Sunday, 25 November 2007

Hindraf called off handing over of petition

Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) has called off the handing over of its petition to the British High Commission indefinitely following police action that broke up a huge gathering in the city that lasted seven hours.

A. Sivanesan, one of the lawyers representing Hindraf, said this at Hotel Nikko, Jalan Ampang, on Sunday at about noon.

After gathering for about four hours, Hindraf leaders and supporters were not able to get to the High Commission to hand over the petition.

The Star reports that large groups were seen gathering at Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak from as early as 6.30am Sunday.

The crowds were broken up when police fired water cannons and teargas at them. The gathering, organised by Hindraf, had hoped to hand over the petition to the British High Commission.

The petition to the British Commission asks for Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen's counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British Government for bringing Indians as indentured labourers to then Malaya and exploiting them.




Malaysiakini reported that about 30,000 protesters demonstrated under the shadows of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Twin Towers after their efforts to petition the British High Commission was thwarted by the police with tear gas and chemical-laced water cannon.

Hours before the protest was due to take place, the police had already begun firing tear gas and chemical-laced water to disperse crowds in three areas in Kuala Lumpur.

The police fired a volley of tear gas at Jalan Ampang at about 7.40am to disperse a large crowd who had gathered there. The area has been declared a curfew zone by the police, who issued an ‘arrest on sight’ order.

Earlier, the police also used tear gas to disperse a crowd which gathered at Batu Caves and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) areas.

Thousands of Indians from all around the country have been arriving in Kuala Lumpur since last night despite police's warning that the gathering was illegal and roadblocks set up to seal off the city..

Some of the protesters were already at Jalan Ampang near Hotel Nikko and Ampang Park - a stone throw away from the British High Commission - early this morning. Despite repeated firing of chemical-laced water against the 2,000-strong crowd, the protestors appeared defiant and refused to budge.

However, by 8.30am the police succeeded in forcing the crowd to move out of the area, many of whom were already congregating near the National Heart Institute along Jalan Tun Razak.

Another group which had gathered near Tabung Haji building was pushed back by the volleys of police tear gas to near the United States embassy further down Jalan Tun Razak.

The police numbering about 1,000 had cleared most of area in the vicinity of Ampang Park and the British High Commission of protestors by 9am.

By 9.30am there were already 10,000 in KLCC. The protesters were split into three major groups - about 3,000 south of Jalan Tun Razak with the police pushing the crowd back into Jalan Kia Peng and Jalan Bukit Bintang.

Another 3,000 were gathered north of Jalan Tun Razak near the National Heart Institute. Many of the protesters were moving to KLCC to join the third group.

The crowd in KLCC had, by then, surged to between 10,000 and 15,000 - a mix of young and old from all parts of the country where they were being addressed by Hindraf leaders, including P Uttayakumar. The police fired tear gas into the defiant crowd every 10 minutes.

Police presence was heavy. The stretch of Jalan Ampang near the British High Commission was completely closed to traffic. Also closed were two LRT (light rail transit) stations near the area - the Ampang Park and KLCC stations.

At 1pm, after negotiations with the police, Uttayakumar gave a short speech and urged the crowd to disperse peacefully. The crowd did and walked back towards Jalan Sultan Ismail, away from the High Commission.

Soon after police reopened Jalan Ampang which had been closed to traffic since 8am.

The Hindraf Rally is the second demonstration to be held in Kuala Lumpur within a period of two weeks. On Nov 10, tens of thousands of people marched peacefully to Istana Negara to submit a royal petition for electoral reform.

Organized by BERSIH, the 10-Eleven March went ahead without police permit and despite a warning (saya pantang dicabar) from Prime Minister Datuk Abbdullah Badawi and the IGP, Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

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Read An observation of the Hindraf rally by Harris Ibrahim, who wrote yesterday why he would not lend his support to the rally, but "walked" today as a member of the Bar monitoring team, here
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Also Al Jazeera's report, here
Shanghaifish’s Democracy ala-Malaysia here
And, Zorro's A Sunday Walk with My Brothers and Sisters, here

Photos: courtesy of Nat Tan of jelas.info

13 comments:

Husin Lempoyang said...

I commend yo-yo-your journalists trying to project... to exaggerate more than what actually happened. That-that-that-that's it. We are not the-the and I-I congratulate your journalists behaving like an actor, that-that's it...

