Local groups call for greater freedom of expression in light of charges against Jolovan Wham

We are a group of citizens who are deeply troubled by the mounting charges that social worker and human rights advocate Jolovan Wham faces in Singapore courts.

In 2017, six local NGOs issued statements immediately after charges of illegal assembly, vandalism and refusing to sign police statements were brought against Jolovan. These statements, along with a petition signed by 6,533 people, registered grave concerns about his prosecution, and a call to protect our freedom of expression.

Since then, many regional and international groups have called for the charges against Jolovan to be dropped, condemning them as disproportionate and unjust. Notably, EU parliamentarians, fifty-two Malaysian civil society organisations, the Office of the United National High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, International Commission of Jurists, ARTICLE 19, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Forum Asia have all demanded that the government cease proceedings against Jolovan.

The strength and unity in these voices point to how profoundly the charges against Jolovan violate our shared aspirations for a society where we have the right to assemble, associate, protest peacefully, speak and write freely, and debate difficult issues openly, including with overseas allies or Singapore residents who may be non-citizens. If our expression is only free in Hong Lim Park, it is not free.

Regardless of the many calls to end legal sanctions against Jolovan, the charges against him have mounted, and he is currently being investigated once again by the police for taking a photo holding a piece of paper, alone, outside the State Courts, calling for charges of criminal defamation against Terry Xu and Daniel De Costa to be dropped.

The charges against Jolovan concern all of us who live in Singapore. With such severe restrictions on civil liberties, our ability to stand up to injustice and pursue the changes we seek is heavily compromised. We must have the freedom to speak our truths – however disagreeable or inconvenient to the state – and to engage fellow citizens in frank conversations and collective action around shared concerns.

We need to allow for “honest disagreements”, which NMP Walter Theseira recently pointed out is crucial for the health of our society. Laws and regulations that heavily restrict our freedom of expression in the name of public order, foreign interference or contempt of court need to be rigorously reviewed.

The range of urgent human rights and social justice issues that Jolovan has lent his time, energy and voice to is an important demonstration of the ways in which all of our freedoms are connected. Prosecuting Jolovan has grave implications for all Singaporeans. It is an affront to all our freedoms, and in standing up for him, we are standing up for all Singaporeans to live free of fear.

We call upon the state to seriously reconsider the laws under which Jolovan is being prosecuted, and ensure that our constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, speech and association are accorded the protection they deserve.

Signatories:

2. ArtsEquator https://artsequator.com/
3. Beyond the Hijab https://beyondhijab.sg/
4. CARE: Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (Singapore chapter) https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/
5. Community Action Network (CAN) https://singaporecan.wordpress.com/
9. HOME (Humanitarian Organization For Migration Economics) https://www.home.org.sg/
13. Pink Dot SG https://pinkdot.sg/
16. Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign https://singaporeantideathpenaltycampaign.wordpress.com/
17. Singapore Unbound https://singaporeunbound.org/
18. TheatreWorks Singapore https://www.facebook.com/tHEATREwORKS.Sg/
20. The Online Citizen https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/
21. The Theatre Practice http://www.practice.org.sg/en/
22. Think Centre http://www.thinkcentre.org/
24. Wake Up Singapore https://www.facebook.com/wakeupSG/
25. We Believe in Second Chances https://www.facebook.com/WeBelieveInSecondChances/

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7 Responses to “Local groups call for greater freedom of expression in light of charges against Jolovan Wham”

  • LIONS:

    let the scholars n top generals DEBUNK any ordinary sg who diiffers in his/her OPINIONS from the scholars themselves and let the PUBLIC decide who has got the BETTER OR MORE REASONABLE CASE?

    WHY SCHOLARS HAVE GOT THE CHEEKS TO CLAIM MERITOCRACY BUT HAVE GOT NO BALLS TO CHALLENGE ON LEVEL PLAYING FIELDS ANY REMARKS/OPINIONS they deem as FAKE???

    WHAT IS FAKE TO ONE GROUP MAY BE TRUTH TO ANOTHER OR THE OTHERS???

    Take for example,TAXES/LEVIES N SURCHARGES ON UTILITIES ,CARS COE and CPF as examples.

    to the SCHOLARS/GAHMEN,they think *KEEPING OUR CPF’ is good for us BUT TO MOST sgs,this is NOT SO!

    SO,YOU SEE,WHAT IS TRUE TO PAP SCHOLARS/MINISTERS IS UNTRUE TO ordinary sgs who need their CPF to see them through their daily needs in our very HIGH COL environment!

    so,WHO AND WHAT IS FAKE AND WHO AND WHAT IS REAL?

    LETS HAVE GENTLEMANLY OPEN DEBATES.
    if you think you are the BEST N BRIGHTEST,PROVE IT,DONT JUST CLAIM IT,YA?

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  • get Nuseir Yassin to read:

    Can someone get Nuseir Yassin to read this post?

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  • oxygen:

    HOW CAN THERE BE “FAKE” NEWS LEGISLATION in contemplation when law and its interpretation is NOT even clever of dialectic.

    Look at this fake laws – two person walking in the same direction of imagined same thought is convicted of “illegal assembly” law BUT HORNY OLD UNCLES meeting and gathering (primae facie assembly) in Paya Lebar MRT station, marching to Geylang to “buy chickens” is NOT arrested. Every night plenty of foreign chicken assembled in Geylang, selling “moral” services are also unmolested by the same “illegal assembly law” IN CONTRAST.

    Even more ridiculous is this puzzle – the head is on the shoulders of the accused, not the sitting judge (whoever), how did the judge know what is in the mind of the convicted accused of alleged “same intention/purpose” as the proven basis of “fact” (instead of fiction) to then convicted the accused?

    NO SANE MIND COMPREHEND THIS LAW, I would think.

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  • RDB:

    Let the GaGament embarrass themselves internationally by wanting and needing to show Singaporeans and Foreigners here that they are in fact the most stupid cocky govt in the whole world. They deserve it! As stupidity has not cure.

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  • RDB:

    Correction:
    no cure and not not cure.

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  • Bondage:

    Hey guys

    Do you know the way out of this malaise, this sickness, this prison-like feeling of bondage…………how? Simple

    VTO………Vote Them Out ……….your opportunity is on the horizon………June 2020.

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  • Great Asia:

    Shallow Asian monkeys!

    All the proxies of angmohs!

    Ha ha ha!

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