British Lawyer Deported Over Hindraf Lawsuit

The Immigration Department has deported British lawyer Imran Khan, who arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday for a fact-finding mission on the marginalisation of Indian Malaysians.

This is the second time a foreign lawyer has been booted out of the country this year - last month, French lawyer William Bourdon, who was representing human rights group Suaram in a lawsuit over the Scorpene submarine scandal, was deported after he landed in KLIA.

Imran (left), a lawyer well-known for cases involving racism, was sent on a plane back to London at 2am today after being detained by Immigration for more than 12 hours.

"Imran arrived at the KLIA airport at 1.50pm yesterday and upon presenting himself at the immigration counter, he informed the officer that he was in Malaysia to meet his clients who wish to engage him on a class-action suit against the UK government," said Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy in a press statement.

"The officer checked her list of 'wanted' persons and immediately told Imran that his request for entry was refused."

Waythamoorthy said that the immigration officers could not give any valid reason barring Imran from entering the country.

"All that the senior immigration officer could say was that he has no problems giving Imran entry, but the decision to bar him came from the topmost office of Special Branch in Bukit Aman and the Home Ministry. He further said the police deemed Imran as a threat to Malaysia's security."

However, another lawyer who is involved in the case, Suresh Grover, was allowed entry into Malaysia.

The duo's visit is part of Hindraf's effort to build its case against the British government, which is accused of abandoning Indians without protection after bringing them in as labourers to then Malaya.

"The lawyers will go to the ground and interview first-hand cases such as denial of identity cards and education among marginalised Indians," Human Rights Party information chief S Jayathas told Malaysiakini.

Closed-door meeting to proceed

A closed-door meeting for the lawyers to meet "marginalised" Indians is to be held at Klang Hokkien Hall at 9am tomorrow, and organisers vow that it will proceed despite Imran's absence.

The fact-finding mission is one of many efforts by Hindraf to gather evidence as it picks up from its similar suit in 2007 which was stalled when top Hindraf leaders were detained under the Internal Security Act following the landmark Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur.

Waythamoorthy, who filed the previous suit, remains in exile and is leading the charge in Britain.

According to Waythamoorthy, the British Foreign office and its embassy in Kuala Lumpur had tried to intervene on behalf of Imran yesterday.

"We were informed that the Malaysian authorities were not responding (to their calls) by not picking up the phone," he lamented.

"The Malaysian government by breaching recognised international protocols in such instance is definitely a slap in the face for the British government as their own prominent citizen such as Imran Khan was treated with such impunity."

DG: Imran a 'prohibited immigrant'

Immigration Department director-general Alias Ahmad confirmed Khan was deported early this morning as he was a "prohibited immigrant" but declined to comment further.

A survey released yesterday by independent research firm Merdeka Centre found that ethnic relations in Malaysia have deteriorated.

Of some 1,000 Malaysians questioned in May, 35 percent described ethnic unity as "sincere and friendly," down from 54 percent in 2006.

Hindraf shot to prominence in 2007 when it brought tens of thousands of ethnic Indians onto the streets demanding better education, job and business opportunities from the Malay-dominated government in an unprecedented protest.

Police put down the protest and arrested five of the leaders under a strict security law, detaining them without trial for almost one and a half years.

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