Dozens join vigil in Dataran Merdeka for Pastor Koh, Amri

Norhayati Ariffin and Susanna Liew speak to participants who held a vigil for their husbands at Dataran Merdeka tonight.

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 60 people gathered at Dataran Merdeka tonight in solidarity with the families of missing activists Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat.

Susanna Liew and Norhayati Ariffin, the wives of Koh and Amri, stood hand in hand consoling each other, as they pleaded for their husbands’ return.

“Return our husbands to us!” they cried out, standing in one corner of the iconic square. “Give our children their fathers back!” said Norhayati.

Liew thanked those who came, and repeated her plea for information on her husband’s mysterious abduction in broad daylight early last year.

Koh’s abduction on Feb 13 last year in Petaling Jaya was caught on closed circuit TV cameras, showing several men in balaclavas using black SUVs to block his car. He has not been seen since.

Amri, who co-founded an NGO called Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016. His wife previously said that five vehicles had blocked his car before he was whisked away some 500 metres from their home in Bukit Chabang, Perlis.

An inquiry into their disappearance convened by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has heard of attempts to silence Amri for professing Shia Islam, the school of thought frowned upon by Islamic authorities in Malaysia.

Witnesses also spoke of the role of senior police officer Awaluddin Jalid, naming him a suspect in Amri’s disappearance.

The inquiry also heard that Koh had been accused of proselytising to Muslims, a charged denied by Liew.

In her speech today, Liew said she had not heard anything about her husband’s fate, except “silence”.

“We are getting impatient and we feel there is an urgency,” she said.

The vigil today ended with prayers, with participants singing the patriotic song “Sejahtera Malaysia”.

Also present was Thomas Fann, spokesman for Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED), a group formed in the wake of the mysterious disappearances of activists.

Fann urged the new government to reform the police force, adding that a task force outside of the force must be formed to investigate the disappearances.

“I am not saying all (police) are bad. There are so many more who are good and we thank God for them but there are, among them, bad apples who abuse power and give the force a bad name,” he said.