KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15, 2015:

Activists deserve equal protection under the law even though one does not agree with their stance, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) reminded authorities this morning.

The human rights and legal reform non-governmental organisation said activists must be given the space, freedom and security to carry out their work safely and without being targeted by threats, violence or selective prosecution.

LFL’s legal coordinator Michelle Yesudas, in a statement, then called on authorities not to take such crimes lightly or allow a culture of impunity to fester and develop over time.

“They must take immediate and serious action against the perpetrators, failing which they would only embolden the perpetrators or others to commit similar or even more serious crimes.”

LFL was responding to the recent attacks against well-known LGBT activist Nisha Ayub and student leader Syahir Rahimi Sukri.

Nisha was allegedly attacked with an iron rod last Thursday by two men and sustained several injuries while she was on her way to work while Syahir, the Gabungan Mahasiswa Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia president, was slashed and had paint splashed on him at 4am yesterday while guarding campus election materials.

These attacks, Michelle stressed, were clearly crimes of intimidation and malice against human rights activists as they specifically targeted those who were vocal and well-known for advocating their causes.

The violent acts perpetrated against Nisha, she added, was a stark reminder that these individuals were extremely vulnerable and face serious discrimination and threats of violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in Malaysia.

While in Syahir’s case, Michelle said, was a vicious intimidation tactic intended to discourage him from student activism.

“To make matters worse, progressive student activists like him are also constantly being harassed by the authorities and universities themselves in order to deter them from participating in any form of progressive activism.”

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