Friday, March 4, 2011

41 more HRP members face court charges

(Malaysiakini) A total of 41 members from the Human Rights Party (HRP) were charged today in magistrate courts in Kuala Lumpur and Seremban with taking part in an illegal organisation.
The charges were laid as leaders and members of the HRP were organising a convoy under the banned Hindraf Movement.
HRP members were organising convoys nationally to protest against the use of novel Interlok in schools.
In Kuala Lumpur, 21 HRP members, 16 men and five women, two of them university students, were accused of committing the offence under Section 43 of the Societies Act 1996, by taking part in an HRP-organised convoy at Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields, on Feb 13.

The prosecution was led by DPP Hazariah Siri and all 21 accused were represented by lawyers M Raman and P Uthayakumar, who is also HRP's secretary-general.

NONEUthayakumar (right) said that the 21 charged in Kuala Lumpur pleaded not guilty and were released on RM2,000 bail each.

April 6 has been fixed for mention of the case, he said.

Among the 21 are HRP Kuala Lumpur coordinator K Balakrishnan and central executive committee members V Lurdge Mary and S Thiagarajah.

Uthayakumar told Malaysiakini that Lurdge was harassed and humiliated by police early this morning, about which he made an official complaint to magistrate Zulkply Abdullah.

"At 2am today, my client (Lurdge) called me in a state of panic as the police knocked on her door, demanding that she go to the station with them.

"How could this happen? Why are the police intimidating us? Intimidating her like that? After all, she had already agreed to turn up in court today. She had informed an investigating officer that she will be attending court this evening...

"So, why create the commotion?" Uthayakumar asked.
20 charged in Seremban
In Seremban, 20 HRP members, 15 men and five women, were also charged with a similar offence in a magistrate's court.

Among them was Negri Sembilan HRP coordinator S Sivakumar.

They are alleged to have committed the offence under Section 43 of the Societies Act 1996 while partipating in an HRP-organised convoy at Jalan Rahang, Seremban, on Feb 13.

NONEThe prosecution was led by DPP Mahmood Abdullah and all 20 were represented by lawyers S Karthigesan, E Ramasamy and Norliana Ali Othman.

Contacted by Malaysiakini, Karthigesan said all of them pleaded not guilty and were released on bail of RM1,700 each.

April 11 has been set for mention of the case, he added.

Karthigesan also said a husband and wife were absent from the Seremban magistrate's court today due to illness and they would be charged at a later date.

On Tuesday, five HRP leaders and members were also charged with similar offences at a magistrate's court in Selayang, but they refused to post bail, which was set at RM2,500.

Yesterday, six more pleaded not guilty to similar charges at a magistrate's court in Ipoh, and were released on RM2,000 bail each.

The six are Perak HRP chief P Ramesh, vice-president S Nagroon, Taiping coordinator K Sivakumar, and three members, R Mohan, S Jayakumar and V Lingam.

On Feb 13, 59 HRP members and supporters in Selangor, Perak and Kuala Lumpur were arrested for being part of a nationwide convoy to protest against the novel Interlok, which is used in secondary schools as a Malay literature textbook.

Controversy ballooned following the Education Ministry's decision to use the novel, written by national laureate Abdullah Hussein, for Form Five students, with several parties claiming it contains words insensitive to the Chinese and Indian communities.

Indian NGOs decry the book's description of Indians in Malaysia as being from the lower caste, among other racial stereotyping.