Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hindraf 5 deny split in rank

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

malaysiakini| Jan 15, 08

The five detained leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) detention have denied that there is a split in their ranks.

Malaysiakini reported yesterday that Hindraf secretary T Vasantha Kumar had lodged a police report against legal adviser P Uthayakumar over supposed allegations of misuse of funds. However, the latter's lawyer N Surendran had urged caution over placing too much faith in such information.

The two, along with V Ganabatirau, M Manoharan and R Kenghadharan, are being held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the Kamunting camp in Perak.

Their joint denial was issued when they met today with their lawyers - M Kula Segaran, Karpal Singh, A Sivanesan, S Ponnumugam, M Manogran, T Kumar and Ram Karpal Singh.

In a statement signed by Kula Segaran, the five said: "We are not disunited, we will continue our fight (for betterment of the Indian Malaysian community) and will fast (from Jan 21-28)."

Specifically, the denial covers any suggestion that they are no longer on talking terms with one another or that "one or more of them will admit to (alleged terrorism charges)".

"They are resolved to fight (on) and have not wavered in any way from their demands to the government," Kula Segaran noted in the statement.

"Their detention without trial has put Malaysia on the world map as (a country) which does not respect human rights values. We hope the government will take steps to release (them) unconditionally as soon as possible."

According to the statement, the ISA Advisory Board met in Kamunting today to discussion the alleged terrorism charges against the Hindraf leaders, but adjourned the hearing to Feb 12.

Yusuf Sam (whose designation was not stated), who presided over the closed- door meeting, was assisted by two assessors. The internal security ministry was represented by legal adviser Abdul Wahab, while lawyers for the Hindraf 5 were present.

Complaints about conditions

The Hindraf leaders further protested the conditions under which they are being held, calling for immediate attention to their complaints that:

• They are being locked up in their cells for nearly 16 hours daily "like common criminals";

• The keys to their cells are kept some distance away in the administration block, thereby leading to potential delay in assistance in case of emergencies like a fire;

• They do not have access to television, computers or up-to-date books and magazines in the resource centre; and

• Vegetarians like Kengatheran do not get appropriate meals.

They also demanded more time with their families, who are only allowed a maximum of 45 minutes per visit and, even then, only in the presence of guards. Apart from wanting food from outside the camp, they want access to a temple for prayers.

The five reiterated their reasons for their forthcoming hunger strike, saying it is to protest their "unlawful and unconstitutional detention" since Dec 13, as well as to seek restoration of Indian rights and to "seek divine intervention".
Posted by JD 8:07 PM

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