KUALA LUMPUR: Forty-six civil society organisations came together today to form a special action group to highlight cases of missing persons, following the mysterious disappearances of several activists.
Led by rights group Suaram, the Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) also consists of electoral reforms coalition Bersih 2.0, PKR Youth, Lawyers for Liberty, Perlis Hope and Pusat Komas.
CAGED said it would push for the government to assist victims and their families in their pursuit of justice.
Concerns have been raised over the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth, and Perlis-based social activist, Amri Che Mat.
Koh was abducted in broad daylight on Feb 13 by several masked men, in what appeared to be a carefully planned operation.
Bersih steering committee member Thomas Fann questioned the police’s failure to solve the disappearances although they had been reported months ago.
“This group will create awareness of enforced disappearance cases and issues, and coordinate advocacy actions with citizen groups throughout the nation,” said Fann.
He said CAGED had written to the police to provide assurances that the authorities were not behind the disappearances.
“If the state is not involved, they should inform us. We would gladly help with the investigation of the cases as well,” Fann told a press conference today.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said “enforced disappearance” was a new issue in Malaysia which needed further attention.
He said the group would organise vigils and lobby for support from local and international agencies.
“Nationwide vigils will ensure that the enforced disappearance cases remain alive. We will not shut our mouth, we will keep the case alive.”
Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar recently caused a stir by telling the media to “shut up” and allow the police to do their work.
Khalid also rubbished allegations that his men were involved in Koh’s abduction.
Sevan said CAGED would lobby for support from agencies such as the Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED) under the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights (OHCHR).
He said the group had also submitted a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), and planned to make a report to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) on the conduct of the police in their investigation.
The group also set up a special hotline (011 2424 4877) and email address ([email protected]) to assist victims and family members in need of help.