More than a dozen ethnic Indian activists shaved their heads outside a Malaysian temple yesterday to protest the detention of their leaders under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA), organizers said.
Five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), calling for an end to alleged discrimination of Indians in multiracial Malaysia, were held last week under the ISA which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
More than 100 Indians gathered on the banks of a river near a temple at Batu Caves, just outside the capital, where 16 people shed their hair.
"The 16 of us have shaved our heads as a protest against the detention of the five leaders of Hindraf who are being held under the ISA," activist S. Jayathas said.
"We do not believe they are a threat to National Security and we think the ISA should be abolished," he said.
According to rights group the Voice of the Malaysian People (Suaram), 89 people are currently being held under the ISA with almost half of those held being alleged Islamic militants.
The group carried pictures of Indian non-violence Independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi as they headed towards the temple where prayers were held.
"In the Hindu religion, people shave their heads as a sign of mourning," opposition leader Sivarasa Rasiah said. "Here, it reflects the sadness over the detention of the leaders and that protests against their detention and the fight against discrimination will continue."
Hindraf enraged the government last month by mounting a rally protesting discrimination, which was broken up by police.
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