Saturday, 30 July 2011

Malaysian activists released

The Malaysian activists known as the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) 6 were released on Friday evening at 5.30pm Kuala Lumpur time, CCI sources say.

The release came shortly after Dr Michael Jeyakumar had announced that he was beginning a hunger strike.

Ex-YCW Sarasvathy Muthu was among those released.

The six PSM members - Choo Chon Kai, Sarat Babu, M Sarasvathy, M Sukumaran, A Letchumanan and Sungai Siput parliamentarian Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj - were initially detained on suspicion of planning to wage war against the King, reports Malaysiakini.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Malaysian ex-YCW Sarasvathy arrested

Former Malaysian YCW leader Ms Sarasvathy Muthu is one of six activists who have been detained under Malaysia's harsh internal security laws.

Sarasvathy and five other leaders of the Socialist Party of Malaysia are being held under the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance on the grounds that they were the "main movers" of the pro-democracy rally on July 9, 2011, organized by Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections).

They had initially been criminally charged with "preparing to wage war against the king," evidently based on their possession of T-shirts with portraits of dead or long retired Communist Party leaders. After they were released on July 2 on bail, they were immediately re-arrested under the Emergency Ordinance, Human Rights Watch says in a statement calling for their release.

Known as the PSM 6 r the EO6 those arrested are: Michaeal Jeyakumar Devaraj, PSM member of parliament for Sungai Siput; Sukumaran Munisamy, PSM Central Committee member; Letchumanan Aseer Patham, PSM Sungai Siput branch secretary; Choo Chon Kai, PSM international coordinator; Sarasvathy Muthu, PSM national deputy chairwoman; and Sarat Babu Raman, PSM youth chairman.

"The Malaysian government has replaced its bogus criminal charges with the hammer of preventive detention to lock away political opposition leaders," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The PSM 6 should be immediately released whether or not they organized the peaceful July 9 rally."

Lawyers for the detainees told Human Rights Watch that the "PSM 6" have been held in solitary confinement, subjected to continual and intense interrogations, and blindfolded both in detention and during transport to meet with legal counsel. Habeas corpus hearings, to determine the lawfulness of their detention, are scheduled for July 22 in Kuala Lumpur High Court, yet it is unclear whether the police will permit any of the detainees to attend.

The police and the Attorney General's Chambers are expected to argue that detention under the Emergency Ordinance is both justifiable and lawful. Malaysia's Emergency Ordinance permits the police, on their own initiative, to hold anyone they deem a threat to public order for 60 days. The home minister may extend detention for two more years, renewable indefinitely in two-year increments.

Twenty-one other PSM party members were released on bail on July 4 after being charged under the Societies Act with acting on behalf of an unlawful organization and under the Internal Security Act with being in possession of subversive documents. Available information indicates that the 21 are being prosecuted for engaging in their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, Human Rights Watch said. Their release on RM8000 (US$2,670) bail appears grossly excessive in light of their alleged crimes.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia is a legally registered political party and currently has one member in the national assembly. When it began its campaign on June 24, its agenda included promoting participation in Bersih's July 9 march and educating Malaysians about issues the ruling government coalition were not addressing, such as combating government corruption, calling attention to growing income gaps, and raising concerns about increased ethnic tensions and deteriorating democratic institutions in the country.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the Malaysian government to end the use of all preventive detention legislation, including the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance, the Internal Security Act, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, and the Restricted Residency Act 1933.

"It's high time that Malaysia's leaders recognize that democratic governance means engaging with the political opposition rather than throwing them in jail," Robertson said.

Sarasvathy Muthuhas joined the YCW during the 1980s where she organized textile and food industry workers in Jelapang and Tasek factory level and also the state level to form a union body involved in picketing and strike.

From that time, she has travelled to various parts of SEA to represent Malaysia at conferences. Saras is actively involved in women’s groups networks such as AWAM and WDC in discussing the challenges of the female working community.

As a full time activist in Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Saras contended in the 2008 elections for DUN Jelapang. Even though she lost, she served the constituency with a big heart, Malaysia Today says.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Somyot formally charged

Thai prosecutors have formally charged labor activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk with lese majeste after a magazine he edited carried two articles that allegedly insulted the nation's king.

Somyot, who is a former Thailand YCW fulltimer, was charged after he had been already imprisoned for 84 days, the maximum number of days that a prisoner can be held without charge under Thai law, the Bangkok Post reports.

Somyot told the paper that the incoming government to be led by Yingluck Shinawatra  seemed content  to work under existing draconian legal and social settings.

“We all hope that  civil liberty will be cherished and will prosper,  as it must be the highest priority of  society along with reconciliation.

"To reconcile does not mean just between Thaksin and the elite, but also mutual understanding and tolerance between various groups in society.

"Reconciliation must reach-out to the victims and the damaged parties and must include humane and adequate remedial procedures for those injured and affected by last year's crackdown,” Somyot said.

In a statement, Cardijn Community International president Stefan Gigacz called for Somyot's release and for the dropping of charges.

