Monday, December 15, 2008

Makkal Sakthi goes Hunger Strike to appeal on Repeal ISA

15 on hunger strike over ISA
Dec 14, 08 3:11pm

Fifteen Hindraf supporters launched a hunger strike on Sunday to demand the abolition of a tough security law which the government says is needed to combat terrorism, organisers said.

"The five-day hunger strike is to protest against the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) and to demand all detainees are freed," S. Jayathas, coordinator of the rights group Hindraf which organised the strike, told AFP.

"The hunger strike is also to demand the government end all injustices in Malaysia and stop discriminating against minority Indians."

The ISA, a relic of the British colonial era when it was used to fight a communist insurgency, allows for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial.
The government says it is a vital tool to fight terrorism, but rights groups say the law has been improperly used to silence government critics, and that detainees are mentally and physically tortured.

Rights groups say 70 people, mainly alleged Islamic militants, are being held under the ISA.
Hunger strikers to only take water
The protesters are staging their hunger strike at a small temple north of Kuala Lumpur.
Some of those taking part are relatives of five Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf) leaders, who are being held under the ISA.
The five, one of whom is a state lawmaker, were arrested after enraging the government last November by mounting a mass rally alleging discrimination against Malaysia's minority ethnic Indians.
Ethnic Indians make up less than eight percent of the 27-million-strong population of the mainly Muslim Malay country.
Jayathas said the protesters would only consume water during the strike.
Letter from Jayathas on Hunger Strike
Almighty God!! We humbly bow at your feet.
Today (14th Dec 2008 ) Makkal Sakthi supporters launched a hunger strike until the UMNO regime acts on the plight of all Malaysians to Abolish the draconian ISA law, release all ISA detainees and allow their chairman Mr. P. Waythamoorthy for a save return to his beloved homeland.
Almost 50 Makkal Sakthi supporters gathered at the
Sri Maha Kaliamman Temple at
B1 Kg .Sri Temenggong, Sri Gombak, Selangor
today and commenced the hunger strike after paying homage to the Almighty Goddess Mother Sri Maha Kaliaman.
P.Uthayakumar's sister P.Waythanayagi also join in the hunger strike to Abolish the draconian law ISA. National Coordinator, S.Jayathas said that a copy of the "Makkal Sakthi 18 Points Demand" was surrendered at the feet of Goddess Maha Kaali , seeking Her blessings to make the UMNO led BN government to repeal the ISA and address the 51 yrs of colonialization, discrimination and suppression against the minority Malaysians Indians.
The supporters demanded immediate and unconditional release of the HINDRAF leaders together with the others detained under the ISA.
They urged that KEMTA be shut down and questioned that "When America's president elect Barrack Obama can shut down Guatanamo Bay Centre, why can't the same done to KEMTA by the Malaysian Government.
S. Jayathas further stated that the selective prosecution and double standards in recognizing the right to freedom of assembly, with those opposing government policies targeted for arrest and harsh crackdowns. Recently we celebrated World Human Rights Day and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 1 says That all human being are born FREE and EQUAL in dignity and rights, but today in Malaysia this dosent take place instead racial discrimination continues. We the Malaysians want to see the change in our beloved country. Please Support our struggle to Abolish ISA.
Valga Makkal SAKTHI
Valga Uthaya SAKTHI
Makkal Sakthi National Coordinater
012 6362287

P.Uthaya - Free them, I'll take full responsibility

'Free them, I'll take full responsibility'
Rahmah Ghazali Dec 14, 08 3:06pm

ISA detainee and banned movement Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar made a startling revelation last night when he vowed to take full responsibility for the fevents which led to the detention of his ‘fellow lawyer brothers’.

Delivering the message through his 14-year-old nephew V Prasad (right) at the anti-ISA forum in Klang, he said that he would take complete responsibility for the 18-point demands the group had submitted to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the administration capital Putrajaya in August last year.
"I stand by those demands made and urge the government to release my fellow lawyer brothers who merely acted in helping me and my brother (Hindu Rights Action Force chairperson) P Waythamoorthy in various matters in court.
"The three lawyers have suffered in prison for a year and there are no valid reasons for the government to hold them and they should be immediately released," said lawyer and Hindraf’s legal adviser Uthayakumar in his brief statement to the 250-strong crowd who had gathered at the PAS hall.

Uthayakumar was referring to lawyers M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan and V Ganabatirau who were detained together with him on Dec 13 last year under the tough security law for allegedly carrying out activities which threatened national security.
The other Hindraf leader who has been detained is the movement’s organising secretary, T Vasanthakumar.

Forty-seven-year-old Uthayakumar is elder brother of self-exiled Hindraf chairperson Waythamoorthy, who is currently in London and is likely to face arrest under ISA should he return home.

‘One year in prison taught me to be strong’

As Prasad delivered his uncle’s message to the somber but high-spirited crowd, Uthayakumar also said that one year in prison has taught him to be strong.

"I’ve resolved to struggle for the rights of Malaysian Indians. The Umno government has cheated Malaysian Indians for more than 51 years and this has to come to an end," he said.

Uthayakumar also pointed out that it was crucial for the minority Indians to be united and speak in a single voice.
"With this single voice we should continue to push forward and I urge all of you to be prepared for a higher task of not only demanding our rights from this government but to also make yourselves available to serve the community in a positive way," Uthayakumar added.

As 2008 comes to a close, Uthayakumar urged Malaysians to dedicated themselves to serving the community in the new year.
"I urge all of you to come forward to join us in our next agenda to serve the public," he said.

Mkini- Makkal Sakthi held Anti ISA forum at Markas PAS Jalan Kebun

Mkini -Outlawed Hindraf's spirit lives on
Rahmah Ghazali Dec 14, 08 2:38pm

Despite being declared a banned movement, Hindraf’s spirit among its supporters still lived on, and this was proven at their anti-ISA forum at PAS’ hall in Klang last night.

The Hindu Rights Action Force’s forum, attended by about 250 people, was held in conjunction with the first anniversary of the Internal Security Act (ISA) detention of five Hindraf leaders, which many of the supporters have described as their ‘blackest day’.

According to national coordinator S Jayathas, who was the first speaker at the forum, the event was organised to launch a hunger strike, which is to kick off today at a Hindu temple in Shah Alam.

According to Jayathas (left), the hunger strike of a dozen of supporters will continue "until the government releases their leaders and abolish the ISA".

The three-hour forum saw some prominent Pakatan politicians including PAS Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, DAP Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, PKR Kapar MP S Manikavasagam and Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

RPK did not show up

Much to the supporters’ disappointment however, controversial Malaysia Today editor and former ISA detainee Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was expected to address the crowd last night, could not make it as "he was warned three times by the police not to attend" the forum.

This was claimed by Hindraf coordinator W Sambulingam in his speech, saying that "if he (Raja Petra) chooses to come here tonight, he would face another arrest, so he decided not to come".

Sambulingam also lamented that there were six police roadblocks leading to the PAS hall, and this could have affected the turnout of yesterday’s crowd.

The five Hindraf leaders have been held under the tough security law on Dec 13 last year for "carrying out activities that threatened national security" and allegedly having links with Sri Lanka separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Those detained are P Uthayakumar M Manoharan, R Kenghadharan and V Ganabatirau and T Vasanthakumar.

Prior to their arrest, Hindraf had organised a massive protest which saw some 30,000 people taking to the streets in Kuala Lumpur.

The movement was made illegal on Oct 15 two weeks after some 200 Hindraf supporters visited the prime minister's 'open house' during the Hari Raya celebration at the Putra World Trade Centre, where they had pressed for the repeal of the ISA.

‘Arrest me, I am not scared’

The anti-ISA forum began with a high-spirited speech from Manikavasagam.

He challenged the Special Branch police officers, whom he claimed were present at the forum, to arrest him for supporting Hindraf.

"Hindraf is still alive! I’m not scared because I have been working with (detained Hindraf leader) Uthayakumar for seven years. Arrest me anytime you want, I am not scared," thundered the Kapar MP, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Meanwhile, Siti Mariah (right) said "every cloud has a silver lining" as many Malaysian Indians have come to realise that Islamic opposition party PAS had been continuously fighting to abolish ISA.

"If Hindraf leaders were not arrested under the ISA, many Indians would not know what ISA is. Now they know that it’s a draconian law that we should all fight against it.

"However, it’s a shame that most of Malays who are more highly-educated still think we need the ISA to protect the security," said the PAS leader.

The focus then turned to outspoken Puchong MP Gobind, who said there were still ‘ghosts’ in the ruling Barisan Nasional who wanted ISA amended, but were still unwilling to do the necessary to achieve that.

He was referring to PPP’s recent threat to leave the BN coalition if ISA is not amended although Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said there were no plans to do so.

