KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — Several pro-Palestine activists held a silent demonstration this afternoon in front of the swanky five-star Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur hotel, where the United States Embassy here is hosting a Fourth of July reception this evening.

Envoys and guests to the event commemorating the US’ 248 years of independence were faced with several banners and placards in support of Gaza, including one asking the embassy to remember Rachel Corrie — an American activist killed by an Israeli armoured bulldozer in 2003.

“Her name was Rachel Corrie. She was a true American,” said a cardboard with Corrie’s portrait pasted on it held by one of the demonstrators.

Demonstrators hold a picture of Rachel Corrie — an American activist killed by an Israeli armoured bulldozer in 2003 as well as signs calling for an end to the genocide in Gaza. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Demonstrators hold a picture of Rachel Corrie — an American activist killed by an Israeli armoured bulldozer in 2003 as well as signs calling for an end to the genocide in Gaza. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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Corrie travelled to the Gaza Strip in 2003 to support Palestinian civilians affected by the ongoing conflict.

In March that year, she was killed while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli Defence Forces in Rafah, when she was struck by an armoured bulldozer while attempting to prevent it from destroying a Palestinian family's home.

Among other banners and placards were those saying “Have you no shame?! Genocide enablers”, and calling US President Joe Biden and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu as the “pharaohs” of this era.

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The protest was organised by Palestine Solidarity Secretariat, which had organised a five-day picket called Kepung Demi Palestin in front of the US Embassy in Jalan Tun Razak in the capital back in December last year.

The protest was organised by Palestine Solidarity Secretariat, which had organised a five-day picket called Kepung Demi Palestin in front of the US Embassy in Jalan Tun Razak in the capital back in December last year. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
The protest was organised by Palestine Solidarity Secretariat, which had organised a five-day picket called Kepung Demi Palestin in front of the US Embassy in Jalan Tun Razak in the capital back in December last year. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

In response, Ambassador Edgard D. Kagan reportedly said the embassy respects Malaysians’ right to free speech, including calls for a free Palestine.

Quoted by Free Malaysia Today, Kagan also acknowledged that there has been past tension regarding Malaysians’ right to free speech and protest.

“We cherish that right even when it’s directed against us,” he reportedly told a press conference at the hotel.

“We know the sacrifices so many people have made fighting communists, terrorists to give people the right to speak freely.”

Last week, Malaysia called on the concerned parties to accept and work towards the full implementation of a recent proposal by US President Joe Biden to end Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said the proposal is the best way forward to end the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian Territory.