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Detained ethnic Indians to go on hunger strike

The hunger strike is to protest against the indefinite detention of the five ethnic Indian activists under a draconian security law.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2008 15:48 IST

Five ethnic Indian activists, who were taken into custody for demanding better treatment for their community in Malaysia, have decided to go on a hunger strike in protest against their indefinite detention under a draconian security law.

The five men are leaders of the non-governmental Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which had spearheaded a mass protest in November last year against the alleged marginalisation of ethnic Indians in this country. The rally, which was declared illegal by the government, was attended by over 20,000 ethnic Indians.

The detainees will begin their fast in jail on Sunday and will drink only water for at least five days, lawyer N Surendran, who is representing one of the five men said on Friday.

The five say that their detention is illegal and claim that the government took them into custody for politically motivated reasons, according to the lawyer.

The activists, who were detained last month under the Internal Security Act, are accused of threatening public security and inciting racial hatred in this multi-racial nation.

Malaysia's population of 27 million people comprises a majority of Malays who are all Muslims, 25 per cent ethnic Chinese who are Buddhists and Christians, 7.8 per cent Indians who are mostly Hindus with origin from Tamil Nadu.

The Indians were brought here by the British almost 200 years ago as indentured labourers to work in plantations. While some of them left when India attained independence in 1947, many opted to stay back and settled here.