NEW YORK (FDI) -- On April 27 in Singapore, two women were found "guilty" on seven counts, including "assembly without a permit" and "possession and distribution of illegal VCDs." Their crime? Handing out materials to passers-by in a public park that document the human rights atrocities inflicted upon those who practice Falun Gong in China.
These same materials are handed out to the public on a daily basis in nearly every major city across North America, Europe, and Australia as well as parts of the Middle East, South America, and Africa.
Up until two days ago, only in Communist China would people be punished by authorities for distributing these materials. How is it that Singapore's justice system would punish people for speaking the truth?
It is a fact well-known throughout the world that the Chinese Communist Party has been waging a campaign of suppression against Falun Gong inside China for the past 6 years -- a campaign that is vast in scope and horrifying in its implementation. Human rights workers have documented over 42,000 cases of severe abuse or torture in prison camps and detention centers of Falun Gong practitioners. Thousands are dead. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, languish in labor camps and detention centers throughout China - many sent there merely for letting their fellow citizens know about the abuses unleashed on Falun Gong.
Brainwashing centers have been established all across China to use torture - psychological and physical - to destroy people's beliefs and implant the CCP line into their hearts and souls... a process often leaving people psychologically devastated, if not dead. Both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, as with others, have reported on these tactics and their pervasiveness. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented much of this.
It is another well-known fact that China's campaign to eradicate Falun Gong does has not stopped at China's borders. Government officials from the city and community levels on up to the federal and top levels have reported being approached by Chinese officials on numerous occasions, asking for cooperation against Falun Gong and suppressing news about the deaths and torture in China (link). Considerable financial and political pressure is brought to bear by the Chinese consulate officials, revealing a systematic, worldwide campaign that reaches into cities and industries all over the world.
It is, therefore, appalling and disturbing that in Singapore - a society that is supposedly governed by rule of law - two Falun Gong practitioners would be found "guilty" and fined simply for giving away CDs and information about China's persecution of Falun Gong for free to the public. Defense counsel for the two accused women has stressed that they were merely exercising their Constitutional rights, and such rights expressed peacefully and orderly should not be curtailed by any other law of the land.
The two women have, understandably, refused to pay the fines imposed on them under these circumstances, and so are serving jail sentences. We are told at least one of them is now on hunger strike to protest this injustice.
This incident makes Singapore the first country outside China to charge peaceful Falun Gong practitioners and send them to jail under such circumstances. It has also effectively made the international community question the legal and justice systems of Singapore, where it is clear justice was not served. Lastly, it raises questions whether or not such an act aims at complying with pressure from Beijing or serves as a political gesture to woo Chinese authorities.
We call upon the government of Singapore to reverse this decision and handle this case justly in accordance with the law. No government should sacrifice freedoms and liberty for the mere purpose of currying favor with the Communist regime in Beijing. Any short-term benefits such actions would reap are vastly overshadowed by the damage done to Singapore's rule of law, its reputation in the international community and the well-being of its people.
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