You've been trying... trying to do it this - to do this everywhere but in Malaysia people are allowed to, you know? We know our police head our colleague... Police have whatever allowed the procession to go to the Istana Negara, you know? Do police, first police, like, they handle them, they attack them, they... the police don't, don't, don't fire anybody?

You-you-you-you are here with the idea, you are trying to project, what is your mind! You think that we Pakistan, we are Burma, we are Myanmar. Everything you-you are thinking! WE ARE DIFFERENT! We are totally different!

Ya ya we are not like you! You-you have earlier perception, you come here, you want to project us like undemocratic country. This a democratic country!

YES, PEOPLE PROTEST! People do-do... of course they protest. We are allowing them protest, and they have demonstrated. But we just trying to disperse them, and then later they-they-they don't wanna disperse, but later our police compromise. They have compromised and allowed them to proceed to British Hicomm! Police, our police have succeeded in handling them gently, right? Why do you report that? You take the opposition, someone from opposition party you ask him to speak. You don't take from the government, right?

Pardon? Pardon? Pardon?

I can't hear you! I can't hear you!

No we-we are! We... this protest is illegal! We don't want..this... the... NORMALLY...

YA! It's a illegal protest because we have the erection in Malaysia. It's no-no point on having a protest! We are allowing to every erection... every five years never fail! We are not our like, like Myanmar, not like other country. And, and you are helping this. You Tok mommy also is helping this, this forces. The, you know, these forces who are not in passion, who don't believe in democracy!

I don't, ya, you, Tok mommy , this is, is Tok mommy attitude. Right?

Zamalingam
Your MIC-representatiuve in the Ministry of Information

Shimi Lara said...

Kak Ton, I hope that cool heads and rational minds will prevail at all times. At least this time we spared the embarassment of Zam's response to Al Jazeera and the insult on our intelligence by RTM repeated broadcast of our Information Minister's faux pas to impress the rakyat.

But I feel strongly about Hindraf. I've posted by response at Rocky's and would like to repost it here.

"Rocky, I watched the AlJazeera videoclip and noted that the reporter said the demonstration has turned out to be one against the Malaysian government.

Galadriel commented earlier that: "Believe me, like the multitude of Indians who gathered there (who were told, they broke our temples, come let's go show them), the cops also didn't know what it was about."

So what the hell is going on here? Didn't the Hindraf apply for permit to submit a memorandum to the British High Commissioner on their claims against the Queen?

Mob rule is not something we should be proud of. If the participants who came all the way were mislead and fired up based on communal and religious grounds, it could have turned violent. Is this something Hindraf intended? Grab more media attention wouldn't it?

What did the march prove? That you can mobilise thousands of Malaysians on ethnic and religious grounds? That means I can join any Malay or Chinese-led demonstrations because I am of mixed race. Do I want to sue the Queen for bringing my ancestors here from China? No, because they left China to escape poverty, to escape famine. They left to find work and to earn money so they could keep their families in China from starving. When they came here they found Malaya a land of opportunity, they married the Malays and became Muslims. They no longer call China home.

Did my Malays ancestors demonstrate and march to get rid of my Chinese ancestors? No! Instead they welcomed them, they let them work this land and share in it's good fortunes. In fact they loved them and married them. I am grateful to my Malay ancestors. I consider myself Malay and Malaysian. I don't hate the Chinese nor do I hate the Indians. They are my relatives, friends and neighbours.

If you ask me why don't you go back to China? I won't because I don't know anyone there. Malaysia is my home and my roots are here. I am many generations removed. What happens to Malaysia in the here and now is what will happen to me here, not what happens in China.

So that is why I am saddend and confused with Hindraf. We can rally hundreds, thousands and even millions to march for whatever reasons. But at what price? I also heard Al-Jazeera's McDonald signing off: "Sunday's demonstration showed that peace sometimes have to be imposed".

March for whatever rights you feel you have been deprived off but don't mislead anyone to join you. Not unless your cause lacks integrity, is devoid of credibility and your intentions less than sincere. As a Malaysian I don't want another 13 May. Never again! My vote is for peace and unity!"

