Saturday, February 5, 2011
Ref ID: 08LONDON1746
Date: 7/1/2008 13:17
Origin: Embassy London
Header: VZCZCXYZ0001RR RUEHWEBDE RUEHLO #1746/01 1831317ZNY CCCCC ZZHR 011317Z JUL 08FM AMEMBASSY LONDONTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9065INFO RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0182RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0783
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001746 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/26/2018 TAGS: PREL, PHUM, MY, UK SUBJECT: MALAYSIA'S HINDRAF LEADER SEEKS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN BRITAIN REF: STATE 65565 Classified By: POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR MAURA CONNELLY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D)
1.(C/NF) Summary: Waytha Moorthy, director of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), told us on June 25 that he is NOT seeking asylum in the U.S., but is seeking asylum in the UK. He said that his application process is currently stalled, however, and he speculated that HMG may not grant him asylum so as not to upset the Malaysian government. He also expressed concerns that the Malaysian government rescinded his passport in order that he be deported back to Malaysia, where he fears arrest. Moorthy asked whether the USG could issue him travel documents to allow him to carry out his human rights work in the U.S. Moorthy also requested financial assistance for his human rights work, which, he claims, focuses on minority rights for the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia. He said that his work is especially important today, as Malaysia increasingly relies on Islamic Sharia law either alongside or in place of Malaysian common law, and that HINDRAF is the only Malaysian group working to combat such changes to the legal system. End Summary.
2.(C/NF) Per Department's request, poloff contacted Waytha Moorthy June 20 to deliver reftel points. In response, Moorthy said:
-- HINDRAF as an organization has always been misunderstood. It is not an Indian political institution, but a organization concerned with the protection of minority rights, as provided for by the UN Convention on Minority Rights. Malaysia itself does not understand the concept of minority rights;
-- He has not made a request for political asylum in the U.S.; and
-- He had wanted to meet with a U.S. Embassy (Political Affairs) representative at Embassy Kuala Lumpur. June 25 meeting with Moorthy ----------------------------
3.(C/NF) In a subsequent meeting June 25 with poloffs, Moorthy sought to clarify his asylum status and describe his work. He reaffirmed that he has not sought political asylum in the U.S. and is instead currently seeking asylum in the UK.
4.(C/NF) Moorthy said that he fled Malaysia after being arrested and then released by Malaysian government authorities in November 2007, and is fearful that he will be re-imprisoned if he returns. He traveled to India, Europe, and the United States, before settling in London, where he currently resides. During his travels, Moorthy met with a number of NGOs and government officials, including Congressional staff in the U.S. in April. He had planned to go back to the U.S. in May, but the Malaysian government revoked his passport, preventing him from traveling. Moorthy subsequently applied for political asylum in the U.K., where his claim is currently being processed. He said that, at one point his application was fast-tracked, but that no actions have since been taken; he suspects that HMG has decided to take no action or move slowly. Moorthy speculates that HMG does not wish to aggravate the Malaysian government by granting him asylum, citing the high volume of trade (including a pending arms sale) between the two countries.
5.(C/NF) Moorthy believes that the Malaysian government revoked his passport to prevent him from furthering his and HINDRAF,s cause, and so that he would eventually be deported back to Malaysia. He explained that several other HINDRAFF leaders were arrested in December 2007 and are still being held without trial.
6.(C/NF) Poloff reiterated the reftel point that the USG does not support politically-partisan organizations. According to Moorthy, however, HINDRAF is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for minority rights in Malaysia. He founded the organization in response to what he saw as an increasingly influential Islamic presence in Malaysia,s government, and as an attempt to counterbalance the rise of Sharia law, which he claims is now often being used alongside or in place of traditional Malaysian constitutional law. He is particularly concerned with a 1988 law ) Article 121(1)(a) ) that established governmentally-sanctioned Sharia courts. Moorthy said that HINDRAF is the first organization to come out strongly against these changes to Malaysian law. He further explained that, although HINDRAF remains a predominantly Hindu advocacy group, it focuses on the expansion of democratic rights for all Malaysians, and is particularly involved in the advocacy of freedom of religion, educational equality, and equal rights for minorities. While HINDRAF has sought to coordinate its efforts with other minority groups, it has had little success in such efforts. It has, however, managed to make it presence known and stage large protests against the government; Moorthy claims that a November 25, 2007 HINDRAF-organized protest in Kuala Lumpur attracted nearly 100,000 people. What Moorthy Wants ------------------
7.(C/NF) Moorthy is concerned that his application for asylum status in the U.K. has been put on hold leaving him without documentation to travel. He asked whether the U.S. would issue a travel document so that he may travel to the U.S. (or Canada) to pursue his advocacy work on a temporary basis. Poloffs explained that they were unaware of the existence of such a travel document, and that they were doubtful that Moorthy could be accommodated. Moorthy then said that he does NOT want permanent asylum, either in the U.K. or U.S. He said that he hopes to return to Malaysia as soon as possible, as his family and law practice remain there, but will only return after the other imprisoned HINDRAF leaders have been released.
8.(C/NF) Moorthy also requested financial support and training for his organization. He desires funds so that he can continue advocating for Malaysian minority rights while he is abroad, and for the establishment of a mission both to monitor and document human rights violations in Malaysia and to train Malaysian citizens in the investigation of human rights abuses.
9.(C/NF) Poloff asked, and Moorthy confirmed, that he is not seeking status as a refugee. He was aware of the UNHCR-led process to gain refugee status. He also understood that a travel document could be issued if he acquired refugee status.
10.(C/NF) Poloffs explained that they were not in a position to offer assistance, determine whether HINDRAF was a partisan organization, or provide a travel document, but pledged to convey Moorthy's account of his status and the purpose of HINDRAF to Washington and American Embassy Kuala Lumpur.
11.(C/NF) As instructed in reftel, Poloff informed HMG (the FCO) that she had made contact with Moorthy.
12.(C/NF) COMMENT: It is too early to determine the accuracy of Moorthy's suspicion that HMG is stonewalling his political asylum application. The Home Office (which determines matters of political asylum) moves very slowly as a general rule. Consequently, what Moorthy might view as a "decision not to decide" may simply be bureaucratic inertia. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE
Posted by barred at 11:02 PM