17 April, 2007

Forcible separation of Marimuthu from wife and six children - habeas corpus writ

Rubber tapper P Marimuthu’s life changed drastically when seven officers from the Selangor Religious Department (Jais) came to his house in Kampung Baru Tambahan Ulu Yam early this month.

From Lim Kit Siang :

DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh will file habeas corpus application for rubber-tapper Marimuthu a/l Periasamy to be reunited with his wife, Raimah Bibi a/p Noordin and six children (Yogneswary 12, Paramila 11, Hariharen 8, Shamala 5, Ravindran 5 and Kuberan, 4) who had been forcibly separated from him for two weeks by Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS).

On 2nd April, 2007, seven officers from JAIS came to his house in Kampung Baru Tambahan Ulu Yam Lama, Selangor and told him that his wife of 21 years was a Muslim and that she and the six children must be placed in a rehabilitation centre.

Marimuthu, 44, had no choice but to let the officers take his family away.

He said an “ustaz” told him to convert to Islam or threatened to charge him for khalwat with Raimah.

Raimah, who returned to help him with the rubber tapping work two days later, told him that Jais had placed the family in the nearby Kampung Melayu Liga Emas, a Muslim Malay populated area, so that the neighbours can keep an eye on her daily activities and prevent her from meeting with any outsiders, particularly her Hindu husband.

Marimuthu said he felt threatened by the villagers’ stares when he attempted to visit his wife and children, and his wife was afraid and refused to come out and talk to him. Marimutu had no choice but to leave that village..

Raimah Bibi is an Indian who is a practicing Hindu. She was once adopted by a Indian-Muslim family when she was small. Her IC had never indicated that she was a Muslim until when she applied for her MyKad when her name was changed to Rahimah Bibi bt Noordin and identified as a Muslim. Both Marimuthu and Raimah did not apply for correction with the National Registration Department (NRD). Birth certificates of all Marimuthu’s children also indicate that Raimah is an Hindu Indian.

Marimuthu said that both of them were practising Hindus and they had got married in a temple according to Hindu rites and all their children were brought up as Hindus.

He said Raimah, who was adopted by an Indian Muslim family, cannot remember her adopted mother and her late adopted father had approved of their relationship.

It is most shocking that there is a lengthening list of cases of families being broken up by religious authorities like the case of Marimuthu being forcibly separated from his wife and six children in utter disregard of the sensitivities and rights of the multi-religious citizenry in the country.

When laws and religions are used to break up families, it is giving a bad name to laws and religions.

Noted constitutional lawyer and human rights defender, Malik Imtiaz have rightly commented on the Marimuthu family tragedy in his blog, Disquiet:

The law requires that the welfare of the children be the paramount consideration. The law also requires that all of us be treated equally. And yet, it would seem that those amongst us charged with the welfare of the nation and its citizens appear to think otherwise.

What justifies tearing a family apart, separating children from their parents? Islam does not. The law does not. How can we even begin to understand the anguish of the father, the mother and the children? How can we even begin to understand that some believe that the law countenances, warrants, such cruelty?

Someone has to be made accountable for this.


Read also :

myAsylum : Life, liberty and happiness... denied
Disqueit : Promoting Unity, Malaysian Style

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