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On May 21st 1987, 22 young social workers, lawyers, businessmen, theatre practitioners and other professionals were detained without trial under the internal security law and accused of “being members of a dangerous Marxist conspiracy bent on subverting the PAP ruled government by force, and replacing it with a Marxist state.” A second wave of arrests took place on June 20th the same year.
The detainees were forced to make false confessions by the way of mental and physical torture. They were subjected to harsh and intensive interrogations, deprived of sleep and rest, some for as long as 70 hours in freezing cold rooms. All of them were stripped of their personal clothing, including spectacles, footwear and underwear and were made to change into prisoners’ uniforms.
Most of them were made to stand during interrogation for over 20 hours and under full blasts of air conditioning turned to the lowest temperature. Under those conditions, one of them was repeatedly doused with cold water. Most were hit in the face while others were assaulted on other parts of the body. Threats of indefinite detention without trial were also made to them should they continue to deny the intentions that they have been accused to harbour.
They were then compelled to appear on TV with their confessions and were told that their release would be dependent on their performance on TV.
On 21st May 2009, which marks the 22nd anniversary of ‘Operation Spectrum’, a group of concerned Singaporeans will be demonstrating against the treatment of the detainees who were detained without trial under the ISA. You are invited to come to Speakers Corner and remember this day with us.