Published — Wednesday 5 June 2013
Last update 5 June 2013 3:43 pm
KUALA LUMPUR: A court sentenced a Malaysian social activist to 30 months in prison on Wednesday for publishing what officials called a seditious letter accusing the government of oppressing the nation's ethnic Indian minority.
The charge stems from an open letter that P. Uthayakumar wrote in 2007 to seek former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's help for ethnic Indians in Malaysia, where ethnic Malay Muslims are the majority.
Uthayakumar was a key organizer of a major protest in 2007 that stunned authorities by bringing tens of thousands of ethnic Indians into Kuala Lumpur's streets in a rare public display of anger.
Uthayakumar has alleged the government does little to help impoverished ethnic Indians and condones the killing of Indian suspects by police. Authorities deny his claims.
A Kuala Lumpur district court convicted Uthayakumar of sedition on Wednesday. He began serving the sentence immediately.
In his 2007 letter, Uthayakumar claimed many ethnic Indians had died in Malaysia because of "ethnic cleansing" policies, including suspects shot by police or killed in custody.