Friday, January 22, 2016

Kula: Indira may seek international redress

Terence Netto

DAP MP for Ipoh Barat M Kulasegaran said his client may have to resort to the United Nations’ help to regain custody of her daughter who was converted to Islam without the mother’s consent.

Speaking at a ‘Solidarity with Indira Gandhi’ gathering in Seberang Prai last night, the lawyer for Indira in her six-year custody battle said Malaysia’s accession to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) provides access for his client’s recourse to international remedy.

“The appellate courts here have denied Indira a mother’s right to custody of her daughter which is covered by Cedaw,” said Kulasegaran, addressing a crowd of about 400 people who packed the Dewan Sree Mariamman.

On Dec 30, a majority decision by a panel of the Court of Appeal effectively ruled out the possibility that Indira could regain custody of her daughter, Prasana Diksa, who was only 11 months and was being breast-fed when her estranged husband unilaterally converted all three of their children to Islam.

K Pathmanathan, who also converted and took the name of Mohd Ridhuan Abdullah, has refused civil orders to surrender Prasana to her mother.

“We will persist with the legal recourse to the apex court. If that doesn’t succeed in reuniting mother with daughter, we will have to resort to international help,” explained Kulasegaran.

The COA decision has focused public attention on Indira’s plight, with walkabouts and gatherings being staged in various towns and cities.

Last night’s gathering was possibly the largest in the circuit thus far. It featured Penang DAP leaders Chong Eng, a member of the state executive council, and Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy.

Other speakers included senior lawyer K Saraswathy and NGO leader Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim.

All speakers demanded justice for Indira and lauded her courage in waging a now seven-year battle for custody of her daughter. Indira also spoke, thanking her lawyers for doing pro bono work for her.

Cedaw is an international treaty adopted by the UN general assemby in 1979 and was opened for signatures and accession in 1981. Malaysia signed and acceded to the treaty in 1995.

Another gathering on Indira’s predicament is scheduled to be held in Tanjong Malim tonight.

“We have to conscientise the public for if we lose in the legal arena, there is consolation to be gained from a moral victory in the court of public opinion,” said Kulasegaran.

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