Germans to help campaign against mandatory death sentence in Singapore

July 20, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Mr M Ravi is currently visiting Europe to publicise human rights abuses in Singapore and to alert Europe of the dubious practice of mandatory execution of small-time drug peddlers by the Government.

Mr Ravi was interviewed by Frankfurter Allegemeine, Germany’s leading national daily, regarding the impending execution of two African men for drug smuggling. The interview will be posted on this website when it becomes available. He was interviewed by Dr Peter Sturm who had also interviewed Mr Lee Hsien Loong when the Prime Minister visited Germany several months ago.

Dr Sturm’s interview of PM Lee took place on the day Nguyen Van Tuong was executed. Nguyen, an Australian, was executed for smuggling narcotics and was arrested while he was in transit at Changi Airport.

The journalist had asked Mr Lee questions about the death penalty in Singapore which the PM said was an internal matter and added abruptly that this was how the Government managed the system. Dr Sturm was stunned by the PM’s response which did not give any room for a rational discussion on Nguyen’s matter or the mandatory death sentence. It is obvious that the new PM is adamant about not discussing human rights issues both in Singapore as well as internationally.

Mr Ravi also met a prominent lawyer in Heidelberg who will ask German Members of Parliament to table a question about executions in Singapore as well as to table a Motion calling on the Singapore Government to stop the imminent execution of the African men as well as the use of the mandatory death penalty. A petition will also be launched over the next couple of weeks to support the Motion.

Mr Ravi’s work in Germany is coordinated by German citizens who have shown concern about the death penalty in Singapore since the infamous execution of Shanmugam, a Singaporeans who was hanged in May 2005 for smuggling 1 kg of marijuana into Singapore.

Germans have taken an interest in the death penalty in Singapore because a German national, Ms Julia Bohl, was spared the gallows in 2001 after German authorities leaned on the Singapore Government not to execute her when she was caught for trafficking heroin. Ms Bohl served a three-year jail term.

A German publisher will translate Hung At Dawn, a book written by Mr Ravi about the death penalty in Singapore, and will publish it in Germany. Proceeds from the sales will go towards future campaigns and assistance for families of those executed in Singapore.

Mr Ravi’s campaign in Germany is fueled by private German citizens, an example of how individual citizens can take the initiative instead of relying on the government for everything.

Following his visit to Germany, Mr Ravi will travel to Sweden to highlight the lack of democracy in Singapore. Prior to his German trip, he attended a course of human rights at Central Europe University in Budapest, Hungary and was in Hong Kong to take part in Amnesty International’s conference on the death penalty. While there, Mr Ravi had met with leading democrats including Mr Martin Lee, QC.