International Day of Enforced Disappearances and incidences of enforced dissapearances in Malaysia — Kasthuri Patto

AUGUST 29 — The Malaysian Government must acknowledge and admit incidences of enforced disappearances of Malaysians in our own backyard and be accountable to provide answers to the families including tabling the report to Parliament of the special taskforce set up on June 26 2019 when Tan Sri Muhyiddin was Minister of Home Affairs.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.” — Martin Luther King.

It has been 4 years that Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, the wife of Amri Che Mat who was abducted on November 24 2016 has been waiting for justice and an answer from the Government on the whereabouts of her husband.

Less than a week later Joshua Helmi and his wife Ruth were last seen alive at their home in Petaling Jaya. They were both threatened to “leave the country”.

Less than 3 months later, on February 13 2017 Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in Petaling Jaya. His wife Susanna Liew and their children are still waiting for answers from the Government.

The only thing linking the abductions of Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh were the modus operandi of abductions — both men abducted, ambushed and surrounded by a few cars and kidnapped — in broad daylight. Amri Che Mat was abducted only 550m from his house and was surrounded by 3 vehicles according to a witness. He and his car were ‘escorted’ out and his abandoned car stripped of identification was found by security guards at a construction site near Padang Besar.

Pastor Raymond Koh was kidnapped in Petaling Jaya surrounded by 3 black SUVs and involved about 15 men. The recording was captured on a CCTV from a neighbouring house. Prior to his kidnapping he received a box containing 2 bullets and a note.

All three men also share a common passion — to uphold the right and the freedom of religion and belief. They had no criminal record and were all men of faith.

Both wives had filed a civil suit against the former IGP Khalid Abu Bakar and Mohamad Fuzi Harun. Norhayati is suing former Home Ministers Ahmad Zahid Hamidi dan Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Datuk Awaludin Jadid who was formerly a principal assistant director of Special Branch’s Social Extremism Division and others because till date, neither have received any answer nor a closure on their husbands.

One can rightly raise their eyebrows on reasons or no reasons given by the Government as to why it is dragging its feet to bring closure to the families and for justice to be upheld. Especially when the knee-jerk reaction by the Malaysian Government and lighting speed investigation, prosecution and charging those involved in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on the same day that Pastor Raymond Koh was cruelly abducted by his attackers. In less than 2 years, the case was closed and dusted.

But nothing on Pastor Raymond Koh, Amri Che Mat and Joshua Helmi and his wife till today.

Due to inaction by the Government, SUHAKAM had conducted a public inquiry on the disappearances of both men Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat and found that the Special Branch was behind the abductions.

United Nations has stated that “enforced disappearances have frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society”.

“Both the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which came into force on 1 July 2002, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, a “forced disappearance” qualifies as a crime against humanity and, thus, is not subject to a statute of limitations. “It gives victims’ families the right to seek reparations, and to demand the truth about the disappearance of their loved ones”

Enforced disappearances had been used and is still used as a means by nations in conflict or war and often used by authoritarian Governments.

What is the Malaysian Government’s excuse in not pursuing the disappearances in these 3 cases?

What should it take for the Government to grow a spine and to assist these families who only want transparency, accountability and answers for their loved ones missing?

If Government agencies are involved then there is an even greater call for them to take stern action and to prosecute those responsible against this violation and crime against human rights.

Does this lackadaisical attitude by the Government towards the disappearance of Amri Che Mat, Pastor Raymond and Joshua Helmi a reflection of their possible involvement in their disappearances?

I urge the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who was former Home Minister to reveal and expose the findings of the task force set up to investigate the abductions of Pastor Raymond Koh, Amri Che Mat and into the disappearance of Joshua Helmi and his wife Ruth which is long overdue. 

Article 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law... There shall be no against citizens on the grounds only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law...” and Amri Che Mat, Pastor Raymond Koh and Joshua Helmi (and his wife) deserve that.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” – Martin Luther King.

On this day of enforced disappearances, may justice be served to all families awaiting closure and answers for their loved ones gone missing.

* Kasthuri Patto is a Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary for Wanita DAP.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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