Kuala Lumpur, June 8 (IANS)
Family members and friends of those detained under Malaysia's Internal Security Act (ISA), which includes five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) activists, staged a peaceful candlelight vigil outside the Kamunting detention camp in Perak state.
Among the estimated 80 detainees are Hindraf leaders - M. Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34 - who were placed under a two-year detention after they staged a protest rally last November.
The large group was allowed to stage their protest for 15 minutes under the watch of Federal Reserve Unit police personnel during the gathering organised by the "Abolish ISA Movement" Saturday evening, The Star newspaper reported Sunday.
Of the five, Manoharan is a member of the state assembly, elected on the nomination of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).
Perak is an opposition-ruled state and its senior executive councillor (minister) Ngeh Koo Ham was present to monitor the situation.
Ngeh, who is also state DAP chairman, said the state government's stand was that every person had a universal right to a fair trial in a court of law, as opposed to unlawful detention.
The government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has fended off appeals for the release of the Hindraf leaders from both the ruling and the opposition parties and human rights bodies.
The government says the Hindraf leaders were trying to disturb the ethnic balance in Malaysia that has majority Malays, about 33 percent Chinese and eight percent Indians.
Malaysia's royal head of the state has confirmed the detention of the five and has ordered that they complete their two-year terms.
The Hindraf is fighting for the freedom of the five leaders in law courts with the support of DAP chairman Karpal Singh, who is of Indian origin.