Reporters Without Borders hails the 9 May release of 13 members of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), including P. Uthayakumar, a human rights lawyer who had been held since 13 December 2007 in Kamunting prison (northeast of Kuala Lumpur) under the Internal Security Act.
Uthayakumar was arrested for writing to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 15 November 2007 and then posting the letter on his website (http:// www.policewatchmalaysia.com). He and the other HINDRAF activists were released on the orders of the interior ministry.
12.12.2008 - Call for release of Hindu minority lawyer arrested a year ago under security law
Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Malaysian human rights lawyer P. Uthayakumar, who has been held since 13 December 2007 at Kamunting prison (northeast of Kuala Lumpur) under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for posting a letter he wrote to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on his website (http:// www.policewatchmalaysia.com).
“Uthayakumar’s detention yet again shows to what degree the ISA is used to violate the principle of free expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By allowing someone to be arrested and held without charge, this law enables the government to silence its opponents. We urge the authorities to release Uthayakumar, who just used his right to free speech.”
Uthayakumar was arrested under article 8 of the ISA, which says: “If the [interior] minister is satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to the maintenance of essential services therein or the economic life thereof, he may make an order directing that person be detained for any period not exceeding two years.” The detention order can be renewed indefinitely.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard wrote to the British prime minister on 3 November asking him “to intercede as quickly as possible and to press for Mr. Uthayakumar’s release.” The 10 Downing Street staff told Reporters Without Borders that the prime minister had “taken note of his request.”
In his letter to Brown, dated 15 November 2007, Uthayakumar asked him to support a UN security council resolution condemning the Malaysian government’s “atrocities” and “persecution” of the country’s Hindu minority and referring the case to the International Criminal Court.
Urging Brown to act on behalf of Malaysia’s Hindus, Uthayakumar wrote that: “Since independence in 1957, the Malaysian Indians have been permanently colonialised by the Islamic fundamentalists and Malay chauvinists of the (...) government.” He also wrote that: “Every week one [Hindu-minority] person on average is killed in a shoot-to-kill policy and every two weeks one person is killed in police custody.”
Aged 47, Uthayakumar has been campaigning for more than 10 years on behalf of Malaysia’s Hindu minority and trying to alert public opinion about the deaths of Hindus in detention.