This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.
I am grateful to our Russian correspondent Grigory Pasko, who has done his best to spread the world among the Russian human rights committee about the plight of my client Dr Chee Soon Juan, one of Singapore’s greatest defenders of democracy.
The response in Russia has been extraordinary, and below I attach a translation of a statement of support signed by Lev Ponomarev, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Sergei Kovalev, and several other human rights luminaries.
Ponomarev and company draw parallels between the predatory governments of both Singapore and Russia, remarking that “in our country people are persecuted who are unwanted by the powers, innocent people are subjected to criminal punishments. (…) We understand those feelings that are experienced by free-thinking people in Singapore, who, like us, want to see their country as a democratic state, free from persecutions in it of citizens for their convictions.”
DECLARATION of Russian defenders of human rights
We, Russian defenders of human rights, assess with deep indignation the fact of the latest arrest of the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Chee Soon Juan.
This time, the arrest took place in October of this year merely because Chee Soon Juan was expressing protest against the complete prohibition on public demonstrations and other political restrictions in the city-state, intended to conduct a rally, despite the threats of the police. Leader of the Singapore Democratic Party Chee Soon Juan is likewise being subjected to persecutions for criticism of the system of justice, expressed by him during the time of an open hearing, at which the leader of the Singaporean opposition was being accused of libel by the official powers of the country.
Earlier, he had been charged with libel and had been convicted after in the year 2006 he had published articles with the denunciation of corruption in the Singaporean government. In February of this year by decision of the court doctor Chee was declared bankrupt due to the inability to pay 500 000 Singaporean dollars (318 000 US dollars) for causing harm with «libellous statements» to the address of former prime-ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.
Human rights activists of many countries indicate that the actions of the government fully contradict the ideals expressed by ex-premier Lee Kuan Yew in the year 2004 at the ceremony of celebration of the 50th anniversary of the People’s Action Party: : “In our country not a single organization is subjected to oppression, prohibition or suppression. Our political culture values other principles – inviolability, elitism and the observance of fairness”.
We, Russian defenders of human rights, join with the defenders of Chee Soon Juan and demand of the Singaporean government his prompt release. Together with this we note that persecution for political motives is well known to us, Russians, because in our country such persecutions also take place. And in our country people are persecuted who are unwanted by the powers, innocent people are subjected to criminal punishments.
In the period of the election campaign, current president of the RF Dmitry Medvedev spoke on numerous occasions about what important significance for Russia has the principle of the supremacy of law. However, the words have remained just words. By our deep conviction, politically motivated criminal prosecutions and politically motivated court sentences are found in flagrant contradiction with the principle of supremacy of law.
It is precisely for this reason that we called on the president of the RF to pardon people who had become, in our opinion, victims of politically motivated prosecutions. Here are their names: Valentin Danilov, Igor Sutyagin, Igor Reshetin, Alexander Rozhkin, Sergey Vizir, Mikhail Ivanov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev, Alexey Pichugin, Vasily Alexanyan, Svetlana Bakhmina, Zara Murtazaliyeva, Zaurbek Talkhigov…
This is far from a complete list of Russian political prisoners. We understand those feelings that are experienced by free-thinking people in Singapore, who, like us, want to see their country as a democratic state, free from persecutions in it of citizens for their convictions. We express our solidarity with leader of the Singapore Democratic Party Chee Soon Juan, because we are personally experiencing the pressure of the powers for criticism of their actions, because we are fighting for free and honest elections, because we demand the release of political prisoners in Russia.
We are fighting for human rights, for freedom for political prisoners, against torture, tyranny and wars. We are acting as our conscience tells us to.
Freedom for Chee Soon Juan! Freedom for all political prisoners in Russia and throughout the world!
L.M. Alexeeva, Moscow Helsinki Group
S.A. Gannushkina, “Civic assistance” Committee
S.A. Kovalev, A. Sakharov Foundation
L.A. Ponomarev, Movement “For human rights”
Yu.A. Ryzhov, RAN academician
Yu.V. Samodurov, A. Sakahrov Museum and Public Center
A.K. Simonov, Glasnost defense foundation
E.I. Cherny, Public committee for the defense of scientists
G.P. Yakunin, Public committee for the defense of freedom of conscience
Robert Amsterdam is the Dr Chee’s and SDP’s lawyer. Hls law firm Amsterdam & Peroff is based in Toronto and London.