Friday, January 4, 2008

Hindraf leader Uthayakumar sues Malaysia govt over terror accusation

Ethnic Indian protest leader sues Malaysia's government over terror accusation

The Associated Press
Friday, January 4, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: An ethnic Indian protest leader filed a US$28 million (€19 million) defamation suit against Malaysia's government Friday for claiming his group had possible terrorist links.

Lawyers for P. Uthayakumar, a leader of the Hindu Right Action Force, or Hindraf, filed the suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court seeking damages totaling at least 100 million ringgit (US$28 million; €19 million) from the government, the national police chief and the attorney general.

Uthayakumar was suing the government because it "attempted to blacken his reputation globally" with the claims of terror links, said N. Surendran, a lawyer involved in the case.

"They have not produced a shred of evidence to prove their claim," Surendran said.
Senior government and police officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The suit stemmed from what Uthayakumar — who is currently jailed without trial for allegedly threatening national security — called "a campaign of vilification and demonization" launched by authorities, according to the lawsuit documents.
Government and police officials had said last month that Hindraf was being investigated for possible ties to terrorism, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka. The LTTE has been branded a terror group by the United States and European Union.

The accusations came amid a crackdown on Hindraf after it organized a rally of about 30,000 ethnic Indians on Nov. 25 to protest the community's economic plight and alleged racial discrimination by the Malay majority government.

The protest was crushed by police with tear gas and water cannons.

Uthayakumar and four other Hindraf leaders were subsequently detained under security laws that allow indefinite detention without trial.

Hindraf has tried to highlight what it claims is racial discrimination faced by ethnic Indians, who form 8 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people. Malays, who are Muslims, make up about 60 percent of the population, and ethnic Chinese account for a quarter.

Many Indians say the Malay-dominated government does not give them a fair chance to get jobs and education. They also complain their temples are being systematically destroyed. The government has repeatedly rejected claims of any discrimination.

Hindu activist sues Malaysia govt over terror claims: lawyer
4 hours ago

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — A Hindu rights activist Friday filed a 100-million-ringgit (30.5-million-dollar) libel suit against the Malaysian government for allegedly linking him to terror groups, his counsel said.

M. Manogar said the suit was filed in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on behalf of P. Uthayakumar who is being held along with four others under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial.

The suit also names police chief Musa Hassan and attorney general Abdul Gani Patail, the counsel said.

"Both the police chief and the attorney general have gone on record to announce that Uthayakumar is a threat to national security because of his links with terrorist organisations.

"Where is the evidence? If there is any evidence, charge Uthayakumar in the open court. Uthayakumar is claiming 100 million ringgit for defamation," Manogar told AFP.
The five leaders of rights group Hindraf were detained after they enraged the government in November by leading a mass rally protesting at alleged discrimination against minority ethnic Indians in Malaysia.

They are being held at the Kamunting detention centre in northern Perak state, some 300 kilometres (190 miles) from Kuala Lumpur.

Police used tear gas, water cannon and baton charges to break up the Hindraf street protest which drew 8,000 people, and came just two weeks after another rare demonstration organised by electoral reform campaigners.

Religious and racial issues are sensitive in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.

Denies LTTE link, sues Malaysia

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: P. Uthayakumar, detained leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force, on Friday filed a defamation suit against Malaysian authorities for having portrayed him as an activist with links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The suit was filed at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur through a law firm, while Hindraf Chairman P. Waytha Moorthy vowed to “continue” its “peaceful struggle for the rights of the minority [ethnic] Indians” in Malaysia.

Mr. Waytha Moorthy, now camping in London, told The Hindu over the telephone that the Hindraf struggle would “continue to the end.” He was seeking to set the record straight after he was quoted in some sections of the media as having said the Hindraf was fighting a losing battle that might be called off soon.

Mr. Uthayakumar, who was arrested along with four other Hindraf leaders under Malaysia’s tough Internal Security Act (ISA) on December 13 last year, sought damages to the tune of 100 million Malaysian ringgit. Mr. Waytha Moorthy clarified, over the telephone, that Mr. Uthaykumar had filed the suit “only for himself” and not on behalf of Hindraf. The two are brothers.

As Legal Adviser to Hindraf, Mr. Uthayakumar was representing several “supporters” of the group in a case of alleged rioting, when Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail first spoke of a suspected LTTE link. The Sessions Court judge did not record that submission by the Attorney-General.

Noting that the judge had “expunged” the remark, Mr. Uthayakumar told The Hindu from Kuala Lumpur in early December that Hindraf had never fashioned links with the LTTE.

In his suit now, he cited not only the Attorney-General but also Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan and the Malaysian government for “defaming” him as a “terrorist” intending to overthrow it. Mr. Uthayakumar had, before his detention without any charges, written a letter asking for apologies from the authorities.

Meanwhile, Mr. Waytha Moorthy said the “people power” of Malaysian Indians was now in focus. However, “the ultimate power” lay in the hands of the government, and the “reality” was that the Malaysian Indians “cannot form a government to change [their] situation.” It was, therefore, the “responsibility” of the Malaysian government to “make the necessary changes in the interest of the minority [ethnic] Indian community.”

He said Hindraf would yet organise “various peaceful protests throughout the country to highlight the plight of the 70 per cent poor underclass Malaysian Indian society” A Malaysian Sessions Court agreed to the prosecution’s plea for a collective trial of 54 persons charged on various counts for having participated in the Hindraf’s November 25 rally in Kuala Lumpur.

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