Tembam

Zawi said...

kak ton,
Personally I think we must be selective in the causes that we need to demonstrate to make it meaningful. All causes must be supported by all ethnics and religious group and not seen as one championing for a particular ethnic group of our society.
Shimi lara was spot on in denouncing the action by Hindraf as we will soon see the government using that as an example of unruly demonstration hindering the organization of future gatherings for a much suitable cause.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

aunty maria,

i know what you did last sunday....

no, you werent part of the rally but instead at your neighbour's wedding. hihi...was told by uncle khashim you and uncle R were the early birds. i had hoped to meet you guys but only arrived after 1pm. oh well...

maria a samad (kak ton) said...

Hi everyone : Husin lempoyang, tembam & Zawi,

I agree with shimi lara & Zawi.

My stand is this:: I would gladly give my support to defend the rights of any ethnic group.
But I would be hesitant to join or take part in any movement whose fight is based solely on race and religion.

I believe, the power is in our hands. THE answer lies in the ballot box.

maria a samad (kak ton) said...

Hi Kerp,

Yes, uncle Roslani was looking for you because he says you know the groom.

But we went early , at noon.

Sorry we missed you.

U coming today?

kamal said...

Kak Ton,

I share the sentiments of tembam and Zawi.

And I agree with you too.

To submit the petition, why couldn’t the organizers just send a delegation to the High Commisison? Why organize a rally calling thousands of Indians to join?

At the end of the day, they failed to deliver the memo. But the damage has already been done.

Uthayakumar was asked in an interview on Aljazeera what he was going to do next. He said they going to send a delegation to London to submit the petition to the Queen.

Ayoh, why didn’t they think of this in the first place?

The 10-Eleven March was an entirely different fight which I fully support and endorsed.

But Hindraf Rally? This is something else.

bergen said...

The rally was a big mistake.

orang lama said...

The Only victor/winner is UMNO. Umno might just win a bigger majority, especially in the rural areas. Now the Malays, especailly the simple rural folks, feel threatened at the sight of 20,000 Indians on the street fighting for their rightful place in the country.

They are going to unite, I tell you. There is no way they are going to vote for the Opposition.

There goes down the drain the work of BERSIH and those championing the creation of Bangsa Malaysia - with just one stupid rally.

Mistake. Big mistake!

Zawi said...

Kak Ton,
pohon laluan,
Orang Lama, you are spot on. This is the problem when you have such people leading a bunch of hyped up mob giving them hope for making instant riches based on a prophesy that Britain is rich enough to pay anybody a sum that they cant even afford to pay their own people.
Bersih's good work flushed down the drain.

anak muda said...

kak ton,

This is what I've posted at rocky'sbru which am reposting here.

===================================

You think you have won the war?

Think again.

You've undone the good effort of those who are working towards a Bangsa Malaysia.

You have given the BN Govt the justification to clamp down on future rallies like the walk for Justice and the 10-Eleven March.

The BN is gonna win because the Malays who otherwise have leaned towards the Opposition are having second thoughts.

You put fear in their hearts - in my heart.

7:55 AM

puteri said...

kak ton

I've come from kak ena's and was taken in by her latest TWB's "multi-colour".

As someone wrote over there, the entry was absolutely perfect.

I think he said that in view of the latest development in the country.

Like I told her, she has friends from all races. So do you and yr brother, Abg Med. And am sure your other siblings too.

That tells a lot about the way you have been brought up by your parents.

I could see that your upbringing has moulded you and your siblings into what you are.

Unfortunately, I dont see that happening among kids nowdays. They tend to socialise among their "own kind".

It is sad. I wonder why. Something is just not right.

orang lama said...

Kak ton,

Ini bukan hendakk mengapi-apikan atau mengeruhkan lagi keadaan. Tetapi seorang poster telah mengahantar posting di bawah ini kepada blog zorro-unmask untuk menunjukkan perbandingan keadaan hidup kaum India di India berbandingkan dengan kaum lain di negara tersebut.

Saya repostkan posting itu untuk para pembaca di blog Tok Mommy. Bacalah & renongkanlah bersama.

Kavitha said...

I believe ethnic Indians in Malaysia still enjoy more rights than Indian citizens who is living in their own country. India accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s poor and its fiscal deficit is one of the highest in the world. Almost half of Indian women are still illiterate; about 40 million primary school-age children are not in school.

Indian workers form the third largest foreign work force in Malaysia, with 140,000 of them seeking out a living there.

According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion. Hindus numbered 827 million or 80.5 %. About 25 per cent, or 24 million, of those Hindus belong to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent, or 400 million, are “Other Backward Castes”. 15 per cent belonging to the three upper castes. Dominant group of Hindu nationalists come from the three upper castes who constitute about 10 per cent of the total Indian population but controle the civil service and economy. And thus the caste system virtually leaves lower caste Hindus to an oppressed minority.

About 20 per cent, or 200 million, are religious minorities. Muslims constitutes 138 million or 13.4 per cent, Christians 24 million or 2.3 per cent, Sikhs 19 million or 2 per cent, Buddhists 8 million or 0.8 per cent and Jains 4 million or 0.4 per cent. “Others” numbered 6.6 million or 0.6 per cent. Christians provided education at all levels to other religious groups without prosyletisation. According to Tahir Mahmoud, an Indian Muslim journalist, “The 2.3 per cent Christians in the Indian population cater to 20 per cent of all primary education in India, 10 per cent of all the literacy and community health care, 25 per cent of all existing care of destitutes and orphans, 30 per cent of all the handicapped, lepers and AIDS patients etc”.

1.38 billion.Muslims across India are severely under-represented in government employment, including PSUs. Ironically, West Bengal, a communist ruled state reported 0 (zero) percent of Muslims in higher positions in its PSUs. A Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, compared to the national average of four years. Less than two percent of the students at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology comprise of the Muslim community. ( Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee)

According to the National Human Rights Commission, as on 30th June 2004, there were 3,32,112 prisoners in Indian jails out of which 2,39,146 were under trial prisoners. That’s more than 70 per cent. India’s jails hold a disproportionate number of the country’s minority Muslims, a sign of discrimination and alienation from the Hindu majority.

Hindu upper caste men, who constitute just eight per cent of the total population of India, hold over 70 per cent of the key posts across newsrooms in the country. The so-called twice-born Hindu castes dominate 85 per cent key posts despite constituting just 16 per cent of the total population, while the intermediary castes a represent meagre three per cent.

The Hindu Other Backward Class groups, who are 34 per cent of the total population, have a share of just four per cent in the Indian newsrooms. Muslims, who constitute about 13 per cent of the population, control just 4 per cent top posts while Christians and Sikhs have a slightly better representation. But the worst scenario emerges in the case of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) : Based on CSDS study, 2006

India’s subordinate courts have a backlog of over 22 million cases while the 21 high courts and the Supreme Court have 3.5 million and 32,000 pending cases (2006) There were 13 judges for every million people. Merely 7.8% Muslim employees working in Judicial sector of 12 high-Muslim population states surveyed by Sachar Panel.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, India has the highest number of street children in the world. There are no exact numbers, but conservative estimates suggest that about 18 million children live and labor in the streets of India’s urban centers. Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta each have an estimated street-children population of over 100,000.

The level of child malnutrition in India is among the highest in the world, higher even than some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, says the report ‘Extent of Chronic Hunger and Malnutrition in India’ by the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food (2006)

When it comes to Human Rights issues in India, it is not ratified the Convention against Torture, its citizens do not have the opportunity to find recourse in remedies that are available under international law. The victims are trapped with the local Hindu caste system, which in every aspect militates against their rights. Many victims conclude that a justice system accessible to the poor of the land does not exist at all.

RSS is the Hindu-supremacist organization that has fueled a rise in anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Sikh violence. . The former ruling party, the BJP is the political arm of the RSS and helped fascism to spread across civil, defence and educational steams of the society. The caste system and the fact that the government machinery is basically controlled by this Hindu-centric group means that violence against vicitims largely goes unpunished.

I believe HINDRAF and Uthay Kumar is closely associated with RSS, a Hindu Taliban who spoil India’s social fabric with fascist ideas. Let us not forget that, Malaysia’s ethnic Indians are mostly from Indian state of Tamil Nadu, an impoverished land lagging with illiteracy and feudalism. The poverty in Tamil Nadu, compelled them to move Sri Lanka, where they are now in war with their hosts, Sinhalese.

Do the ethnic Indians in Malaysia want to come back to India? I bet none of them want to come back to India. Instead of asking for more rights they should try to learn to respect their hosts, the Malaysian people. Only such an attitude will bring them prosperity. Let them not forget the poor and impoverished indian citizens living in their own country.

November 29, 2007 8:40 PM