Foreign Backing Against Temple Demolition
Update: Zafar Anjum has informed me that after sending my letter to PM Manmohan Singh to the Singaporean newspaper Today, the publication has since begun to cover the issue.
Foreign backing against temple demolition
Andrew Ong Jun 24, 06 3:28pm
At least three groups overseas have attempted to convey their concern to the Malaysian government about the spate of Hindu temple demolitions of late.
The Agni Foundation, representing the Dutch Hindu Community, held a meeting on May 19 with Malaysia's Ambassador to Holland Noor Farida Ariffin to discuss the issue.
In a report made available to malaysiakini, the foundation said that Noor Farida dismissed claims that the Malaysian government ignored the sensitivities of the Hindu community by demolishing the Sri Kaliamman temple in Kuala Lumpur on April 20.
Furthermore, the ambassador was also believed to have said in the meeting that Kuala Lumpur City Hall's actions were condoned by the Malaysia Hindu Sangam and that Hindus MPs did not voice their protest about the matter.
The report added that the ambassador promised to provide the foundation the 'true facts' of the matter.
"This reaction of the embassy was predictable," summed up the report.
Report to UN
Meanwhile, the Federation of Human Rights Organisations of India (FHROI) submitted a protest letter on the matter to the High Commissioner of Malaysia in New Dehli on June 2.
The letter condemned the demolition of the Sri Kaliamman temple as well as the intended demolition of the Sri Maha Mariamman in Senawang, Negeri Sembilan. Sharma also quoted Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - both provisions to an individual's right to freedom of religion.
"The Hindus in Malaysia have been dwelling there for centuries, living in a most peaceful and harmonious manner, yet the Malaysian government has chosen to deny them the minimum human rights guaranteed by the United Nations. Such
action is retrograde and barbarian," said Sharma.
Apart from requesting Malaysia to desist from any such action on Hindu temples, failing which they will lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations.
Write to AG
Regional human rights watchdog the Asian Human Rights Commission has launched a write-in campaign to the Malaysian Attorney-General as an urgent appeal over the issue.
"As the person responsible for instituting criminal proceedings against any subject who has committed a crime, the Attorney-General must act immediately and bring justice to those who have ordered and those who carried out the destruction of Hindu temples," said the commission on its website.
The commission blasted the Malaysian government over the demolition of the Sri Muniswara Alayam temple in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur which involved the use of force on devotees of the temple.
"Simple government intervention would have prevented this from occurring, but this was not done. Evidently, the government failed to intervene in order to aid a private developer pursuing commercial interest," it said.
The 60-year-old Muniswara temple near Jalan Ayer Madu in Setapak, northeast of Kuala Lumpur, was located on the path of the soon-to-be-completed Damansara Ulu Kelang Expressway (Duke).
"Furthermore, and of greater significance, the government failed to intervene in order to belittle the Hindu worshippers who used the temple, as alternative arrangements have been made in similar circumstances where Muslim followers were involved," it added.
Kuala Lumpur is set to see a temporary respite from demolitions as a MIC-backed committee will buy time to negotiate terms of temple relocation and demolishment with the respective stakeholders.
Opponents to the plan said that a permanent solution to the problem ought to be sought and that the threat of more temple demolition looms in other states.
A internet search by malaysiakini showed that this controversial issue has drawn the attention of the press in many parts of the world.