|May 16, 08 10:35am
|The government has revoked the passport of a Hindu Rights Action Force chairperson P Waythamoorthy, Amnesty International said on Thursday.
Waythamoorthy, who has been living in London since he fled the country in December, has sought asylum in Britain, Amnesty’s Washington-based Asia-Pacific advocacy director T Kumar told AFP.
The activist had planned to visit Washington for talks with leaders of the US Congress and Amnesty and other rights groups, “but it has been put off because of his passport’s cancelation”, Kumar said.
Waythamoorthy had sought the talks to highlight alleged discriminatory policies against minority ethnic Indian Malaysians as well as the arrest under the powerful Internal Security Act of five senior Hindraf members at home.
The five, who led a massive anti-discrimination rally in Kuala Lumpur in November, are being held without trial and for an indefinite period.
Kumar said Waythamoorthy only became aware of his passport’s revocation when he returned to London from Geneva after talks recently with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“He was shocked to be informed by British immigration officers that Kuala Lumpur has revoked his passport,” Kumar said. “This makes him de facto stateless.”
“This is the first time I have heard of a political activist’s passport being revoked by his own country’s government,” he said.
Kumar called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to give a “full explanation on the rationale for the cancellation.”
Waythamoorthy said in a statement to Amnesty that the Malaysian government revoked his passport in the belief that the British authorities would deport him to Kuala Lumpur where he could be arrested under the Internal Security Act.
“This unwarranted act has given me greater ‘inner’ strength to continue to struggle for the Malaysian Indians and for the unconditional release of my fellow brothers held unjustly under the Internal Security Act,” he said.
Malaysia’s highest court on Wednesday refused to release the five activists, including a newly sworn-in state lawmaker.
Ethnic Indians make up less than eight percent of the 27 million population of the mainly Muslim-Malay country.
Lawyers for the five said they would appeal on Monday for the Federal Court to review its decision.
Rights groups say 70 people, mainly alleged Islamic militants, are being held under the Internal Security Act.