Let Malaysians support justice, freedom beyond borders, Anwar tells Putrajaya

ANWAR_IBRAHIM_SOLIDARITY_211014_TMIAFIFRAEIZAL_4Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged Putrajaya to stop treating activism against human rights violations in other countries by Malaysians as objectionable, as it does not interfere with other nations’ affairs.

Throwing his support for those highlighting atrocities against Tamils in Sri Lanka, the PKR de facto head said Malaysians should be allowed to help promote freedom and justice wherever abuses occur.

“If there is gross injustice, the killings must be stopped,” he said at the closing of the Penang International Tamil Conference in George Town. “That is a consistent, coherent principle.”

In a similar vein, he said Malaysian should also offer support to any marginalised ethnic group, like the Indians, in their own country.

“The Indian problem in terms of poverty, marginalisation, poor access to education, is a national problem. It is not an Indian problem,” he said at the conference organised by the Penang Society for Advancement of Tamils.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister (II) Prof P. Ramasamy and special guest Vaiko, a veteran politician from Tamil Nadu who is general secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) party.

At a press conference later, Anwar said authorities, particularly the Home Ministry, must give space for people to present their human rights causes, particularly for strong and compelling cases that have “incontrovertible evidence”.

“If we want the Indians or Tamils to be concerned about Gaza (where Palestinians are oppressed), we must also show some concern about the Tamil’s plight,” he said.

“If as a Muslim I want to make sure the Muslims are not discriminated elsewhere, I don’t want Hindus to be discriminated in my country,” he added.

Commenting on government actions, such as the police move to stop the screening of the documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” in Kuala Lumpur last year, Anwar said it is disconcerting that there are growing signs of intolerance in Malaysia.

“What can’t you allow some members of a community – it can be Tamils, it can be others – who are trying to voice their concerns about the atrocities in Sri Lanka?” he said.

“If the Sri Lankan authorities or government want to counter they can always give their view, their explanation.

“But how can you deny an issue which is known and accepted by the international community?” Anwar said.

Ramasamy said the conference, which also saw participation by non-Indians, has shown that non-Indians can also speak out about Indian issues. He said it represented moving away from any “narrow-minded” ethnic approach where groups only fight for their own causes.

Ramasamy said he himself was involved in the international peace talks for Aceh a decade ago. “People were wondering what a Tamil has got to do with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vaiko said the conference today adopted the “Penang Declaration”. Among its eight resolutions was a call for a United Nations-monitored referendum for a sovereign Tamil Eelam, an independent state on the island of Sri Lanka.

It said the referendum should be conducted among Tamils descended from the northern and eastern regions of the island of Sri Lanka, as well as the Tamil diaspora from there, including refugees.

Vaiko said the move was encouraged by the recent independence referendum in Scotland, which has not even seen the level of persecution or oppression as during the recent genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

“The clarion call has been given from this Penang Conference. We are hopeful this will lead to the twilight, the twilight to the suffering of the Tamils,” he added.

South African delegate Pregasen Padayachee said the Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka, of which he is the secretary, together with the South African Tamil Federation will hold the next international Tamil conference in Durban either in late 2015 or early 2016. – November 9, 2014.

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