Hindraf leader’s passport not revoked: Malaysian minister

May 27th, 2008 - 4:38 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 27 (IANS) Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar has refuted allegations by London-based Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P. Waythamoorthy that his passport, valid till 2010, had been revoked. In a statement issued Monday, Albar said he was informed by the immigration department that Waythamoorthy’s passport was “still listed as active in the passport and travel document system”.

“If the passport is still active, it means that the government has never made any cancellation to his travel document. Hence, his allegation that we have revoked his passport is baseless,” Albar said.

He added that Waythamoorthy was free to travel internationally as his passport was still valid.

The Hindraf leader, who is in London, claimed last week that his passport had been cancelled, adding the information was relayed to him by British immigration officers upon his return to London from Geneva after visiting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier this month, The Star newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Hindraf leader has been residing in London since he left the country in December after five of his colleagues, M. Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34, were jailed for organising a protest rally last November.

They are all serving two-year jail terms under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA).

Waythamoorthy has visited many countries to gather support for the Hindraf case that Tamil Hindus, who form bulk of the Malaysian community, are being discriminated against in jobs and education and that several of their shrines have been damaged or destroyed by the authorities.

He had planned to visit Washington for talks with leaders of the US Congress, Amnesty International and other rights groups to highlight alleged discriminatory policies against Indians in Malaysia.

According to Amnesty International’s Washington-based Asia Pacific advocacy director T. Kumar, Waythamoorthy’s visit to the US had to be put off because of “his passport’s cancellation”.

The Malaysian opposition has expressed sympathy for Hindraf leaders. Opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail attended the birthday party of Waythamoorthy’s daughter, which was held in the parliament’s lobby here. The opposition is also campaigning for the repeal of the ISA.

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