In letter from prison, Uthaya tells of 'Nazi-style' bullying

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...at the notorious Block K (AB), which is run by a group of young Malay gangsters with eight to 12 previous convictions... they shout and are rude at the smallest things, ill treat, bully, torture... punishing and 'disciplining' prisoners for even talking among themselves while forced to sit on the ground, head down and hands clutched to the knees for hours under the hot sun, like the Nazi-era war criminals and watched silently by the prison wardens.

The words above are penned by Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar from the very block where it all allegedly happened in the Kajang Prison, and released to the media yesterday, the 100th day of his incarceration there.

NONE Though Uthayakumar did not reveal if he had personally experienced such 'disciplining', it will nonetheless be humiliating for any person to undergo such treatment in prison.

Worse still, Uthayakumar claimed, the 'disciplining' appeared to be endorsed by the  wardens, who did nothing to stop the gangster inmates.

"The prison wardens' job is made easy by this 'outsourcing'. In return, these gangsters, called JL, camouflaged for 'Jurulatih' (trainer), get to reign supreme in prison.

"(They) 'extort' from prisoners some of the groceries their poor loved ones buy for (them) once a month from the prison canteen, right under the eyes of prison wardens," Uthayakumar wrote.

For turning a blind eye, the Hindraf leader alleged, the prison wardens were rewarded with "perks", such as free massage from the prisoners.

‘Humiliating life'

In his three-page letter filled with lengthy and sometimes fragmented sentences, the 52-year-old inmate details more humiliations suffered by the other prisoners.

"I was horrified when prisoners were made to strip naked, bend down, open up, and show their anus for the warden to see if they have hidden drugs in there... and then sit up and down repeatedly, and cough at the same time to see if any drugs fall off their anus," he said.

But humiliation was not the only concern, as death too, appeared much closer within the four walls.

"I almost witnessed my first death in custody, of a Chinese elderly man, brought in unconscious with a mere piece of paper with his name and body number written on it and stuck to his mouth.

"Only after eight hours and only after my insistence was he taken to the Kajang General Hospital. I never saw him again after that. I was told he had passed away," Uthayakumar said in the letter.

Uthayakumar, who is diabetic, also recounted the troubles with his prolapsed disc condition and a suspected fracture at his index finger, after slipping and falling in the bathroom because of the clogged drains.

"When I complained to the ASP on duty that what would happen if I had hit my head and something had happened to me, his reply was that if something happened there would be "no more problems after that" (as I would have died)," he wrote.

Signing off, Uthayakumar said he welcomed a mooted visit by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who had been  himself a former inmate after being jailed for sedition.

In light of the humiliating and precarious life of the inmates, Uthayakumar also called on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Bar Council and the opposition's human rights caucus to visit the prison.

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