IS THERE AN ATTEMPT TO FABRICATE A “LINK” TO PASTOR RAYMOND KOH’S ABDUCTION?

Press Release by the Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED)
30th August, 2017

We refer to the Open Letter to IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar from Susanna Liew, the wife of Pastor Raymond Koh, released today.

The letter has exposed that the IGP has exercised double standards. This is so because he urged the family not to speak to the media about the abduction, but himself cavalierly and carelessly spoke to the media about the abduction.  Also, the police spoke more to the media and less to the victim’s grieving and restless family.

We applaud Susanna for boldly saying so in public and call upon the police to apologize for their negligence and to act more professionally in the future.

Yet, we at CAGED are particularly alarmed by the allegation of inconsistencies between (1) the IGP’s announcement on 25 June of “new leads” found after a “main player” in an arms, drugs and human trafficking syndicate was shot dead in Kedah and (2) the Kedah Chief of Police (CPO), Datuk Asri Yusoff’s 18 June press conference about the shootout, a day after it occurred.

The open letter has pointed out that in his press conference, the Kedah CPO listed items recovered from the car of the “main player” and from his house.

The Kedah list included 2 car number plates, WNS5168 and BNW217. It did not include any objects related to Pastor Raymond Koh. Yet, on 25 June the IGP said the Kedah police had seized, from the house of the “main player,” a number plate bearing the letters ST5515D, the registration number of the car Pastor Koh was driving when he was abducted.

CAGED therefore asks IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to answer these questions:

  1. Why is number plate ST5515D not included in the list of seized items released by the Kedah Police on 18 June?
  2. Did you fabricate the claim that Pastor Raymond Koh’s number plate was found in the dead suspect’s house?

We at CAGED are sure the public at large would want to hear the IGP’s answers to the above 2 questions.

If the IGP does not provide a satisfactory response, we will have to conclude that he fabricated the “link” between the dead smuggler and Pastor Raymond Koh’s abduction.  And, we will ask, why do the police find it necessary to fabricate evidence?

Statement issued by:

The Committee of CAGED

For further information please contact CAGED at +603 7954 5724 or email at [email protected]

Forum-Asia: Malaysia – Cease harassment of Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (CAGED)

(Bangkok, 2 June 2017) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) calls on the Government of Malaysia to cease the persecution of the newly established Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearances (CAGED), which FORUM-ASIA member Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) holds the Secretariat for, and instead focus on recent cases of enforced disappearances in the country. The Government should start with declaring the cases as enforced disappearances; conducting thorough, impartial, and independent investigations into the disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Pastor Raymond Koh; and initiate the ratification process of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED).

The last half year has seen a worrying increase in disappearances in Malaysia. Amri Che Mat, age 43, was abducted on 24 November 2016. Amri is a co-founder of the charity organisation Perlis Hope. Amri had been accused of spreading the teachings of Shia, which has been deemed haram (forbidden) by the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia. Amri was disappeared at Bukit Chabang, Perlis.

Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu were likely abducted on 30 November 2016. Pastor Joshua, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, had been suspected of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. While there is little information about what happened to them, a friend of the couple filed a police report after not having been able to reach or locate them for an extended period of time. According to the police, the complainant could not provide sufficient information for them to take any action.

Pastor Raymond Koh, age 62, disappeared in the morning of 13 February 2017. CCTV footage, which is publicly available, shows the Pastor exiting a highway in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur when numerous black SUVs and motorcycles block his car. Several men are seen exiting the cars and running to Pastor Raymond. After a while the convoy drives away. Beyond this, nothing more is known about his whereabouts. The abduction of Pastor Raymond and of Amri were reportedly very similar.

Pastor Raymond headed Harapan Komuniti, a church-based charity organisation that helps, among other things, distribute food to people of all faiths. Pastor Raymond had also been accused of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity, and had, as such, received threats before.

In response to this rise in disappearances, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, CAGED, was established on 5 May 2017. SUARAM holds the Secretariat of CAGED. Since its foundation, CAGED has issued statements and helped hold candle-light vigils to commemorate the disappeared across Malaysia.

Article 2 of the ICPPED defines enforced disappearances as:  ‘the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law’.

Based on this definition, CAGED has issued statements calling on the Government of Malaysia to address the enforced disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Pastor Raymond Koh. In direct response to this, the Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted that the allegations were shocking, and called for the involved non-governmental organisations to be summoned for questioning.

On 24 May 2017, Executive Director of SUARAM, Sevan Doraisamy, CAGED spokesperson, Thomas Fann, and Rama Ramanathan from Bersih 2.0 were summoned to clarify their claims that the cases were enforced disappearances under Section 505(B) of the Penal Code. The three, were summoned as witnesses, refused to answer many of the questions put to them, and instead responded they would only answer the questions in court.

The cases of Amri and Pastor Raymond have already been reported to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). However, as filing such a report requires permission from the family, this has not been done yet for Pastor Joshua and his wife Ruth. Statements condemning the disappearances of Amri and Pastor Raymond have been issued by the United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia.

