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Friday, April 29, 2011

Hindraf moves to get charge against 54 dropped

Named as defendants in the civil suit to be filed next month include PM Najib, AG Gani Patail and IGP Ismail Omar.

GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti will file a suit at the KL Hight Court next month to strike off a charge against 54 of its activists of ‘being members of an illegal society’.

It is seeking to obtain a declaration that the charge is ultra vires of Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution, which allows freedom of association.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail and IGP Ismail Omar are to be named as defendants in the civil suit.

Hindraf legal advisor P Uthayakumar said the suit would also cite other constitutional grounds such as equality before the law to declare the charge as “null and void.”

“The charge against so many of us is obviously a government attempt to foil our cause to champion minority rights in the country.

“But we won’t be cowed by such criminal intimidation. We will fight on,” said Uthayakumar.

Hindraf national secretary P Ramesh and Human Rights Party (HRP) pro-tem information chief S Jayathas, were among those charged after a crackdown in March.

The charge was under the Societies Act 1966. Hindraf has thus far spent about RM111,000 to bail out all the activists pending hearing.

Nationwide fundraisers

The movement was declared an illegal organisation by the home ministry in late 2008. However, the government has no court declaration to this effect.

Dublin-based human rights movement, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders or Frontline, stated that Malaysia had created a world record in being the first and only democracy to charge 54 human rights activists from a single organisation for the same allegation within the same period.

Apart from the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, Frontline said that Malaysia is the only country in the world to have charged so many citizens for being members of a NGO.

The activists were charged following an aborted anti-racism march on Feb 20.

Meanwhile, Hindraf / HRP will organise a nationwide roadshow starting tomorrow in Parit Buntar to raise funds for the movements and finance the legal costs of the charged activists.

Tomorrow’s fundraiser in Parit Buntar will be followed in Ipoh, Kluang, Cameron Highlands, Sitiawan and Hutan Melintang.

“More fund raising dinners will be arranged soon to finance our rising costs,” said Uthayakumar, who is also HRP protem secretary-general.

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