The Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

The family of an Indonesian woman who married a Malaysian pastor and has been missing since 2016 is publicly seeking assistance from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Rudangta “Ruth” Sitepu, a North Sumatra native who was born Christian, went to Malaysia in 2000 to work as a seamstress. There, in 2004 she reportedly met Pastor Joshua Hilmy and married him on July 11 of the same year, the China Press reported.

Later, at a traditional wedding in Langkat regency, North Sumatra, in March 2006, the Sitepu family learned from the groom that he used to be a Muslim but had converted to Christianity, something which can be very difficult to achieve in Malaysia, and can draw considerable friction from members of the Muslim community.

The family has been worried for the safety of Ruth and her husband ever since they lost contact with them in 2016. They have received no response to Facebook messages or phone calls. They now fear that the couple may be victims of a “forced disappearance.”

Iman Setiawan Sitepu, Ruth’s youngest brother, made an emotional plea in an open letter to President Joko Widodo, calling on the government to ask Malaysia for assistance to find his missing sister, claiming that she had become “a victim of discriminatory actions” there.

The couple were last seen living in a house in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Their disappearance mirrored the disappearances of Christian pastor Raymond Koh and Shiite activist Amri Che Mat, with the cases sharing the same modus operandi, according to a Malaysian police statement.

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