The wife of missing Malaysian Pastor Raymond Koh has vowed to continue fighting to find her husband, saying her faith compels her to believe he might still be found three years after his disappearance.
On Feb. 13, 2017, Koh was abducted in broad daylight in an organized operation involving 15 masked men. CCTV footage of the kidnapping, which took place as Koh drove through the middle-class neighborhood outside Kuala Lumpur where he lived, shows the entire incident took less than 46 seconds.
Though she and their three children still have no idea if Koh is dead or alive, the pastor’s wife, Susanna Liew, told AFP she is determined to uncover what happened.
"I have this quest to find the truth and to at least have some closure for me and my family," the 63-year-old said, later adding, “We do not know where he is, what condition he's in, and whether he is dead or alive. But I have hope, because I have faith."
Koh, who is ethnically Chinese, founded Hope Community, a nonprofit to serve the poor and underprivileged along with his wife. In 2011, authorities accused Koh of seeking to convert Muslims — an act forbidden by law in Malaysia. Though the allegations against Koh were later dropped, bullets were later sent to his home as a warning.
A task force was formed after Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission found last year that Malaysia’s Special Branch intelligence service was likely behind the disappearances of Koh and Muslim social activist Amri Che.
However, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in January that the task force needed more time to prepare its report.
"I think these [kidnappings] happened because there is a growing trend of radicalism," said Liew. "Our concern is that the religious teachers and students are being sent to the Middle East to be trained, and they come back with these conservative views, extreme views."
The AFP notes that one man has been charged in the case and accused of extortion and kidnapping. However, his trial, which began in 2018, is still ongoing and the alleged accomplices remain at large.
Meanwhile, Liew has continued to fight for her husband’s case to be solved, and in February filed a civil suit against current and former police officials because she did not receive any resolutions regarding her husband’s investigation.
"It's very difficult because we are frozen in grief,” she said.
In March, she was among 12 women honored with the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award. The award recognizes women who demonstrate “exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.”
"It meant a lot to me, because it shows me that the U.S. is serious about religious freedom," said Liew.
Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List ranks Malaysia as the 40th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution. Christians make up just 9% of the country’s population.
According to Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, Catholics and Methodists are monitored by authorities in Malaysia but nontraditional Protestant groups are more often targeted because they are usually more active in evangelizing.