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Malaysia: Calls to free abducted pastor

April 2020

Pastor Raymond Koh
Source: Pastor Raymond Koh’s family
see image info

Release International has ramped up pressure on the Malaysian government to set free a Christian pastor who was abducted in a military-style operation three years ago.

CCTV cameras captured the moment Pastor Raymond Koh was snatched off the streets in Selangor by a well-organised team back in February 2017.

Evidence points towards a disciplined and highly trained snatch squad, with footage showing three black SUVs surrounding and boxing in Pastor Koh’s car, forcing it to a halt. Two other cars and two motorcycles were also involved in the kidnapping.

Several men then ran towards Pastor Koh’s vehicle before the entire convoy was driven away. One passer-by, whose vehicle entered the scene, was warned off.

Pastor Koh’s wife Susannah described the kidnapping to Release International’s sister organisation Voice of the Martyrs (USA): ‘It was a very military-style organisation, well-organised, and done in about 40 seconds. Last year, one of the officers confessed that the operation, the abduction, was done by the police.’

In 2019, Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission accused the Malaysian Special Branch of carrying out two abductions – that of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat, a Shia Muslim social activist.

Both were suspected of trying to convert Sunni Muslims. Both were boxed in by vehicles in similar snatch operations, and both have disappeared. Another pastor, Joshua Hilmy, and his wife Ruth, also went missing in 2016.

Pastor Koh ran Hope Community, an organisation set up in the capital Kuala Lumpur to help the poorest members of society. In 2011 Hope Community came under scrutiny by authorities, who accused him of trying to convert Muslims during a party at a local church.

Paul Robinson, chief executive of Release International, said, ‘We’re demanding Pastor Raymond’s immediate release and safe return to his family. And we’re calling for justice. Those responsible for his disappearance must be held accountable.’