REPORTING FROM SEOUL -- Canadian singer Neil Young might croon a rebellious anthem that “Hey hey, my my, rock 'n’ roll will never die,” but in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the musical art form’s lifestyle is under serious attack.
In this strict Islamic corner of the world’s most-populous Muslim nation, authorities rounded up 65 male and female punk-rock fans after a recent concert for a bit of “reeducation.”
That meant having their mohawks and dreadlocks shaved, their clothes destroyed and their piercings yanked out before they were paraded around like crime suspects.
The punkers have cried harassment. Authorities say they’ve done nothing wrong.
“We're not torturing anyone. We're not violating human rights,” a provincial police chief was quoted as saying in London’s Daily Mail. “We're just trying to put them back on the right moral path.”
In 2005, after years of armed rebellion, residents of secular Aceh province on the island of Sumatra were granted permission to impose strict sharia, or Islamic law, to better promote moral values at a level not required of the rest of the nation.
In the now-semiautonomous province, bands of religious police wander a region where adultery is punishable by stoning and homosexuals have been jailed or lashed in public with canes. Rights groups complain that women are told they must wear head scarves and cannot dress in tight pants.
On Saturday night, police moved in with batons to break up a concert, scattering scores of young people. Many were loaded into vans and taken to a police detention center, where officers removed the youths’ “disgusting clothes” and handed each detainee a toothbrush.
They were then forced to sit in a muddy pool for what police called “spiritual cleansing.”
Officials said the youths’ lifestyle was a threat to Islamic values. Many of the youths were held in cages. One young girl wept as a woman in an Islamic head scarf shaved her head.
“Why? Why my hair?!” called out a 20-year-old man named Fauzanas he pointed to his clean-shaven head, according to the Daily Mail story. “We didn't hurt anyone. This is how we've chosen to express ourselves. Why are they treating us like criminals?”
The youths will be kept for 10 days and then returned to their families.
-- John M. Glionna
Photo: Police shave detained Indonesian punks at a police school in Aceh Besar in Aceh province. Credit: Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP/Getty Images