"Whether of not we agree with Somyot's political options, it is time for Thailand to heal the divisions of recent years.

"Somyot has worked tirelessly for the benefit of Thai workers for many years. It is deeply regrettable that he should now face many years in jail for his commitment," Mr Gigacz said.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Countdown to conference

Less than a week to go to our 10th anniversary conference to be held from 23-25 July in Bangkok, Thailand.

We are pleased to say that we have 48 participants enrolled and we expect it to be a very significant event for the development of the CCI network.

Keynote speaker will be Father Antoine Sondag, former international chaplain of the IYCS and of Pax Romana-ICMICA.

We are also happy to say that IYCW international president Ms Geethani Peries will also join us.

More details will follow over the next few days.

Stefan Gigacz, CCI Secretary

Saturday, 2 July 2011

IYCS elects new team

Outgoing Secretary-General Edouard Koutsava with new team members Nimali Fernando and Devett O'Brien (Photo: Lama Tanjar)

Meeting in New Delhi for its 14th World Council, the  IYCS has elected Australian Devett O’Brien as its new general secretary.

“I thank the IYCS members for electing me to the post,” O'Brien told, adding that he hoped to work with other members to spread peace in the world.

Nimali Fernando from Sri Lanka was also elected as the new program coordinator for the movement.

In addition, Kabore Gerard, Loucille Alcala, Teresa Mourad, Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Fr Mike Deeb, Manoj Mathew were elected to the IYCS Advisory Board.

Outgoing lay member Loucille Alcala and Edouard Koutsava thanked the movements and individuals for their support during the last four years.


IYCS World Council website

Last link to the Sillon disappears

Jean Sangnier, a French World War II resistance hero and son of Sillon founder, Marc Sangnier, has died at the age of 99.

He was buried Wednesday after a funeral at the St Thomas Aquinas Church in Paris’s 7th District.

During World War II, Sangnier together with Emilien Amaury and others founded the so-called Groupe de Lille (or Groupe de Rue de Lille), one of the first organised resistance groups against the German occupation. One of the first tasks of the group was to work with another war hero, later executed by the Germans, Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves, who had been given the mission by General de Gaulle to set up the first radio links between occupied France and the free French forces in London.

Jean Sangnier also printed a range of clandestine resistance publications, including Défense de la France, Résistance, the Catholic paper Témoignage chrétien, as well as the communist paper L’Humanité. He also published the speeches of General de Gaulle.

All this from a covert printery located literally metres from the Abwehr, the headquarters of German military intelligence in France.

After surviving the war, Jean Sangnier went on to co-found the daily newspaper Ouest-France and became director of a well-known magazine, Marie-France.

And in 1990, he launched the Institut Marc Sangnier, named for his father, who had founded the Catholic lay movement, Le Sillon, or The Furrow.

St Francis behind the plough in the logo of the Sillon (Furrow) movement

Little known today, even in France, the Sillon, which existed from 1894 until 1910, was later described by the future Cardinal Joseph Cardijn as the “greatest lay initiative since the (French) Revolution”.

And the future Pope John XXIII, who as a young priest had heard Marc Sangnier speak in Rome in 1904, would also write that Sangnier senior’s “personality and his political and social activities are the most vivid memories of my sacerdotal youth”.

Marc Sangnier’s Sillon movement only existed from around 1894 when it began as a student group known as the Crypt at the Stanislas College in Paris, until 1910, when a letter from Pope Pius X to the French demanded that Sangnier and his confreres resign from the leadership of the Sillon and hand control to the diocesan bishops. Sangnier and colleagues did indeed resign but the result was the almost instantaneous collapse of the movement.

Nevertheless, the heritage of the Sillon lived on in many other movements. Cardijn’s see-judge-act methodology, which became the mainstay of later movements such as the Young Christian Workers and Young Christian Students and the MIJARC, was largely borrowed from the Sillon’s own “method of democratic education”.

In fact, the Sillon was the prototype for these later movements which emerged under the papacy of Pope Pius XI. Nor was it an accident that it was Pope John XXIII whose encyclical Mater et Magistra formally adopted the see-judge-act method as a part of Catholic social teaching and practice.

Marc Sangnier never got the credit for the role that the Sillon had played in the emergence of the later movements, although Cardijn certainly recognized it.

“It is the privilege and the reward of the sower of the ideal of life to be unable to limit the field that he seeds or to constrain the range of his fertile gesture. The winds of the air and the birds of the sky carry off this seed and deposit it sometimes far away, in a field where God’s makes it fruitful and multiplies it,” Cardijn told Marc Sangnier in 1921 in an explicit (but unpublished) acknowledgment of his influence.

In any event, Jean Sangnier was very pleased when I published an article in 1997 detailing the role that the Sillon had played in the emergence of the YCW and other lay movements, including the American Catholic Worker.

As with his father, Jean Sangnier’s achievements have often remained in the shadows. All the more reason to offer this small tribute to a man who was in effect the last living link to the Sillon.

- Stefan Gigacz


Last link to the Sillon disappears at 99
(Give us this day)