Resolute in the face of police intimidation

May 31, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Calling for free speech in Singapore Several activists have been called up for questioning by the police for standing up for their rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly last year.

Fifteen local democracy advocates attended police investigations in the past several weeks to answer questions on their participation in two events: the World Bank-IMF meeting in September and on International Human Rights Day in December.

Teoh Tian Jing (left) and John Tan posing outside the station before their appointment with the police Despite the harassment, however, these human rights defenders remain defiant. In a signed statement as well as video-taped messages, the advocates reiterated their commitment to establishing their political and civil rights of Singaporeans.

Police surround the activists at Hong Lim ParkThe police have made outrageous allegations that the advocates have committed offences such as “counseling disobedience to the law”, “holding an assembly and procession without a permit”, and even “incitement to violence”.

In Sep 06, seven activists took part in a protest at Hong Lim Park during the World Bank-IMF meeting, calling for freedom of speech in Singapore. They were stopped by the police which turned the event into a 72-hour standoff.

On 10 Dec 06, several advocates conducted a Freedom Walk down Orchard Road to mark International Human Rights Day.

This is the first time that a group of Singaporeans have courageously stood up for their rights and they remain resolute in the face of police intimidation. They responded with dignity by going to the police stations to face the investigators.

Distributing leaflets on Human Rights DayThey even called on fellow Singaporeans to step forward and join them in their fight against the despotic PAP Government (see video). They also made appeals to the international community to pay attention to the continued repression in Singapore.

The group’s action will shine the spotlight on the PAP which is running out of ideas on how to improve Singapore and resorting to desperate measures to silence a population which is becoming more assertive.

The latest police action signals a regime increasingly at odds with the people it rules and it is a clear indication of a Government that is insecure and lacking in confidence.

One of the activists, Mr Jeffrey George, who is a staunch advocate of democratic values and practices, said: “Singaporeans must not be cowed by this bullying. We must show that our right to democracy and freedom is inalienable, it cannot be taken away from us.”

John Tan distributing human rights leaflets outside the police station when he was called for questioningMr John Tan, another democracy advocate, added: “I challenge the Government to live up to the pledge our children recite in school everyday, that is, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality.”

Mr Tan questioned how could Singaporeans feel proud when citizens “are hauled up for being patriotic?”

“How can we feel at home when we do not have basic human rights such as the freedom of speech and expression?” he asked. “The freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble are fundamental to the very definition of democracy. They are the elements that either make us a free people or a nation of slaves.”

Express your support for these courageous citizens who have found their voice and are standing up to the PAP. Write them a message of solidarity and encouragement ([email protected]).