FORUM-ASIA firstly calls on the Government of Malaysia to cease the harassment of Sevan Doraisamy, Thomas Fann, and Rama Ramanathan, and all others involved with CAGED. Instead, the Government should prioritise the investigations into the disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu, and Pastor Raymond Koh, and recognise these as enforced disappearance. Finally, the Government should immediately ratify the ICPPED without any further delay, and fulfil all obligations that come with it.

***

For a PDF version of this statement, please click here.

For further information, please contact:

– Communication and Media Team, FORUM-ASIA, [email protected]

United Nations – 23 May 2017

The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia expresses serious concern regarding the recent disappearances of community workers Amri Che Mat and Raymond Keng Joo Koh, and urges Malaysian authorities to urgently investigate the abductions of the two men associated with religious minority groups.

Mr. Che Mat, founder of the NGO Perlis Hope which provides assistance to the underprivileged, disappeared on 24 November 2016, and Mr. Koh, founder of Harapan Komuniti (Hope Community) that undertakes social and charity work among marginalized and underprivileged communities, disappeared on 13 February 2017. According to sources, both men were driving alone when they were forced to stop by a convoy of vehicles and swiftly taken away. Neither of the two men have been seen since. Mr Koh’s abduction was captured on CCTV, and footage showed at least eight masked individuals dressed in black taking him away. Despite official reports being lodged with police, the authorities have provided very little information on these two cases.

Mr. Che Mat had previously been accused of “deviant” Shia teachings in Malaysia, which endorses only the Sunni denomination of Islam. Mr. Koh, a Christian pastor, had previously been investigated by Malaysian religious authorities for “proselytizing Muslims” and had also received death threats due to his work.

“We are gravely concerned for the safety and well being of the two men and we fear they may have been abducted due to their community work,” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok. “We call on the Malaysian Government to conduct a prompt investigation to establish their whereabouts, and to keep their families informed of any developments.

“Enforced disappearances are rare in Malaysia and it is deeply concerning that little progress has been made into these cases,” said Meillan.

The UN Human Rights Office calls on the Malaysian Government to urgently sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Original statement available at UN Bangkok Facebook

Malaysia: Investigate two possible cases of enforced disappearance

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization in Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Malaysia: Investigate two possible cases of enforced disappearance

Kuala Lumpur, Paris, 16 May 2017: Malaysian authorities must immediately conduct swift, thorough, and impartial investigations into the disappearances of a social worker and a pastor, FIDH, its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), and the civil society coalition Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) urged today.

The three groups made the call a day after FIDH submitted two communications related to the cases to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).[1] Between 1980 and 2016, the WGEID received only two other cases of enforced disappearance in Malaysia – neither case is still open.

“It is extremely troubling that the specter of enforced disappearance has reared its ugly head in Malaysia. Malaysian authorities must immediately investigate the disappearance of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh in order to determine their whereabouts and safely return them to their families,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

FIDH, SUARAM, and CAGED also call on the authorities to take measures to protect those who are involved in the investigations from any act or threat of violence, intimidation, or reprisal. This includes complainants, witnesses, relatives of the disappeared persons, their lawyers, and NGOs.

Christian pastor and social worker Raymond Koh was abducted on the morning of 13 February 2017 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor State, while he was driving his car to meet a friend in a Petaling Jaya suburb. Mr. Koh never arrived at his intended destination. The examination of CCTV footage from various security cameras of houses near the place of his abduction showed a silver car, believed to be driven by Mr. Koh, being surrounded by three black SUVs. The SUVs forced Mr. Koh’s car to stop at about 10:30am. At least eight masked men dressed in black came out of the SUVs before a struggle ensued. Less than one minute later, video footage showed that both Mr. Koh and his car had been removed from the scene and driven away. Two cars and two motorbikes followed the convoy. To date, neither Mr. Koh nor his car have been found. Broken glass and Mr. Koh’s car license plate were later found at the scene.

According to an eyewitness account, Amri Che Mat, the founder of a local community NGO called Perlis Hope, was abducted on the night of 24 November 2016 after being stopped by a five-vehicle convoy roughly 550 meters from his house located in Kangar, Perlis State. Mr. Amri was on his way to meet a friend in Jitra, Kedah State. An eyewitness said that roughly 15 to 20 people were involved in the kidnapping. Eyewitnesses wanted to intervene but they made a retreat when they saw that the assailants were carrying firearms and had pointed them at Mr. Amri’s vehicle. Mr. Amri was forced into one of the kidnappers’ cars and the convoy drove off. On 25 November 2016, at 12:30am, a security guard at a school in Padang Besar, Perlis State (about 20km from Mr. Amri’s house), discovered Mr. Amri’s car moments after two vehicles had entered and then only one vehicle had left the school compound. The windscreen and side windows of Mr. Amri’s car had been smashed.

Several elements strongly suggest the involvement of individuals with ties to state actors in both abductions. First, the abductions appeared to have been carefully planned and were professionally executed, with both operations taking less than 60 seconds. Second, the abductors appeared to be well funded (they had several vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks) and – in the case of Amri Che Mat’s abduction – possessed firearms. Finally, to date, no ransoms have been demanded, nor have the families been contacted directly or indirectly by the abductors – a fact that suggests the abduction was not carried out for monetary gain.

Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar has made numerous public statements that illustrate animosity towards the parties demanding a thorough investigation and provided no meaningful information on the status of the police investigation.

On 6 March 2017, Mr. Khalid told a press conference “to please shut up” and allow the police to investigate Raymond Koh’s abduction. Khalid also dismissed allegations that government special forces were involved in Mr. Koh’s abduction. On 20 March 2017, Khalid said that the police investigations were at a stalemate and blamed the media and the publicity for the lack of progress. “To the media, individuals and NGOs who want to get involved in kidnap cases, shut your bloody mouth,” he warned. On 6 April 2017, Khalid was quoted by numerous news media as saying that instead of focusing on the abductors, police were investigating Mr. Koh’s activities. The police also criticized the dissemination of information about Mr. Amri’s disappearance on social media and claimed that it endangered his safety.

“Instead of trying to sweep these two serious crimes under the carpet, the Malaysian authorities must seriously investigate these two disappearances and inform the victims’ relatives about the progress and results of the investigations. The government should also immediately begin the process of ratifying the convention on enforced disappearance,” said SUARAM Executive Director and CAGED member Sevan Doraisamy.

Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) defines enforced disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” Articles 3 and 12 of the ICPPED impose on state parties an obligation to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearances. Malaysia is not a state party to the ICPPED. However, the ICPPED codifies international law applicable to enforced disappearance and is universally applicable.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: +60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

 


[1] The WGEID is a body that the United Nations established to assist families of disappeared persons in determining their fate or whereabouts. The WGEID receives and reviews cases of enforced disappearance and transmits them to governments concerned to request that an investigation be carried out in order to clarify the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared persons.

The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, is an international human rights NGO representing 184 organizations from close to 120 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

THE FORMATION OF THE CITIZEN ACTION GROUP ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (CAGED)

5 May 2017

THE FORMATION OF THE CITIZEN ACTION GROUP ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (CAGED)

Today we wish to announce the formation of the Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) to monitor cases of enforced disappearance in Malaysia.

In the last two months, civil society organisations led by Suaram has been monitoring with great concern the mysterious abductions of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat, and the disappearance of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth.

After more than 5 months since the disappearances of Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy and Ruth, and coming to 3 months since Raymond Koh’s abduction, the police are no closer to solving these crimes. Based on CCTV footage and eye-witness accounts of the abductions of Pastor Raymond and Amri, where professionally trained personnel seem to be involved and the fact that till today no ransom demands have been made for all cases, we should assume that they are victims of “enforced disappearance”.

Article 2 of the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance defined “Enforced Disappearance” as…

“…the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”

The objectives of CAGED are :

  1. To push the State to respect and to inform the public in general, the fundamental right to life, personal liberty, the right to move freely and the right to a fair trial of all persons within our borders.
  2. To help victims and their families to seek justice and redress.
  3. To create awareness of the cases and issues of enforced disappearance to the public so that the horrors of enforced disappearance are exposed and rejected by society.
  4. To coordinate advocacy actions with citizen groups throughout the nation and globally.

With the formation of CAGED, we wish to announce the following initiatives, some of which are a continuation of what the working group have started even before formation.

  1. On 7th April, 2017, we came out with a statement that was endorsed by 46 non-governmental organisations (NGO), urging the police to use all resources available to them to resolve these cases and to regularly update the families and the public. We will continue to get more organisations to endorse the statement and the work of CAGED.
  2. To coordinate nationwide solidarity vigils for the missing persons until there is a closure to each case. Vigils have been organised in over 10 cities and towns nationwide. It is our aim to coordinate them so that we could have at least TWO vigils every week with each location only needing to hold it ONCE a month. In this way, we would ensure that this issue will remain alive in the public sphere and that the missing are not forgotten.
  3. To lobby for support and action from local agencies so that pressure will be brought to bear on the State to resolve and to respond to these enforced disappearances. We have already submitted a memorandum to Suhakam (Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia) and we plan to make a report to The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) on the conduct of the investigation by the police thus far.
  4. To lobby for support and action from international agencies like the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED) under the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other international advocacy groups.
  5. To assist family of victims who may need help to highlight their plight and seek justice, we are launching a special hotline phone number and an e-mail address they can contact us on. The hotline number is +6(0)11-2424 4877 and the e-mail address (click here)

There is a possibility that there are other victims of enforced disappearance that we are unaware of. The families and friends of victims can contact us and we will maintain confidentiality if requested. We are particularly interested in the disappearances of people working on political, religious or social issues and where no ransom monies were demanded.

The issue of enforced disappearance is a new issue in Malaysia. Whether committed by State-sanctioned agencies or not, it is a crime committed against a person and it has no place in a civilised society. If we are not a nation governed by the rule of law, we are becoming a lawless nation. If as citizens we do not speak up our rejection of enforced disappearance, we become complicit to it and would only encourage repetitions of it.

Say No to Enforced Disappearance!

Statement issued by the Citizens’ Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED)