Two years on from the abduction of Malaysian pastor Open Doors urges action

On 13 February 2017, Raymond Koh was abducted with military precision that implied a coordinated attack by trained individuals. In the attack, which was caughton CCTV, at least 10 men in black SUVs blocked a major road during broad daylight, bundled Raymond out of his car and abducted him in under a minute. He has not been seen since.

Open Doors is urging the Malaysian Government to throw its entire weight behind locating Pastor Koh and three other individuals who went missing around the same time. Christian husband and wife, Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu, were last seen in November 2016, while Shia Muslim activist, Amri Che Mat, was abducted in a highly professional operation very similar to that of Raymond Koh also in November 2016.

Zoe Smith, Head of Advocacy at Open Doors, said:

“The facts of this case are utterly outrageous. We urge the new Malaysian government to expose the truth behind these abductions and to root out the corruption which allegedly led to their disappearances.”

A whistle blower claimed that Raymond Koh was targeted for having a minority faith and that the abduction was carried out with the full knowledge and approval of the then Inspector General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar. A Human Rights Commission into the disappearance concluded 7 December 2018. The Commission’s response is expected in March 2019.

Raymond Koh’s wife, Susanna, told Open Doors about the day Raymond went missing and the inquiry into the event:

“I received a lot of missed calls, when I saw the calls I quickly responded and found out my husband had missed some very important meetings, which is not his usual self. He is very punctual, very committed and consistent. That raised a panic in me.”

Susanna filed a missing person’s report in the police station but to her shock, she was questioned for five hours over Raymond’s disappearance.

“They asked me about my husband’s activities. My husband and I started a social organisation we worked among the poor, the needy, people infected with HIV AIDS and single mothers. He was reaching out to people of all races of all religions.”

Susanna also said that she thought the inquiry into Raymond’s disappearance was moving so slowly due to fear:

“Most of the police investigators are of the Muslim faith. If they were to do something to help they would be seen as anti-Islam so that is why I think they are taking their hands off. 

“It’s been a long and difficult journey because of the uncertainty. We don’t know where he is, who has taken him or how he is. We are thankful for the support of the local churches and Christians all over the world and their prayers.”

Malaysia is number 42 on the Open Doors WorldWatch List. Pressure on Christians is intensifying as the government and Islamic pressure groups increase their efforts to side line the Christian minority.

Ethnic Malays are considered to be Muslims, and the constitution prevents Malays from converting to other religions. Non-Malay people, which includes most Christians, are treated as second class citizens.

Christians from Muslim backgrounds often hide their faith and meet together in secret. If discovered, they could face rejection from their family, or be forced to divorce their partner. Occasionally they may be sent to a re-education camp, or simply ‘disappear’.

Churches are monitored by the government. It is illegal to share the gospel with Malay Muslims.

Erin James

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