Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hindraf and Penan get human rights awards

Hindraf and Penan get human rights awards

by S. Tamarai Chelvi

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf and the Penans of Ulu Baram, Sarawak received Suaram’s Human Rights Award yesterday for their courage, perseverance and achievements in defending human rights.

The two groups were among six nominees, which included the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), urban settlers of Kampung Berembang, the Kampung Chang Sungai Gepai community of Bidor, Perak and the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee.

The awards were presented at ceremonies in Kuala Lumpur and the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) also launched its “Malaysia Civil and Political Rights Report 2008” at the event.

Sahabat Wanita’s Irene Xavier, who was on the panel of judges, said Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) made “a signifi cant change in the thinking of the community”.

“Within a short period of time, Hindraf had successfully captivated, mobilised and empowered vast numbers of Malaysians of Indian ethnic origin to struggle against very powerful interests and forces,” she said.

“There is also no denying that Hindraf had a big impact on the Malaysian political scene in 2008 and its rise has in fact surprised and captured the imagination of many Malaysians, and has also inspired others.”

On the Penan people, Xavier said Suaram recognised their long, difficult struggle as an isolated community.

“They have been defending their traditional lands from encroachment, especially by loggers, since the early 1980s.”

The Penan issue is the non-recognition of their native customary right over their traditional land.

Representing Hindraf were its national coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran and national event coordinator R. Kannan, and the Penan, Tuai Kampung Tirong Lawing, 60, and Nik Kelesau, 43.

Thanenthiran said the award “goes to all who came to the street to prove that the oppressed and marginalised can’t be stopped”. Nik thanked all those who contributed to efforts to defend Penan land.

The recipients each also received RM1,000.

seals: As I said earlier.... I feel we in British time ..... HERO'S for the people, BAD GUYS for the GOVERNMENT.

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