Lawyers, activists up in arms over Siti Kasim’s arrest

Lawyer and human rights activist Siti Kasim was arrested last night hours after police went to her house. (Facebook pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Lawyers and activists have slammed the arrest of human rights champion Siti Kasim who is accused of kidnapping a 24-year-old woman.

This reportedly happened hours after officers broke into the lawyer’s home following a report accusing her of forcibly locking up a woman. Police had, according to a source, barged into her house around dinner time.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen, in a series of tweets, said this was a clear abuse of police power.

Paulsen said that from the video, one could see a grown woman seeking help from Siti but the police have instead arrested both the lawyer and the woman.

“Kidnapping or confining a kidnapped person are very serious allegations. I hope the police have evidence to this effect other than arrest now and investigate later.

“Just because someone has lodged a police report does not mean the police must act without investigating the veracity of the report. This is just reckless. Don’t abuse your powers @PDRMsia. This is why we need the IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission).

“Hope the @PDRMsia will have the sense to release @sitikasim and not be arrogant enough to seek her remand. The police have caused this fiasco in the first place and now dare to claim that she has obstructed the police?” he posted on Twitter.

Paulsen said the woman could be clearly heard saying in the police station that she was not kidnapped.

“So why so adamant on this matter?

“Am I right to say that if Anis was a male, this would not have happened? Would the authorities have been so overzealous to believe the mother that this grown 24-year-old adult was ‘mentally unstable’ or was ‘kidnapped’?” he said.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, meanwhile, urged police to explain what was going on, and questioned the need for such an action to be taken.

“IGP @Fuzi_Harun, we ask that the rights of the lawyer nor the woman be violated. What offence has been committed?” she queried on Twitter.

Latheefa called Siti’s arrest over “a purported kidnap of her adult client is one of the worst case of police abuse of power I have ever heard!”

“The home minister must step in immediately and undo this. #MalaysiaBaru #polissikaplama,” she said.

Another lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, said there was no need to arrest Siti, and that police could just get in touch with the woman or Siti herself to present themselves at the police station on allegations the woman was kidnapped.

“Not by coming straight to Siti’s house and making the arrest,” he said.

The incident has also drawn the attention of activist Marina Mahathir, who tweeted, “@sitikasim has been arrested for allegedly obstructing a public servant (cop) who apparently ‘rescued’ an adult female from being allegedly kidnapped by Siti. Despite the woman saying she hadn’t been kidnapped. All cos her mother said so”.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) acting executive director Yu Ren Chung also weighed in on the issue on Twitter, saying that the “victim” informed officers clearly that she was not kidnapped and she wanted to speak to Siti.

“Yet the police still detained her and arrested Siti,” he tweeted.

It is understood that Siti’s client, a woman in her 20s, was picked up by police, after a complaint lodged by her mother claiming that her daughter’s faith was in question.

Siti had earlier said that the woman, who she claimed was abused by the mother, had been “abducted” by the police and Islamic authorities in Selangor.

A video posted on Facebook shows Siti at the police station, demanding that her client be freed. A woman was also heard from another room, denying that she had been kidnapped by Siti.

Meanwhile, Malay Mail reported that police insisted they had to break down the door of Siti’s house last night to “rescue” her client and to prevent the latter from hurting herself and others.

Selangor Criminal Investigations Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Fadzil Ahmat also confirmed that Siti was arrested for obstructing a civil servant from discharging his duties, after she confronted police officers at the Kajang police headquarters for taking her client into custody.

“The victim was supposed to undergo a psychiatric check-up at Kajang Hospital but was interrupted by Siti who had barged into the examination room during the test on Thursday,” he said.

Fadzil said police went to the condominium in Segambut after several tip-offs that the “victim” was there.

“During the rescue attempt, she refused to cooperate with the police and locked herself in the house.

“In order to ensure she did not hurt herself and others, our officers had to break down the door forcefully to gain entry,” he said, adding that the woman was subsequently sent back to the hospital to resume her check-up.

Cops arrest Siti Kasim for ‘kidnap’