Family of missing Ruth Sitepu want to bury her remains, if she is not returned alive

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The family of Ruth Sitepu, who vanished five years ago today with her husband Joshua Hilmy, has reminded the world that while her fate is unknown, she will not be forgotten.

In a statement today, they pleaded for some form of closure as to the whereabouts of their sister, saying that even if she is not returned alive, they would like to bury her remains.

“Today marks the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of our dear sister and brother-in-law, Ruth Sitepu and Joshua Hilmy.

“They were last seen on this date in 2016, leaving their home in Malaysia.

“We have not heard from them since. We have not been able to reach them either, and nobody seems to know their whereabouts,” they said.

Ruth – a Christian-born native of Sumatra – had lived in Malaysia since 2000, where she worked as a seamstress and met Joshua. The couple married four years later.

Her siblings said that Ruth is a responsible and caring person who came to Malaysia to work and support the family.

“Instead, she went missing along with her husband. It is unlike her to have disappeared intentionally.

“Even after getting married and moving to Malaysia, she regularly kept in touch with us (her family) via messages and calls,” they said.

Vanished into thin air

While lamenting that it took more than three years after they were last seen for a public inquiry on their disappearance to start on Feb 18, 2020, the family thanked the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and Indonesia’s Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) for their commitment.

“Even with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that they will follow up with their counterpart in Malaysia, we still do not know where our sister, Ruth, is.

“Ruth is a human being. She is our sister. She has family. Even if they met with tragedy, we just want closure.

“Please return her remains to us.

“People do not and cannot just vanish into thin air, with no trace,” they said.

Her family said they look forward to the conclusion of the public inquiry, which they hope will shed light on what happened to Ruth and Joshua.

The couple’s disappearance bears a resemblance to that of pastor Raymond Koh and NGO Perlis Hope co-founder Amri Che Mat.

Koh was abducted in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13, 2017, while Amri was last seen on Nov 24, 2016.

Suhakam’s 2019 report on its public inquiry into the disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat concluded that enforced disappearance “enforced disappearance carried out by the Special Branch”, the police’s intelligence unit, had indeed taken place.

A task force named by then home minister Muhyiddin Yassin to look into Suhakam’s findings from the public inquiry was full of high-ranking police figures and other enforcement officials and had, to date, never reported its findings. – Malaysiakini