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‘They threw me out of Kamunting’
Humayun Kabir | May 9, 09 5:18pm
P Uthayakumar, the last of the five Hindraf leaders to be released today, claimed that he was thrown out of the Kamunting Detention Camp after he refused to give in to pressures from the prison authorities to sign the conditional release papers in exchange for his freedom.

Recollecting the events that transpired inside the Kamunting prison before he was freed this afternoon, Uthayakumar said the prison officials had dragged him out of the camp and thrown him into the prison van following his repeated refusal to sign the conditional papers.

“I stressed that there must be no conditional release. Otherwise, I would continue to stay here,” he told journalists and about 100 Hindraf supporters at the gate of the Kamunting Detention Camp, Perak, where he was held for 18 months under ISA detention.

According to him, his ordeal started at 8am when prison officials came to his cell and told him to get ready for his release in the afternoon.

He told the prison officers that he was ready to leave only if there were no preset conditions to his release.

Subsequently, Uthayakumar refused to listen to the various requests by the prison authorities to agree to his conditional freedom.

Uthayakumar also claimed that he was tricked into seeing the prison director who said the he could sign a release order instead of the conditional papers.

“However, when I got into his office, the director gave me the conditional release papers (to sign). Again, I refused."

The Hindraf leader said when an officer read out the clauses of his conditional release papers, he closed both his ears with his hands.

"After that, a guy forcibly took me out of the office and threw me into a prison van,” said Uthayakumar.

In the melee, Uthayakumar said he hurt his right leg, near his damaged toe for which he had earlier sought treatment while in detention.

It is learnt that the release of the other Hindraf leaders today are subject to a number of conditions, including being barred from speaking at public functions.

‘I’m wearing the same blue pants’

Uthayakumar said he feared that he could be forced to sign the conditional release papers before he even reaches home today.
“I was told that Special Branch (officers) are waiting for me to take me to Brickfields police station to sign the papers. But I will not bow to this,” he said.

“If they force me, I will not do it as I prefer going back to Kamunting prison,” he vowed.

Uthayakumar also said he was grateful for the support given by his family members, supporters and friends who had campaigned relentlessly for his release from the camp.

However, he refused to express gratitude to the government for freeing him after “514 days behind bars”.

“I won’t thank the government because I should have been brought to court in the first place and given a fair trial. But this procedure was not followed,” said Uthayakumar, who appeared haggard.

Uthayakumar and his family later went to Sri Maha Mariamal temple near Kamunting for prayers where he gave another speech to about 100 people who had gathered there.

The lawyer, who has not combed his hair nor shaved his beard since the day of his arrest on Dec 13, 2007, conceded that he may “look like a mad man”.

“Since Day One, I have grown this beard and hair, and I vowed never to shave it off (until his release).

"And these are the same blue pants that I have been wearing ever since," he added, showing his shabby prison trousers.

Nevertheless, he said the detention had made him wiser and gave him inner strength to meet new challenges ahead and he has a few ideas on improving the livelihood of the Indian community.

At about 4.30pm, Uthayakumar along with his family left Kamunting for his mother’s house in Seremban.

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