Joint statement by international human rights NGOs condemns sentencing of human rights defender Jolovan Wham

We, the undersigned human rights organisations, strongly condemn the politically-motivated prosecution of Singaporean human rights defender Jolovan Wham. After convicting Wham in January 2019 of ‘organising a public assembly without a permit,’ the State Court sentenced him, on 21 February, to a fine of S$3,200 (US$2,367), or by default, 16 days in prison.

The imposition of a criminal punishment that stems solely from the peaceful exercise of the right to peaceful assembly directly contravenes international human rights law and standards and is a blatant attempt to silence an outspoken human rights defender.

Activists and human rights defenders in Singapore regularly face harassment, investigation, and unfounded charges for no other reason than expressing their views and organising peaceful gatherings. The sentencing of Jolovan Wham on charges violating his fundamental rights is emblematic of the lengths to which the Singaporean authorities are willing to go to silence and punish peaceful dissent.

On 26 November 2016, Wham organized an event titled ‘Civil Disobedience and Social Movements’ at the Agora, an indoor event space and bookstore in Sin Ming Lane. The event featured speakers including Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who joined the discussion via Skype. Wham was subsequently charged with ‘organising a public assembly without a permit,’ under the Public Order Act.

A long-time human rights defender, Wham has gained prominence for highlighting issues concerning the right to freedom of expression. His criminal punishment is clearly meant to deter others in the country from sharing differing views or criticising the government.

Wham was previously convicted on spurious charges of contempt of court. In October 2018, the High Court of Singapore found Wham guilty of contempt for a Facebook post in April 2018 in which he stated that “Malaysia’s judges are more independent than Singapore’s for cases with political implications.” Opposition politician John Tan was also convicted of contempt of court for stating on Facebook in May 2018 that Wham’s prosecution “only confirms that what he said is true.” The sentencing of both men, set to take place on 20 March 2019, is part of the Singaporean authorities’ continued campaign to silence government critics.

Wham’s sentencing and the further charges he is facing for peaceful expression and assembly, reflect Singapore’s ongoing crackdown on these rights, which looks set to worsen ahead of possible elections. The cases below underscore the breadth of the crackdown.

In October 2018, the State Court of Singapore convicted artist and activist Seelan Palay for carrying out an “illegal assembly” under the Public Order Act, imposing a fine of S$2,500 (US$1,849). Seelan Palay had stood outside Parliament in October 2017 with a piece of art commemorating former political prisoner Chia Thye Poh. The lone protestor was arrested by seven police officers.

In December 2018, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong filed defamation charges against blogger Leong Sze Hian, after he shared an article on his Facebook page, which alleged that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had links to the Malaysian 1MDB financial scandal.

That same month, the Attorney General’s Chamber charged Terry Xu, the editor of the internet news outlet The Online Citizen, with defamation for publishing an article in September 2018 that linked the government to corruption allegations. The Online Citizen regularly publishes articles critical of the government. If convicted, Xu faces a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment or a fine, or both. The author of the article, Daniel Augustin De Costa, faces the same charge, as well as a further charge of “unauthorised access to computer material” under the Computer Misuse Act.

These examples show the systematic harassment and intimidation faced by a wide spectrum of actors, including artists, journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and political activists simply for the peaceful expression of their views.
In hope of reversing this alarming trend, we call on the Singaporean authorities to:

Quash the convictions against Jolovan Wham and Seelan Palay, who were prosecuted solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Drop the defamation charges pending against Leong Sze Hian, Terry Xu, and Daniel Augustin De Costa.
Repeal or substantially amend all repressive laws that unduly curtail the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and put in place adequate legal mechanisms and procedures to ensure that these rights are enjoyed by all and not subject to unlawful restrictions.
End the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, including through the misuse of the criminal justice system, and ensure they can pursue their human rights work without fear of reprisals.
Signatories:

Amnesty International
ARTICLE 19
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Human Rights Watch

 

 

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9 Responses to “Joint statement by international human rights NGOs condemns sentencing of human rights defender Jolovan Wham”

  • 有难人民当,有福人民行动党自己享:

    How many of such kind of statements have we already been seen being sent to our gahmen? Anything done? Anything changed? All their letters must have have landed in waste bins! Those arrogant idiots couldn’t care two hoots!

    Those bulLees fears nothing and no one when they’re in power and full control. Only people’s votes in GE could remove their power. Only by voting them out will we see change.

    As LHY has asked, “Is this the kind of government we want?”

    Like Khush Chopra has called out, “People of Singapore unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Vote Them Out.”

