Sunday, 9 December 2007

US Congress-Panel Concerned with Malaysian Government's Action Against Hindu Ethnic Minorities

From Aljazeera: Read here for more

Excerpts: Read here for more and HERE by AFP

Update: From NDTV-India

"...India on Friday said it had taken up with Malaysia the issue of alleged mistreatment of people of Indian origin in Kuala Lumpur but evaded a direct reply on reports of their links with terrorists.

''So far as the question of people of Indian origin in Malaysia is concerned, we have taken it up with the government there,'' India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters New Delhi.

On reported remarks of a Malaysian government official that the PIOs had links with a terror group, the minister said he had NOT seen the text of the said observation. ''So far, I have NOT seen the text of the observations made by the Malaysian government,'' Mukherjee said.

He said the terrorist activities by any citizen of any country are dealt with in accordance with international convention in that regard and all nations take appropriate action as per the law.

A police crackdown on a protest in Kuala Lumpur activists of NGO Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on November 25 set off a war of words among leaders of the two countries and culminated in India summonning the Malaysian envoy in New Delhi to lodge protest against the alleged discrimination.

A US congress-appointed Commission on International Religious Freedom has called for Malaysia to do more to protect sacred places and bring an end to alleged discrimination faced by the country's religious minorities.

The US panel urged the Bush administration to raise the matter with Malaysia's government and cited the destruction of Hindu temples as a particular cause for concern.

In its comments on Thursday the US commission said it was "concerned" by recent Malaysian government actions against the ethnic Indian Hindu minority "curtailing their human rights, including the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion".

Michael Cromartie, the commission chairman, said "continued discrimination against members of the ethnic Indian Hindu minority, including the destruction of sacred places and images, only fuels religious unrest and intolerance".

The US commission, a non-partisan panel appointed by the US president and leaders of Congress, noted that in late October, Malaysian authorities demolished a 100-year-old temple and reportedly assaulted its chief priest.

Just this week, another temple in Malacca state was demolished by local authorities despite having received a "stay order" from state officials, the commission said.

It asked the Bush administration to get an assurance from the Malaysian authorities that no charges would be filed against the organizers of the demonstrations.

"Malaysia should ensure that internationally protected rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion are protected," it said.

The commission also said that Kuala Lumpur's Islamic courts have expanded their jurisdiction in recent years, threatening secular Malaysia's civil courts and the country's commitment to religious pluralism.

"Because the (Malaysian) constitution deems that all Malays are Muslim, the sharia courts have weighed in on a number of high-profile cases involving conversion, marriage, divorce, child custody, and burial rights of non-Muslims," it said.

Related Article

From Reuters: Read here for more

A group of Malaysian lawyers demanding affirmative action for the country's ethnic Indians vowed on Friday to sue top police and legal officials who claimed it had ties to terrorists.

Malaysia has tried to paint the group, the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, in terrorist colours after it organised a rare protest by 10,000 ethnic Indians last month. Malaysia's police chief said it was trying to provoke racial clashes.

Police chief Musa Hassan this week accused Hindraf of seeking assistance from terrorist groups.

"Of late there have been indications that Hindraf is trying to seek support and help from terrorist groups," Musa told state news agency Bernama late on Thursday.

But Hindraf dismissed the accusation as ridiculous, saying it was pursuing its objectives by legal, peaceful means.

The group's legal adviser, P Uthayakumar said Musa's remarks echoed courtroom comments by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail linking the group to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, and dared both officials to produce evidence of their claims.

Uthayakumar added:
"Technically,what they said is slander and criminal defamation.

I'm going to file a civil suit against the attorney-general and the chief of police, because then they will be forced to produce the evidence in court."

They're bankrupt of ideas to punish us. They've no more bullets to fire so they're firing this at us.

It's like killing a fly with a sledgehammer, because we're so small."
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said the police chief's accusation showed the government was escalating its position of denial.

"It will be Malaysia's misfortune and tragedy if the government's sole concern is to indiscriminately demonise the Hindraf leaders."

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