I am grateful to our Russian correspondent Grigory Pasko, who has done his best to spread the world among the Russian human rights community about the plight of my client Dr. Chee Soon Juan, one of Singapore’s greatest defenders of democracy. The response in Russia has been good, 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.“
DECLARATIONof Russian defenders of human rights
We, Russian defenders of human rights, assess with deep indignation thefact of the latest arrest of the leader of the Singapore DemocraticParty (SDP), Chee Soon Juan.
This time, the arrest took place inOctober of this year merely because Chee Soon Juan was expressingprotest against the complete prohibition on public demonstrations andother political restrictions in the city-state, intended to conduct arally, despite the threats of the police.Leader of the Singapore Democratic Party Chee Soon Juan is likewisebeing subjected to persecutions for criticism of the system of justice,expressed by him during the time of an open hearing, at which theleader of the Singaporean opposition was being accused of libel by theofficial powers of the country.
Earlier, he had been charged with libeland had been convicted after in the year 2006 he had published articleswith the denunciation of corruption in the Singaporean government.In February of this year by decision of the court doctor Chee wasdeclared bankrupt due to the inability to pay 500 000 Singaporeandollars (318 000 US dollars) for causing harm with «libellousstatements» to the address of former prime-ministers Lee Kuan Yew andGoh Chok Tong.
Human rights activists of many countries indicate thatthe actions of the government fully contradict the ideals expressed byex-premier Lee Kuan Yew in the year 2004 at the ceremony of celebrationof the 50th anniversary of the People’s Action Party: : “In our countrynot a single organization is subjected to oppression, prohibition orsuppression. Our political culture values other principles -inviolability, elitism and the observance of fairness”.
We, Russian defenders of human rights, join with the defenders of CheeSoon Juan and demand of the Singaporean government his prompt release.Together with this we note that persecution for political motives iswell known to us, Russians, because in our country such persecutionsalso take place. And in our country people are persecuted who areunwanted by the powers, innocent people are subjected to criminalpunishments.
In the period of the election campaign, current president of the RFDmitry Medvedev spoke on numerous occasions about what importantsignificance 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 motivatedcourt sentences are found in flagrant contradiction with the principleof supremacy of law.
It is precisely for this reason that we called on the president of theRF to pardon people who had become, in our opinion, victims ofpolitically 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-thinkingpeople in Singapore, who, like us, want to see their country as ademocratic state, free from persecutions in it of citizens for theirconvictions.We express our solidarity with leader of the Singapore Democratic PartyChee Soon Juan, because we are personally experiencing the pressure ofthe powers for criticism of their actions, because we are fighting forfree and honest elections, because we demand the release of politicalprisoners in Russia.
We are fighting for human rights, for freedom for political prisoners,against torture, tyranny and wars. We are acting as our consciencetells 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