Ruth Sitepu’s sister raises spectre of enforced disappearance at Suhakam inquiry

Ram Ram Elisabeth Sitepu at the Suhakam inquiry into her sister’s disappearance today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The younger sister of Ruth Sitepu, who went missing together with her husband Joshua Hilmy in 2016, told a Suhakam inquiry today that she believed it was a case of enforced disappearance.

Ram Ram Elisabeth Sitepu, 48, said she was convinced that her sister had been forcibly taken as they normally kept in touch through the phone.

“Even if she went anywhere, she would always call us to ask about us,” she said when testifying at the inquiry into the duo’s disappearance.

She also dismissed the suggestion by a police officer when lodging a report on her sister’s disappearance in 2018 that Ruth had intentionally gone missing.

She said Ruth’s fridge in her home in Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya, had been filled with food when she visited on Feb 28, 2018. She noted however that the food “was not fresh”.

“If she wanted to disappear, she wouldn’t leave food in the fridge.

“So we thought it could be enforced disappearance,” she said, adding that the Christmas decorations had still been up as well.

Ram Ram, the sixth witness to be called, broke down as she recalled the moment she was informed that her sister and brother-in-law were missing.

She said she was informed of this by a friend of Ruth’s, known only as Imelda.

“We were sad, and we cried because we didn’t know anyone in Malaysia and we didn’t know who to ask for help.”

Ruth and her husband Joshua, a Malay Muslim who converted to Christianity, have been missing for over three years. They were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.

Ram Ram, who is a Muslim convert, said the family knew that Joshua was a Muslim who had converted to Christianity.

“He told us he was a Muslim but became a Christian before he married Ruth,” she said, adding that Joshua had also told them that he was a pastor.

When asked her opinion of the investigations into her sister’s disappearance, Ram Ram said she was disappointed as she had yet to receive any updates.

She pleaded for Ruth’s return, bursting into tears once more.

“I hope that we can find Ruth. We want to know of her condition. We want to meet her. We are worried.

“We are family. We miss Ruth. We love her. For those who know where they are, please return her to us. Her family is waiting for her.”

She also said she did not know if Ruth or Joshua had been threatened.

Suhakam previously held public inquiries into the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and Perlis activist Amri Che Mat. The inquiry panel concluded that they were victims of enforced disappearance.