Missing pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu were victims of enforced disappearance, although they did not find evidence that the couple was abducted by “agents of the state.”
That is the opinion of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam). On April 15, and according to International Christian Concern, the three-member panel that led the public inquiry said, unlike in the cases of social activist Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh, who were believed to be abducted by “agents of the state,” they found the missing couple’s case otherwise.
“However, it is the panel’s finding and a balance of probability the disappearance of both Joshua and Ruth are involuntary in nature,” former judge Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Md Yunus who led the panel as reported by Malaysiakini.
The commissioner also added that the couple’s disappearance was carried out “with acquiescence of the authorities.” The police had failed to prioritize cases of missing persons like Joshua and Ruth’s and did not investigate the couple’s case thoroughly.
Rama Ramanathan from the Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances said the police investigation “was sloppy, tardy and lacked seriousness” and the police and the government must take action.
The family of Ruth Sitepu, an Indonesian national, was hoping for more substantial findings from Suhakam into the disappearance of Ruth and her pastor husband. An Indonesian embassy staff told Free Malaysia Today, “The family was really counting on the findings of Suhakam to have some value in pushing the Malaysian authorities to reveal the facts of the case and produce something substantial to ease their pain.”
The Hilmy couple was last seen on Nov 30 2016, and reported missing on March 6 2017,. Their whereabouts remain unknown.
Raymond Koh is the most high profile of missing Christians in Malaysia. On 13 February 2017, Pastor Koh was abducted in broad daylight by secret state police in Malaysia. Five years on, after fighting tirelessly for answers, his wife, Susanna, and her family are no closer to finding out where he is – but she is not ready to give up yet.