Saturday, March 6, 2010

HINDRAF to bring up ‘ethnic cleansing’ in briefing at House of Commons in London

HINDRAF to bring up ‘ethnic cleansing’ (Malaysiakini) Joe Fernandez

‘Ethnic cleansing’ in Malaysia is on the agenda of two briefings in London on Tuesday (Mar 9).

The first briefing in the afternoon will be at the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission and the second at the House of Commons.

Both briefings were arranged by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and The Monitoring Group (TMG), a UK-based human rights organisation.

Makkal Sakthi – people power in Tamil – is the motto of the Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), a human rights and equal rights movement.

Hindraf will be joined at the briefings by activists from Sabah and Sarawak under the aegis of the Common Interest Group Malaysia (Cigma).

Cigma is an apolitical ad hoc movement in Sabah and Sarawak pledged to uphold and ensure compliance with the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

Hindraf’s definition of ‘ethnic cleansing’

“Ethnic cleansing is not a misplaced term in Malaysia if we consider that the Indian community has been gradually whittled down in numbers in various spheres,” explained Hindraf chair-in-exile Waythamoorthy Ponnusamy in a telephone call to Malaysiakini last night from London.

For Hindraf, ethnic cleansing does not necessarily have to mean that killings or genocide have to take place.

Where Indian participation is mere tokenism or virtually nil – that’s a form of ethnic cleansing, according to Waythamoorthy.

As examples, he cited the Malaysian civil service, the teaching service, diplomatic service, the plantation sector, government-linked corporations, government scholarships, public universities, the armed forces, police and the judiciary.

NONE“All these are the result of the Umno government unilaterally extending special privileges to virtually every sector in Malaysia,” said Waythamoorthy (right).

“Special privileges were merely meant to ensure reasonable Malay and native participation in four sectors.”

He cited the special privileges “in its original form” as employment in the civil service, intake into public universities, government scholarships and opportunities from the government to do business.

Hindraf will also be including its latest annual report, ‘Human Rights Violations in Malaysia’, as part of its presentation in London.

“We have already touched on some of these violations in various press statements,” said Waythamoorthy in dispelling the notion that he had something dramatically new against the Malaysian authorities.

Highlights of the Hindraf report include temple demolishings, denial of Tamil schooling and Tamil language rights in insidious ways, forcible removal of people from their land, police brutality, deaths in police custody, the shoot-to-kill policy of the police and the issue of statelessness.

Also included would be Waythamoorthy’s continuing dilemma over the cancellation of his international passport by the Malaysian authorities.

The Malaysian authorities have also allegedly refused to issue him a new passport, explain themselves, apologise, make suitable amends and compensate him.

“The passport issue will also be taken up separately at the World Court through United Nations officials,” disclosed Waythamoorthy.

The Hindraf chair explained that London will be a big step forward in Hindraf’s international lobbying to seek justice for the Indian community in Malaysia “and end their continued marginalisation from the mainstream”.

“All we are seeking are our legitimate rights under the federal constitution and our place in the Malaysian sun,” stressed Waythamoorthy.

Malaysia Agreement to be brought up

Cigma chair Jeffrey Kitingan may not be able to make it in time for the March 9 briefings in London.

“Cigma will be represented in London by several others from Sabah and Sarawak. There will also be quite a number of Malaysians in Britain turning up,” said a spokesman in Kota Kinabalu. “We will issue a statement in due course on the papers presented and the issues raised.”

He added that the papers from Sabah and Sarawak are still being finalised but hinted that the Malaysian Government’s non-compliance of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement tops the agenda for the London meet.