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Monday, February 28, 2011

Hindraf hails rally a great success

Hindraf says it has evidence to show the police have been brutal to the Indian community during the Feb 27 protest.

KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi hailed its planning for the Feb 27 anti-racism rally at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) as a great success.

The ad hoc apolitical human rights movement dismissed the police claim that they had thwarted the rally “as a mixture of outright lies, half-truths and propaganda”.

“We have documented enough evidence to show how brutal the police and Umno can be,” said Hindraf man P Waytha Moorthy early today from London from where he stage-managed the Feb 27 event via the Internet.

He was commenting on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s statement to the press last night that Hindraf was out to paint the country in a bad light abroad and that it was an unlawful organisation.

Najib has been reported as also saying separately that the Indian community did not need Hindraf.

Waytha Moorthy said that Najib was trying to link the country with the fate of his party, Umno, “which was responsible for racism, racial prejudice and racial polarisation”.

He also dismissed Najib’s claims that Hindraf Makkal Sakthi was an unlawful organisation.

Explaining the status of his movement, Waytha Moorthy claimed that Hindraf was declared unlawful in late 2008 even before the Registrar of Societies responded to its application for registration as a human rights society.

Movement’s legitimacy

The “banned” Hindraf, according to him, has now been replaced by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi which is pending registration. The so-called ban on Hindraf, he added, doesn’t apply to Hindraf Makkal Sakthi.

“Late last year, we held our first national convention at the Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur,” said Waytha Moorthy.

“Why didn’t the police stop our national convention then on the grounds of it being an unlawful organisation?”

He reminded the press and police that Umno had been declared unlawful by the Kuala Lumpur High Court and that the Umno Baru which replaced it had long since ceased to be active.

Waytha Moorthy denied that he was getting into semantics. Instead, he urged that the media focus on Umno and not question his movement’s legitimacy.

“We don’t deny that we are after Umno. We are determined to expose the evil that this party has become in the country,” said Waytha Moorthy, citing the controversial novel Interlok as an example. “Umno is a menace to Malaysia and the future of us all.”

As an example, the Hindraf chief pointed at the racial profiling of Indians by the police and their behaviour towards the community as a manifestation of the deep-seated racist mindset of the Umno government.

“As our various live feeds and video hook-ups of Feb 27 show, the police did not conduct themselves with respect towards the Indian community and the handicapped,” said Waytha Moorthy. “They went after any Indian, mostly innocent ones, found within the vicinity of KLCC.”

He asked whether it was the policy of the government to deny Indians even the right to wait at a bus stop to take a ride to wherever they were headed.

International community

Asked what Hindraf intended to do with the evidence it had gathered on the Feb 27 rally, Waytha Moorthy said that his NGO intended to present it to the international community.

“We will work closely with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and human rights defenders,” said Waytha Moorthy. “They recognise us although the Malaysian government keeps saying that we are an unlawful organisation.”

Post-Feb 27, Hindraf’s first order of business would be to seek a meeting with Najib to present him with the report on the proceedings of a conference it held in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 23.

The meeting, which focused on the marginalised, disenfranchised communities and minorities in Malaysia, also drew participation from the Orang Asli and representatives from Sabah and Sarawak.

“Najib wants us to send him another memorandum on our problems. So, we will send him the Jan 23 report,” said Waytha Moorthy. “He’s still sitting on our memorandum from last year on our 18-point demand and the list of over 100 problems besetting the community.”

Hindraf plans to hold a series of rallies nationwide calling for “an end to Umno’s racism”. Waytha Moorthy declined to disclose when and where the next anti-Umno racism rally will be held.

“Interlok is a manifestation of the racism of Umno,” said Waytha Moorthy. “We will not be deterred. We will risk detention and arrests. We are prepared to fill all the police lock-ups in the country.”

The Hindraf chief does not rule out a situation where the police would have to stop fighting crime and just watch Hindraf all the time. - FMT

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