament to name some of the work I have done.

By using my base in England I managed to get a briefing organised for the first time at the US Congress on 8th April 2008 which was attended by Senators and Congressman, Civil and Human Rights organisations in US and the Malaysian embassy which was severally embarrassed. This was seen as an act of betrayal by the UMNO Government and hence they revoked my passport immediately. I am now a stateless person for doing what I felt right for Malaysian
While doing all the above I also manage HINDRAF from London and wherever I travelled. I plan the campaigns in Malaysia for the release of the 5 and for the basic rights of Malaysian Indians as per the 18 point demands submitted. I not only plan but execute the campaign in Malaysia from where I am. For this I have thousands of well wishers on the ground who take instructions from me and my 10 member interim committee which I formed in February 2008.
Today we have been stabbed by many within us. To cover himself Vasanthakumar has made accusations via his wife attacking me as a coward who ran away from problems and Raidu who had accused me of using children.
I sympathise for Mrs Vasanthakumar and her family for the naive hope and belief that has been placed before the truth by sinister. I offer my apologies to her for having to expose her husband at this stage.
As for Raidu he is not worth my effort to respond as his statements are sheer evil and ominous statements. He was a boy sitting in the front row of every road shows and enthusiastically clapping hands whenever each speaker made their points as if he was enlightened for the first time.
I urge all genuine HINDRAF supporters to remain calm, focussed and let us maintain our phase to seek our democratic rights. I maintain HINDRAF is not a membership seeking organisation nor is it keen to mislead the people.
We are here to advocate our basic rights even if it means permanent incarceration.

P.Waytha Moorthy
Currently in London

Amnesty International Statement : Malaysia- ISA used to punish human rights activists

Malaysia: Internal Security Act used to punish human rights activists

4 September 2008

New information about the arbitrary detention of five Malaysian government critics obtained by Amnesty International researchers highlights the need for the Malaysian parliament to immediately abolish the country's Internal Security Act, Amnesty International said today.
A recent Amnesty International mission to Malaysia researching the human rights situation there established that the sole reason for the detention of five members of Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), a group dedicated to defending the rights of Malaysia's ethnic South Asians, was for expressing concerns about the marginalization of ethnic South Asians within Malaysian society and specifically for organizing rallies.
"The detentions illustrate exactly what is wrong with the Internal Security Act," said Donna Guest, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Director. "These men are being treated like criminals, but they have never been charged, much less convicted, of a crime. They should be released immediately."
The government has accused the five of being "leaders and legal advisers of an organization which affects national security of Malaysia through having illegal assemblies, sending of memorandum, forums whose activities incite racial sentiment and hatred towards government among Indians".
HINDRAF had organized a series of meetings and rallies, culminating in a protest demonstration of some 20,000 people in Kuala Lumpur on 25 November 2007. The five men, Ganabathirau Veraman, Kenghadharan Ramasamy, Manoharan Malayalam, Uthayakumar Ponnusamy and Vasantha Kumar Krishnan, are currently being held at Kamunting Detention Centre, Perak State.
"If the Malaysian opposition parties are serious about reforming the country's political system, they need to start the process to abolish this draconian legislation," Donna Guest said. "The ISA has been used for too long to stamp out legitimate criticism of the government."
Background Information
In 2007, the government demolished a number of Hindu temples to make way for development projects, despite petitions by local Hindu communities. HINDRAF organized series of meetings and rallies, culminating in the protest demonstration of some 20,000 people in Kuala Lumpur on 25 November 2007.
In October 2007, local authorities destroyed an 80-year old Hindu temple in Taman Karuppiah, Shah Alam on the eve of the Hindu Deepavali festival. Police shot at devotees trying to stop the demolition, injuring several of them, and arrested at least 14. When lawyers Ganabathirau, Manoharan, Uthayakumar and HINDRAF leader Waytha Moorthy came to the Police Station to seek bail for the 14 in detention, the police also arrested them. They were released the next day.
Two days before a planned demonstration in the Batu Caves Hindu temple, Uthayakumar, Ganabathirau and Waytha Moorthy were arrested and detained for sedition. They were subsequently released. When the Hindu devotees gathered in the temple, in the early hours of 25 November, police dispersed them using chemically laced water and tear gas. Police then arrested a number of the devotees, most of whom have subsequently been released.
On 11 December, Uthayakumar was arrested for sedition and fined 50,000 Malaysian Ringgits (£7,400) despite the maximum bail for sedition being at 5,000 Malaysian Ringgits (£740). He posted bail but was immediately re-arrested. He was released the next day. On 13 December, police arrested Ganabathirau, Kenghadharan, Manoharan, Uthayakumar and Vasantha Kumar. Waytha Moorthy, who was in the United Kingdom at the time of arrests, is seeking asylum there.
Lawyers of the HINDRAF detainees filed a writ of Habeas Corpus, but this was dismissed by the Federal Court on 15 May 2008. Based on a different set of grounds, their lawyers filed another Habeas Corpus on 4 August. A decision is expected by the Ipoh High Court on 8 September.
At least 65 people are being held at Kamunting Detention Centre under the administrative detention provisions of the ISA. The Internal Security Act allows the police to arrest individuals they believe have acted, or are "about to" or "likely to" act in a way that would threaten Malaysian security, "essential services" or "economic life" (Article 73 (1)b).
Detainees can be held for up to 60 days for investigation by the police, after which time the Home Minister can issue a two year detention order under the ISA. The two year detention can be renewed indefinitely without the detainee ever being charged with a crime or tried in a court of law. As such the ISA is contrary to fundamental principles of international law, including the right to liberty of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, the presumption of innocence, and the right to fair and open trial in a court of law.