"PM has already told them ISA is not going to be amended, then leave now. Why bother? And where is the leader? He’s not even here, is he scared to make a decision?" said Gobind of M Kayveas, who is currently overseas.

Small commotion erupted during speech

While Gobind was delivering his speech to the crowd, a small commotion erupted at the sideline of the forum where three people who claimed to be Hindraf supporters protested over a banner depicting the movement’s leaders.

It was learnt that the supporters were not satisfied with the organisers as the banner showed only four detained Hindraf leaders together with a photo of the outlawed organisation’s self-exile chairperson P Waythamoorthy.

"Where’s the other photo of the Hindraf 5? It should be five rather than four," they said furiously, referring to the group’s organising secretary and ISA detainee, Vasanthakumar, whose photo was not on the banner.

The argument with the organisers lasted for about five minutes, which some claimed the three outraged supporters "were planted to sabotage the event".

It was later revealed to Malaysiakini by one of the organisers that Vasanthakumar’s wife has requested not to have her husband’s photo on the banner or "she would sue us".

Over the past four months, there has been a fallout between Waythamoorthy - who is currently in London - and Vasanthakumar’s family.

It is believed that, among others, Vasanthakumar prefers a less in-your-face campaign for the release of the Hindraf 5.

The forum ended with a one-minute silence to commemorate the first anniversary of the arrest with lit candles and the released of five pigeons - each representing the five detainees.

Briefing in UK House of Lords on M'sian Indians Plight


British Conservative party's Shadow Minister for Education and a member of the House of Lords Baroness Verma of Leicester today (Dec 8, 2008) hosted a briefing on the plight of minority Indian rights of Malaysia.

The briefing was held at the House of Lords on behalf of the Friends of Minority Communities in Malaysia.
The purpose of the briefing was for members of the House of Lords and House of Commons to obtain a true picture on the plights of the ethnic minority Indian community in Malaysia.

Baroness Verma had extended invitation to key personalities from Malaysian as well as from the USA.

The speakers were the Director of Public Policy of the Hindu American Foundation Ishani Chowdhury, the Director of Centre for Public Policy Studies (Malaysia) Tricia Yeoh, Human Rights Advocate (Malaysia) P Waythamoorthy and the editor of K Kabilan.

"This is an important event that emphasizes the need to sustain focus on a nation that continues to discriminate against the minority Hindu population by judicial onslaughts, educational impediments and temple destruction," Ms Chowdhury told the briefing.

"The Malaysian government needs to work with its peaceful and productive minority community and address these legitimate grievances. Only then can it ensure true upliftment of its people and progress as a multi-ethnic nation," she added.
Ms Yeoh said that Indians in Malaysia were excluded from the mainstream, were mismanaged, and was a misunderstood community.

She said that there were an estimated 40,000 unregistered Indian children nationwide and as a result they were excluded from examinations, university, scholarships, access to healthcare, business and employment.
"The Indian participation in the civil sector has also dwindled in recent years. Their representation in civil service stood at 7.2% in 2006 and now it is on 2.8%," she said.

Ms Yeoh also touched on the various Malaysian government measures and efforts to solve the Indian problems.
Kabilan spoke about the plight of the plantation workers in Malaysia, stating that their condition had largely remained unchanged since independence in 1957.
"Issues such as wages, housing rights, education and healthcare are still there," he said.

"In 1941 and then in 1946, there were reports published which stated that these plantation workers wanted a better wage structure, an improvement of living quarters, a proper healthcare and a proper education.
"Malaysiakini did a story on bonded laborers' two years ago and we found out that these workers were still in want of the same things which were originally sought in 1941," he added.

He also said that the measures implemented by the government had been insufficient in addressing the problems faced by these plantation workers.
Waythamoorthy, who is also the chairperson of the Hindraf, spoke on the marginalisation of the Indian community for the past 50 years.
"And for speaking up these issues, five Hindraf leaders have been detained under the draconian Internal Security Act which provided for detention without trial," he said.

He urged the Baroness to look into the sorry situation of the Indian community in Malaysia and to influence British politicians to raise their concerns to the Malaysian government.

"We will continue in highlighting the grievances of this community in the international arena as the local government is not keen to meet us and address the issues," he said in the briefing.

Representatives of Civil societies within the UK also attended the briefing which included Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, European Centre for Human Rights Studies, The Law Society of England and Wales. Community leaders of the local Hindu/Indian community pledged their support and agreed to take up the matter further with the European Parliament members.