Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – A Malaysian Indian rights activist was released from prison Friday after nearly a year and a half in jail on charges of sedition.
P Uthayakumar, founder of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) group, was met by his family and supporters outside the prison in Kajang town, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
Uthayakumar, 52, was convicted of sedition last year for publishing in 2007 an open letter to then British prime minister Gordon Brown in which he accused the Malaysian government of “ethnic cleansing” against the Indian minority.
A local court sentenced him to 30 months in jail in 2013; an appeals court reduced the sentence by six months.
He was freed early on account of good behaviour, according to his lawyer and fellow activist M Manoharan.
“I have no regrets,” he told reporters. “I was convicted for championing equality and rejecting the Malaysian government’s practice of victimising the people.”
Criticising government leaders, Islam or royal figures can lead to prison sentences in Malaysia, which has tough sedition laws.
Prime Minister Najib Razak promised to abolish the colonial-era Sedition Act as part of his reform agenda, and replace it with a piece of legislation dubbed the National Harmony Bill. The bill is still under consultation.