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Pastor Raymond Koh Abducted by Police, Inquiry Confirms

April 3, 2019 by Lindy Lowry in ,

Today [April 3, 2019], the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) released its findings and decisions on the disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and others—following a year-long inquiry into his disappearance. The report concludes that Pastor Koh was abducted by state police.

“The direct and circumstantial evidence in Pastor Raymond Koh’s case proves, on a balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by State agents namely, the Special Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur,” said Dato’ Mah Weng Kai, chairman of the panel that investigated Koh’s disappearance.

On February 13, 2017, Pastor Koh was kidnapped in broad daylight. A video capturing the abduction shows black SUVs and motorcycles acting with military precision. He has not been seen or heard from since that day.

The findings echo the information the Kohs received In May 2018 when a whistleblower came forward and implicated “very senior police officers” in the kidnappings of Koh and rights activist Amri Che Mat. Shortly afterward, the informant backpedaled and withdrew his claim.

The chairman pointed out the following similarities of the two cases:

  • Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat were targeted by religious authorities and the police on allegations that they were involved in matters against Islam in Malaysia.
  • There was direct surveillance on their activities before they disappeared.
  • Their disappearances bore uncanny similarities–how their cars were boxed in by three four-wheel drive vehicles and the people involved wore black clothing.
  • The presence of a gold Toyota Vios in both cases. In Amri’s case, a witness testified that he saw it parked near Amri’s house three days before his disappearance. In Raymond’s case, another witness testified that the car was at the scene of the kidnapping.

Susanna Koh: ‘We Want to See the Truth’

Responding to this conclusion, Pastor Koh’s wife, Susanna, said she would give the Special Branch six months to provide her with information about the whereabouts of her husband. If nothing is done, she said, she will consider legal action.

“This is the beginning of our fight for religious freedom and human rights,” she told press after the inquiry. Malaysia is 56 percent Muslim and less than 10 percent Christian. The country (No. 42 on the World Watch List) prohibits conversion from Islam to other religions.

“We want to see the people involved be investigated and brought to justice. It is a process, it will take time,”

At the end of the proceedings, Susanna, remarked, “We are glad that the decision has been made that they have been victims of enforced disappearances … We want to see the truth revealed. Until today, we just [didn’t] know why they were taken.[Malaysia is a moderate country, there should be the rule of law. There should be freedom of religion to practice one’s faith.”

Esther Koh, Raymond’s daughter, further added, “We were very affected. It has never been the same without him. Having to deal with the police has been stressful for all of us. Not knowing what happened, it is [an] ambiguous loss and causes mental stress.”

Open Doors is advocating, along with Susanna, for an “independent and impartial investigation” into allegations of police involvement.

“…  Only if the investigation is performed externally from the Royal Malaysian Police—with the investigator being given full authority to access all information and people—will the investigation provide assurances for the Malaysian citizens that the government takes corruption and unlawful acts seriously.”

Malaysia’s new government, elected in May last year, faces the challenge of balancing Malay Islamic predominance with ethnic and religious minorities, said Thomas Muller, research analyst with Open Doors’ World Watch Research unit.

Praying with the Kohs

  • Please pray for God to lead Susanna and her family in what to do next. Also, pray for His leading and direction for the Kohs’ lawyers and all who are directly involved in the case. 
  • Pray for the families who continue to grieve. Through tears, Susanna recounted her experiences and feelings during the proceedings. 
  • Pray that the Malaysian government takes positive steps on the recommendations made by SUHAKAM for freedom of religion as a human right, to enable all Malays to practice their faith without fear of persecution.
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