Suhakam concludes activist, pastor victims of enforced disappearance

Norhayati Mohd Arifin and Susanna Liew attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Norhayati Mohd Arifin and Susanna Liew attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) disclosed today its belief that the co-founder of the Perlis Hope group, Amri Che Mat, was a victim of enforced disappearance.

Commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai said the panel reached the unanimous conclusion based on evidence that showed individuals or groups operating with the support or sanction of state agents had been involved.

“The direct and circumstantial evidence in Amri Che Mat’s case proves, on a balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by State agents namely, the Special Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

“There was no evidence he was arrested or detained, but he was taken away and disappeared,” Mah said at the Suhakam inquiry here today.

Mah said the commission reached the same conclusion in the case of pastor Raymond Koh, who was abducted on February 13, 2017, three months after Amri.

He said similarities between the two include comparable methods, the involvement of religious issues, direct surveillance, and presence of a gold Toyota Vios in both.

“The modus operandi of the enforced disappearance of both cases bore uncanny similarities.

“The panel finds that Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh were both individuals targeted by religious authorities on allegations that they were involved in matters against Islam in Malaysia,” Mah said.

Suhakam commissioner, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, announces the findings of Suhakam’s public inquiry into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Suhakam commissioner, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, announces the findings of Suhakam’s public inquiry into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Mah said direct surveillance was carried out prior to both men’s disappearance, with Amri under the watch of the religious authorities and Special Branch in Kangar, Perlis.

The aforementioned gold Toyota Vios was seen parked near Amri’s house before his disappearance and was also present at the Koh’s scene of abduction, which Mah said “was no mere coincidence.”

Amri — a Muslim forex trader from Perlis who founded the social welfare organisation named Perlis Hope — was abducted near his home on November 24, 2016.

Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) alleged Amri, believed to be a Shiah, had also been bundled up into a car by masked men.

Putrajaya was urged to give immediate attention to the abduction cases, including the missing cases of couple Joshua Hilmi and Ruth Hilmi who disappeared since November 2016.

Suhakam held an inquiry to determine whether the disappearances were “enforced disappearances,” as defined under the International Convention for Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED), and if the police had taken adequate steps to investigate the disappearance.

The inquiry concluded last December.

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