    Or what Lim Tean has said, “If we have a government that does not look after Singaporeans, I say bye bye to you.”

    Fellow singaporeans, this is definitely not the government we want. If our government treats citizens this way, let’s just say bye bye and Vote Them Out!

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  • 5 yr old even knows:

    these orgs have to push for international sanctions on the dictatorship regime

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  • OnlyMedicine_VTO:

    The big bullies arent afraid of local sheeples..bcuz
    ..they have their brave n loyal Gurkhas to defend them should one day locals cause so much as a defiant protest..
    So sickening…the miws are bullying cowards hiding behind a foreign security force.

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  • LIONS:

    You know what?
    The PAPie$$$ actually *contribute* to many of these NGOs either on govt level or via GLCs.

    So,outwardly,it seems they support *democracy* n human rights.
    InwardLEE,its a dictatorship?

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  • Selfish Sinkie Syndrome:

    5 yr old even knows:
    these orgs have to push for international sanctions on the dictatorship regime

    Please don’t do such stupid things as sanctions.
    It has not worked and it will never work. International sanctions from the outside will only impose hardship on the common people.

    Just look at North Korea, Iran, Syria and many others. The well-protected idiots at the top will still enjoy life for many many decades, while the common people may even have to eat tree bark or starve to death.

    The only way out for us is to VTO asap.
    However, I fear it may be too little too late.
    Even today, you can see one too many with SSS (Selfish Sinkie Syndrome) that will still sing praises for their Leegime.

    This is just like how even today, there are many North Koreans who honestly and sincerely sing praises with tears in their eyes, for their leader Kim and believe him to be an actual God-incarnate.

    Asian have twisted mindsets full of false cultural beliefs inherited from thousands of years of historically “learned subservience” and grovelling towards authority figures.

    If you offer Sinkies a choice between genuine Democracy (defined as rule by the people) and an over-powering, top-down & singular authoritarian Mr. Strong-Man style system, which do you think Sinkies will chose? Ha!

    I can tell you most Sinkies will chose the singular Mr. Strong-Man who rules with an iron-fist. Asian mindsets are like little children with no independent thinking process and can easily be “trained” or “warped” with a little suggestion.

    In a strange way, many Asians are fearful of real Freedom and Choice. They simply cannot handle total responsibility for their own lifes, and so they often revert and resort to wishing for (and eventually realizing) a singular Emperor-like ruler to chart their entire life for them.

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  • Bapak:

    Problem is we have 70% idiotic fools who do not know the damages that Pinky & Party causes. This group don’t see things beyond tomorrow. Nincompoop Sinkies!

    有难人民当,有福人民行动党自己享:
    How many of such kind of statements have we already been seen being sent to our gahmen? Anything done? Anything changed? All their letters must have have landed in waste bins! Those arrogant idiots couldn’t care two hoots!

    Those bulLees fears nothing and no one when they’re in power and full control. Only people’s votes in GE could remove their power. Only by voting them out will we see change.

    As LHY has asked, “Is this the kind of government we want?”

    Like Khush Chopra has called out, “People of Singapore unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Vote Them Out.”

    Or what Lim Tean has said, “If we have a government that does not look after Singaporeans, I say bye bye to you.”

    Fellow singaporeans, this is definitely not the government we want. If our government treats citizens this way, let’s just say bye bye and Vote Them Out!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • jovina choi is Sporean?:

    we are jobless Sporeans living in Aljunied.

    we confess we are kiasi. although we are boiling blood each time we read hear see of clown pap abuse of power, we kiasi and will not participate in hong lim park or any protest that gives clown pap BS right of way to fine us or put us in jail. after all we are jobless and no S$m to pay any fine. being old we are not in shape to spend the remaining short years in jail.

    BUT as long as we can vote, we vote anything any animal anyone as long as NOT clown pap. we believe strongly there is true justice under the sky. we hope we can be alive when New Government forms. if not, at least when we see pap evil lky at the other side we can spit at him and tell him we were never cowered by his abuse of power.

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  • Great Asia:

    Which western democracy is not failing?

    Which western country is not in decline?

    Which western country has found solutions to the problems the country is facing?

    Why so many Singaporeans have become angmoh worshipping monkeys?

    It all started by anglophile Lee Kuan Yew, he thought English is the solution for Singapore. Learning English as a language for global communication is good, buy using the language to perform culture genocide on the population is bad.

    Majority of the Singaporeans have become Bananas, especially the younger generations – the collateral damage of English education.

    Ha ha ha!

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  • Great Asia:

    亦步亦趋 – What the angmohs do, shallow monkeys will follow.

    Ha ha ha!

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