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October 14, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
14 Oct 07

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arrest of five persons who were protesting in Singapore about Burma on 8 October 2007. Four of them were holding a placard claiming the government of Singapore to stop dealing arms with the Burma. Even though they were peacefully holding the protest, they were charged. [UA-295-2007]

Case Details:

At around 1:50pm on 8 October 2007, four persons came to protest in front of the Singapore Prime Minister’s office to support democracy advocates in Burma. All 4 were members of opposition party, Singapore Democratic Party. Each one was holding a placard with the words “No Deals, No Arms, with the Junta” and “Free Burma”.

When they were holding peaceful protest, police in plain clothes warned them to disperse but they did not follow the order. Then the police arrested them, including a 5th man who filming them and took them to two police vans parked nearby. It is reported that the police refused to confirm the location where they were going to take them despite being asked and also failed to show the reason of arrest and charges against them. It was later known that they were charged under section 5(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance Act) 2002. Then they were released on bail of SGD 1,000 (USD 680) each in the evening.

Before their arrest, at 11am on the same day, they went to meet the ambassador of Burma to Singapore, U Win Myint, for the purpose of handing over the petition of about 1,100 individuals urging the government of Burma to stop assaulting the people and allow peaceful demonstrations and protest in the country. After waiting for a long time, one staff came out to take it to the ambassador but subsequently refused to take it.

Background Information:

The Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park is the only place in Singapore that doesn’t require a permit in order for someone to demonstrate. However, speakers also have to register with the nearby police post and they are not allowed to talk about issues related to race or religion. Despite this, government-supported or government-linked organizations frequently held public marches or assemblies, yet permits are never required.

The Article 14 of the Constitution of Singapore stipulates that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression, have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, and have the right to form associations. However, in practice, those rights guaranteed under the constitution are limited by the authorities.

The AHRC has earlier forwarded an appeal of petition for Chee Soon Juan for the freedom of movement. He was not allowed to leave the country to attend a meeting. For more details, please see FA-013-2006.

Suggested Action:

Please write letters to the authorities below and urge them to withdraw the charges against the peaceful protesters. Please note Myanmar instead of Burma in your letter.

To support this appeal, please write to:

1.Mr. Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister
Prime Minister’s Office
Orchard Road
Istana
Singapore 238823
SINGAPORE
Fax: +65 6835 6621
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected].gov.sg

2. S. R. Nathan
President
Office of the President
Istana, Orchard Road
Singapore 0922
SINGAPORE
Fax: +65 6735 3135
E-mail: [email protected]

3. Prof. S JAYAKUMAR
Minister of Law
100 High Street #08-02
The Treasury
Singapore 179434
SINGAPORE
Tel: +65 6332 8840
Fax: +65 6332 8842
E-mail: [email protected]

4. Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection
of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
c/o J Deriviero
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9177
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (Attn: Special Rapporteur Freedom of Expression)

[Suggested letter]:

Dear Sir,

SINGAPORE: Please drop charges against 5 persons who demonstrated in support of democracy in Myanmar

Name of victims:
1) Mr. Gandhi Ambalam (chairperson of Singapore Democratic Party)
2) Dr. Chee Soon Juan (secretary general of Singapore Democratic Party)
3) Mr. John Tan (assistant secretary general of Singapore Democratic Party)
4) Ms. Chee Siok Chin (a member of Central Executive Committee of Singapore Democratic Party)
5) Mr. Jeffrey George (videographer)

Date of incident: 8 October 2007
Place of incident: In front of Istana (Prime Minister’s Office), Singapore
Charged at: Chapter 184, section 5(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance Act)

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the arrest and charges against five persons who held a peaceful protest in front of Istana (Prime Minister’s Office) on 8 October 2007.

According to the information received, 4 were members of opposition party, Singapore Democratic Party. Each one was holding a placard with the words “No Deals, No Arms, with the Junta” and “Free Burma”. When they were holding peaceful protest, police in plain clothes warned them to disperse but they did not follow the order. Then the police arrested them, including a 5th man who filming them and took them to two police vans parked nearby. It is reported that the police refused to confirm the location where they were going to take them despite being asked and also failed to show the reason of arrest and charges against them. It was later known that they were charged under section 5(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance Act) 2002. Then they were released on bail of SGD 1,000 (USD 680) each in the evening.

I take notice of the fact that the Article 14 of the Constitution of Singapore stipulates that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression, have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, and have the right to form associations. However, in practice, those rights guaranteed under the constitution are limited by the authorities. Therefore, I urge you to drop charges against 5 persons who demonstrated in support of democracy in Myanmar.

I draw your attention to the fact that their activities, including a signature campaign for the people of Myanmar, attempt to hand over and their protest should be welcomed by the people of Singapore. Further, under the current circumstance, there are lots of concerns of security of Singaporeans living in Myanmar so that Singaporeans corresponding is highly required.

I look forward to your prompt action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,
XXX

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])
19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
998 Canton Road, Kowloon, Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: (852) 2698-6339 Fax: (852) 2698-6367