Friday, August 13, 2010

Signature campaign to highlight conversion cases

(Malaysiakini) The Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP) is going on an ambitious plan to get 100,000 signatures nationwide to highlight the plight of seven women involved in conversion cases and submit memorandums later to the Agong and the Sultans of Perak and Johor.

NONEPerak HRP state chief P Ramesh, 39, told Malaysiakini today that the two-day signature campaign was launched by party pro-tem secretary general P Uthayakumar (left) at the Expo Hindraf/HRP near Kuil Sri Nagannal in Ipoh yesterday.

The signature campaign is also in conjunction with the celebration of the Adipuram Hindu festival at the temple today.

According to Ramesh, who is also the national Hindraf secretary, this signature strategy by HRP will be carried out nationwide at all Hindu temples and Hindu functions organised by the party.

The affected women are five from Perak - M Indira Gandhi,35, S Banggarma, 28, two sisters Laila, 25, and Habeeba Sulaiman Mohd, 23, and Siti Mariam Abidin, 47; one each from Malacca - Rani @ Jamillah Abdul Kadir, 46, and Johor - Regina Mohd Zaini, 32.

These seven women were supposed to be present at a HRP media conference organised by Uthayakumar near this Hindu temple today to highlight their plight.

However, only Indira, Banggarma and Rani turned up, while the others had prior commitments.

Abandoned family

According to Parit Buntar HRP district chief M Sivakumar, 38, the sisters' Hindu mother R Inthirani, 44, had married their father Sulaiman Mohd, 46, a bus driver. He later abandoned the family.

Both the sisters have married Hindus and the elder sister Laila has married K Kalimuthu and has four children aged seven, six, four and two.

NONELaila has managed to register the births of the first three children as Hindus but the Parit Buntar registration department in Parit Buntar has allegedly refused to register the birth of the last child.

According to Sivakumar (right), the registration department has allegedly set conditions for registering Nitishwaran - either Laila converts herself into a Hindu or convert all the members of her family into Islam.

Sivakumar claims that both the sisters Laila and Habeeba and their mother had all the while remained as Hindus and did not practice the religion of Islam, although their father had given them Muslim names. Both the sisters now want a change from Muslim to Hindu names.

In the case of Siti Mariam, her Muslim mother, Ramlah Man, had married a Hindu who converted to Islam as Abidin Abdullah.

NONEAccording to Sivakumar, after giving birth to Siti, Ramlah left the family and went away and Abidin married a Hindu woman and both he and his daughter reverted to Hinduism.

Siti has married a Hindu, S Palani Muthu, and has three children (two daughters and a son) - P Vanithan, 18, P Vanitha, 19, and Ariata, 17.

Both the two elder children have been registered as Hindus in their identity cards.

However, the problem arises with the third daughter whose birth certificate states no information on the father although the father was present, according to Sivakumar.

Ariata has been registered as a Muslim in her identity card and her father died on Jan 18, 2001 due to illness.

Now, Siti wants the registration authorities to recognise her and Ariata as Hindus.

Second wife

According to HRP national information officer and Hindraf information chief S Jayathas, Regina's father Mohd Zaini @ Krishnan who had earlier married a Malay woman, had taken her Hindu mother as a second wife and they have three children - two daughters and a son.

The elder daughter was able to change her status to Hindu but not Regina and her younger brother, who are still classified as Muslims.

The father died when Regina was four years old and her mother died about five years ago.

Regina had married a Hindu and her problem started when her son Thinas was born and she was unable to register his birth with the registration department.

NONEMeanwhile, Jayathas said that Rani (right, with Indira) is the sixth child of her parents who had 10 children. When she was 16 days old, her parents due to financial difficulties, had given her away to their Hindu neighbour by the name of Kandasamy.

Her Muslim mother Aminnah Ahmadu had married her converted father Abdul Kadir @ Krishnan.

When Rani was 16, she married her Hindu husband who was later forced to convert to Islam as Mustapha @ M Muniandy and they have four children - two daughters and two sons.

Their eldest daughter (who is 27 years old now) is named Aishah bt Mustapha Muniandy in her birth certificate, but the parents managed to change her name to Vijaya Letchumy A/P M Muniandy in her identity card.

However, the other three children, Abdul (now 26), Hamzah, 24, and Citra Devi, 16, still carry their Muslim names in their identity cards.

According to Jayathas, Rani had made sworn declarations before a commissioner of oaths that she wanted Abdul to be known by his Hindu name of Ganesan and Hamzah as Nagendran, but the registration department has allegedly refused to make the changes.

Ruling can't be enforced

As for Indira, she has obtained an Ipoh High Court order on March 11 for the custody of her third child Prasana Diksa, but is unable to enforce the ruling on her converted husband Mohd Riduan Abdullah @ K Pathmanathan who is allegedly hiding in Kelantan with the child.

On July 31, Indira had lodged a police report against her husband for criminal intimidation for using abusive words against her during a phone conversion on July 29 and for refusing to surrender the child to her according to the court order of March 11.

An angry Uthayakumar in a media conference today said: "It has been five months since the High Court passed the order and the police are unable to execute the court's order."

"This is gross injustice and contempt of court and we want the police to carry out their duties without fear or favour in returning the child to the mother," he said.

He cited a case in which he was the lawyer for Malaysian fugitive Michael Soosai who is believed to be hiding in India.

He said, "The police were very efficient in tracing Michael's family who were hiding in Ipoh within three days. So the same efficiency should also apply in Indira's case," he reasoned.

Application turned down

As for the S Banggama conversion case, on Aug 4 the Penang High Court had turned down her application for a court order that would nullify her conversion to Islam when she was seven.

NONEJudicial commissioner Yaacob Sam had found that Banggama (right) is a Muslim since her parents had converted to Islam in 1983 together with their children, and thus the civil court has no jurisdiction to hear matters concerning her conversion to Islam.

Banggarma's Muslim name is Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah and she is living in Tanjong Piandang with her husband, S Scokalingam and their two children Kanagaraj, eight, and Hisyanthini, two.

Banggarma's contention is that she had always remained a Hindu and will die as a Hindu even after the High Court had ruled against her.