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Malaysia: Attempted killing of human rights defender

37 expresses grave concern after receiving information regarding the threats and attacks on the life of human rights defender Siti Zabedah Kasim in Malaysia.

On 21 July 2023, an attempt to kill the human rights defender Siti Zabedah Kasim (Siti Kasim) took place. An improvised explosive device (IED) was planted on the human rights defender’s car and was discovered behind her tyre by a mechanic in a car service workshop in Bangsar.

Siti Kasim is a human rights lawyer and an LGBTIQ+ rights defender. She has defended Orang Asli indigenous communities vindicating their land rights against mining and logging activities in Peninsular Malaysia. Siti Kasim is also a prominent advocate for the LGBTIQ+ community in the country.

The explosive device was confirmed to be an IED by the Bomb Disposal Unit. Although the attacker remains unknown, the Inspector-General of Police has stated that “Placing the bomb is a serious crime and amounts to attempted murder,” while the police are trying to trace the suspect through fingerprints and other evidence.

Siti Kasim has previously received death threats for advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights and speaking out against the rise of religious extremism in Malaysia. However, this recent incident is the most serious she has ever faced. As a result, the woman human rights lawyer is worried for her and her family’s safety.

On 23 July 2017, Siti Kasim filed a police report at the Sentul police station, Kuala Lumpur, after death, rape and acid attack threats were published against her online relating to her work for LGBTIQ+ rights. On 13 June 2017, Siti Kasim was informed that she was to be charged under section 186 of the Penal Code for “obstructing a public servant in discharge of his public functions” in light of a raid which was carried out on an event hosted by transgender women by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) in Kuala Lumpur on 3 April 2016.