Hindraf, Sabah and S'wak activists take human rights case to US, Europe
An ad hoc apolitical human rights movement has been making the rounds of several American and European cities this month, flogging its case on alleged human rights violations in Malaysia against the Indian community, the underclass in particular, and other marginalized and disenfranchised groups in the country.
The lobbying was spearheaded by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi in association with the United Kingdom-based Human Rights Foundation Malaysia (HuRiFoM).
At the European meetings, activists from Sabah and Sarawak as well as The Sarawak Report website and Radio Free Sarawak co-founders – Clare Rewcastle Brown and Peter John – were also present.
“The purpose of our visits was to hold briefings and also convey three specific requests to the US Government,” said Hindraf chair P Waythamoorthy in a telephone call last night from London.
“The visits were also to lay the groundwork for May/June meetings in Washington and one in Brussels at the European Parliament in Sept.”
The Washington discussions, stressed Waytha, was the follow-up to a letter to the Malaysian King on Mar 21.
3 specific requests
Waytha disclosed the three specific requests as viz. the US Government to send a delegation of Senate and Congress members on a fact-finding mission to Malaysia; the US to make representations to the Malaysian Government to ratify and respect all UN Human Rights Conventions; and the US to make representations to the Malaysian Government to enact laws to protect minority rights and freedom of religion.
The briefings in Washington, according to Waytha, included seven stops for meetings with the Senate and House of Representatives.
The other stops included the State Department, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos Commission, and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The American officials received a copy of the Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2010,” said Waytha. “We will be releasing the report to the public soon after lodging copies officially with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”
The presentations in Washington, continued Waytha, also touched on the “continuing persecution” of the Christians in Malaysia and denial of fundamental religious rights to other non-Muslim groups.
Specific acts brought to the attention of the US officials were the government’s ban on the printing of the Bible in Malay, the use of the term Allah and many other terms by Christians, and the difficulties faced by mission schools and in building places of worship including by Orang Asli Christians, he added.
“It’s an open secret that the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, the natives, continue to be marginalized and disenfranchised,” said Waytha.
“The US Government has been urged to study the continuing influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah and their placement on the electoral rolls through backdoor methods. There are international laws against such practices.”
Another particular case cited, disclosed the Hindraf chief, was the building of a statue in Kudat to the Goddess of the Sea – Mazu – which had to be aborted after the state government stepped in and halted the project.
The thrust of the April presentations in Washington, acknowledged Waytha, focused on the Hindu and Indian community in Malaysia and took in as well the increasing encroachment of Syariah law and the Syariah courts, “inferior” establishments under the Federal Constitution, into the jurisdiction of the civil courts and secular life.
Again, the reference point was the Mar 21 letter to the King, said Waytha, and the Hindraf 2010 Report.
“We can’t stand idly by and allow the creeping Islamisation of Malaysia to go on in violation of the Federal Constitution and its secular nature,” he said.
“We have to do something about such illegal activities before the situation further worsens and reaches a point of no return.”
Hindraf has so far this month held human rights briefings at the Netherlands Parliament in Amsterdam on April 18, the Belgium Parliament in Brussels on April 19, at the United Nations in Geneva on April 20 and an informal briefing in London last weekend.
Besides Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and Washington in the first half of April, the earlier meetings in the United States also took place in Florida before Europe.
Hindraf was accompanied at the European meetings by activists from Sabah and Sarawak, and The Sarawak Report website and Radio Free Sarawak co-founders, Clare Rewcastle Brown and Peter John.
The Common Interest Group Malaysia (CigMA) chairman Daniel John Jambun and the movement’s organizing secretary, Kanul Gindol, represented Sabah at the European meetings initiated by Hindraf. CigMA Advisor Jeffrey Kitingan, according to Jambun, endorsed their trip.
Jambun is also HuRiFoM Advisor while Gindol is its Borneo Director besides working on Sabah versions of The Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak