2007 HINDRAF rally

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The 2007 HINDRAF rally was a rally held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 25 November 2007. The rally organiser, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays. The rally was the second such street protest after the 2007 Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on 10 November 2007.

The rally started when a crowd estimated to be between 5,000 to 30,000[1] people gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers at midnight, early Sunday morning.

At least 240 people were detained, but half of them were later released.

Background[edit]

Between April to May 2006, several Hindu temples were demolished by city hall authorities in the country, accompanied by violence against Hindus.[2] On 21 April 2006, the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur was reduced to rubble after the city hall sent in bulldozers.[3]

The president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam in Selangor State has been helping to organise efforts to stop the local authorities in the Muslim dominated city of Shah Alam from demolishing a 107-year-old Hindu temple. The growing Islamization in Malaysia is a cause for concern to many Malaysians who follow minority religions such as Hinduism.[4] On 11 May 2006, armed city hall officers from Kuala Lumpur forcefully demolished part of a 60-year-old suburban temple that serves more than 1,000 Hindus.

The Hindu Rights Action Force or HINDRAF, a coalition of several NGO's, have protested these demolitions by lodging complaints with the Prime Minister of Malaysia but with no response.[5] Many Hindu advocacy groups have protested what they allege is a systematic plan of temple cleansing in Malaysia. The official reason given by the Malaysian government has been that the temples were built "illegally". However, several of the temples are centuries old.[5] According to a lawyer for HINDRAF, a Hindu temple is demolished in Malaysia once every three weeks.[6]

Laws in the country, especially those concerning religious identity, are generally slanted towards compulsion into converting to Islam[7]

Petition to the United Kingdom[edit]

A HINDRAF activist carries a poster of Elizabeth II during the march to deliver their petition to the British High Commission

On 31 August 2007, the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's independence, P. Waytha Moorthy, a HINDRAF lawyer filed a class action suit against the Government of the United Kingdom at The Royal Courts of Justice in London for US$4 trillion (US$1 million for every Malaysian Indian) for "withdrawing after granting independence and leaving us (Indians) unprotected and at the mercy of a majority Malay-Muslim government that has violated our rights as minority Indians".[8] as guaranteed in the Federal Constitution when independence was granted.[9]

The lawsuit is not only claiming 4 trillion British Pounds as compensation, it is also seeking to strike out Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution which acknowledges the special position of Malays and the legitimate rights of other races, but is often seen as endorsement of Malay Supremacy and for the court to declare that Malaysia is a secular state and not an Islamic state[10] as declared by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who is partly Indian himself.

As the group, which represents mainly working class Indian Malaysians, could not afford the legal fees required, a petition was circulated with 100,000 signatures to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen's counsel to argue the case.[9] The purpose of the rally was to hand over a 100,000 signature memorandum to the British Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

HINDRAF organised the rally on Sunday, 25 November 2007 to submit the petition at the British High Commission.

Government roadblocks[edit]

Malaysian police refused to grant a permit for the rally,[11] and set up roadblocks in Klang Valley along roads leading up to the rally to screen motorists entering the city center and identify "troublemakers".[12] They also advised the public not to participate in the rally,[13] and arrested three leaders of HINDRAF.[14] Many shops around Kuala Lumpur including Suria KLCC were closed on that day in fear of trouble from the rally.

One day before the rally, police arrested three HINDRAF lawyers, P. Uthayakumar, P. Waytha Moorthy and V. Ganabatirau for sedition charges. Uthayakumar and Ganabatirau posted bail of 800 Malaysian ringgits each, but Waytha Moorthy refused bail as a sign of protest.[15][16][17]

The police roadblocks started the week before the rally to create massive traffic jams across the city and the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.[18] The Malaysian Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang of the DAP pointed out that this high-handed act by the police was unnecessary as it caused major inconvenience to everyone.[19]

Rally[edit]

HINDRAF carrying posters of Mahatma Gandhi and banners during the protest in Kuala Lumpur
Riot police use teargas and water cannon to break up the march on 25 November 2007.

On the morning of the rally, about twenty thousand people gathered near the Petronas Twin Towers, a symbol of modern Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, carrying life-size portraits of Elizabeth II and Mahatma Gandhi, to indicate the nonviolent nature of their protest.[9] Five thousand members riot police dispatched to the scene used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds. 136 people were arrested.[9][20]

Al-Jazeera's coverage of the event[21] showed police officers using tear gas to disperse the protesters. A few hundred protesters and three police officers were injured.[22]

The protest at the Batu Caves Hindu temple resulted in minor property damages,[23] although the Hindu temple itself was not damaged.[24]

HINDRAF later claimed to have faxed the petition to the British High Commission staff. However, as of 28 November 2007, the British Envoy had not yet received any petition from the HINDRAF, though they did say they had received some unspecified information by fax.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "30,000 Hindraf protesters rally in KL streets", Malaysiakini.com, 25 November 2007.
  2. ^ Temple row - a dab of sensibility please,malaysiakini.com
  3. ^ Muslims Destroy Century-Old Hindu Temple,gatago.com
  4. ^ Pressure on multi-faith Malaysia,BBC
  5. ^ a b Hindu group protests 'temple cleansing' in Malaysia,Financial Express
  6. ^ Malaysia ethnic Indians in uphill fight on religion Reuters India - 8 November 2007
  7. ^ Malaysia strips Hindus of rights Daily Pioneer - 19 January 2010
  8. ^ "名古屋に住むコがネイルスクールに進学。". Policewatchmalaysia.com. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d Kuppusamy, Baradan (26 November 2007). "Facing Malaysia's Racial Issues". TIME. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  10. ^ http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39221
  11. ^ Malaysiakini (needs subscription)
  12. ^ Detikdaily - Hindraf rally: Arrests, roadblocks will make it worse
  13. ^ Hindraf rally: Cops warn of 'stern action'
  14. ^ Another Hindraf lawyer arrested
  15. ^ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=54188
  16. ^ "China's Business Newspaper". The Standard. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "iMOL Archives - Hindraf: Let us hand petition and go home". Indianmalaysian.com. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  18. ^ [1][dead link]
  19. ^ "Hindraf rally – police stop over-reacting, dismantle roadblocks and issue permit « Lim Kit Siang". Blog.limkitsiang.com. 23 November 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  20. ^ "Archives | The Star Online". Thestar.com.my. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. 25 November 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Archives | The Star Online". Thestar.com.my. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "Archives | The Star Online". Thestar.com.my. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "Archives | The Star Online". Thestar.com.my. 27 November 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  25. ^ British envoy: No petition received

External links[edit]