VIDEO: SG Human Rights Forum On 18 Nov Saturday, Nov 24 2007 

Related post: It was a red day at Quality Hotel

Singapore Police Playing The Dangerous Game Of Politics Friday, Nov 23 2007 

Police playing the dangerous game of politics, Singapore Democrats, 22 Nov 2007

The police released a statement saying that “in contrast to [Chee Soon Juan’s] acts of civil disobedience, Singaporeans and Myanmar nationals in Singapore have organised themselves to express their sentiments and concern for the Myanmar situation in a lawful manner”.

It was a stupendous spin.

In August this year a group of Burmese nationals marched down the length of Orchard Road. The protesters were warned not once but twice. The group defied the warnings and continued their peaceful march.

A month later, our Burmese friends congregated outside the Burmese embassy for a vigil. Again despite repeated warnings from the police, the protesters stayed put and even returned on subsequent evenings.

Two nights ago, a group of 40 to 50 Burmese again congregated at Orchard Road in a protest. This is despite countless warnings from the police.

Defying unjust laws that suppress human rights is civil disobedience.

The fact that the police has chosen not to take punitive action against these protesters does not make it any different from the non-violent action that the SDP and its supporters have been doing.

Which brings us to the next point. The police are selective in who it chooses to prosecute. To charge in court Burmese nationals standing in solidarity with their counterparts at home who are being beaten and killed, is political stupidity at its gravest. The PAP Government knows this.

So rather than arrest the Burmese protesters, the police work furiously behind-the-scenes to intimidate these people.

Our men-in-blue regularly visit Peninsula Plaza where Burmese nationals hangout, bear down on university officials and monks in temples, and conduct investigations on individual Burmese all in an effort to stop them from organising activities.

Being in a foreign land, these people have little choice but to comply. It doesn’t mean that they agree with the law that prohibits public protest – the same law, by the way, that exists in their homeland.

The Singapore Democrats and our supporters, on the other hand, are citizens of Singapore. The rights of our people have been robbed by the Government and we demand their return.

The Burmese, being foreigners, may back down. We do not.

For police to make the statement that they did further demonstrates their indulgence in partisan politics when they, as civil servants, ought to be strictly neutral.

This continued use of the police by the PAP to suppress dissent, and thus perpetuate its own power, is a dangerous game. Unlike in the past, the actions of our police force is widely and quickly disseminated through the Internet. {Pseudonymity: Videos – Riot police vs 4 silent protesters; Petition-signing at Burmese embassy in Singapore; Police video-taping protesters at Burma embassy; SDP members arrested outside the Istana; Singapore police abduction Part 1 and Part 2}

When the public sees it as being used to protect the PAP leaders, confidence in the police to enforce law and order impartially and without fear or favour will be eroded.

When state institutions are seen to no longer serve the interests of the public but rather the ruling clique, problems come very quickly. If it is trouble that the PAP is looking for, it will find it sooner rather than later.

The Government is caught in a delicate position. Crackdown on dissent and be condemned by the ever-growing democratic world. On the other hand it knows that if it allows Singaporeans to protest in public, then its days as an authoritarian regime are clearly numbered.

Singaporeans can see through this charade that the PAP and its police force are playing, and they want it stopped.

Chee Siok Chin Seeks Clarifications From Minister For Home Affairs Thursday, Nov 22 2007 

Chee Siok Chin writes to Wong Kan Seng, Singapore Democrats, 21 Nov 2007

21 November 2007

Mr. Wong Kan Seng
Minister for Home Affairs
New Phoenix Park, 28 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore 329560
wong_kan_seng@mha.gov.sg

Dear Sir,

I would like to refer you to the incident that occurred on 20 November 2007 along Orange Grove Road when Mr John Tan and I were illegally detained by the police.

The intent of this letter is not to inform you of the incident as I am certain you have been quite thoroughly apprised. Instead I would like to seek several clarifications from you as the Minister for Home Affairs.

Although Mr Tan and I were told that we were in a Protected Area, at no time did the police say that we were trespassing or forbidden to be in the vicinity. None of the police officers were able to cite any law that prohibited us from going to the Shangri-la Hotel.

What right did the police have to stop Mr Tan and I from going towards the Shangri-la Hotel after having been told that we were going there for a meal?

When asked if we had committed any offence and if we were being arrested, we were categorically told “no” to both questions. That being the case, what right did the police have in man-handling and forcing us into a vehicle?

If the vehicle belonged to the Singapore Police Force, why was it unmarked?

Was it legal for the police to take us to a place against our will when we had not committed any offence?

What right did the police have in not only harassing but manhandling Mr Tan and me?

What right did the police have in forcefully taking us away to a place when we were not under arrest?

In addition to this, Mr Tan was prevented from leaving the police vehicle when we were brought to Orchard Hotel? The police had restrained him and he had to physically struggle with the officers to get out of the van. Is this not a form of physical abuse?

The actions of the police in the mentioned incident is a grave violation of our constitutional rights, individual liberties and personal security.

How can it be said that the Singapore is built on the rule of law when those of us living in this country can be subjected to such arbitrary, illegitimate and physical actions by the police?

I look forward to your clarifications.

Sincerely,

Chee Siok Chin

VIDEO: Free Burma Activists Take To Streets In Singapore Thursday, Nov 22 2007 

Related post: VIDEO of police state at work during ASEAN summit AND Activists test Singapore with ASEAN protests AND It was a red day at Quality Hotel

VIDEO: Police State At Work During ASEAN Summit Wednesday, Nov 21 2007 

SDP leaders released after being forced into police van

Part 1

Part 2

Related posts:

Activists test Singapore with ASEAN protests

Protest Singapore style: 3 marchers, 19 media, 1000 police

Students defy Myanmar protest ban at ASEAN summit

Police state goes into high gear during ASEAN summit

Is it just me or has the ASEAN Charter disappeared?? Wednesday, Nov 21 2007 

Just yesterday the ASEAN charter was available on the summit’s website. Today, its not there anymore.

The ASEAN Charter section at the summit’s website doesn’t have it either.

Over at the ASEAN secretariat’s website, there’s a media release about the charter but not the actual charter itself.

Well, there’s always the final draft which was leaked weeks before it was officially signed, released…and removed.

ASEAN Human Rights Body Told To Protect Members From Foreign Interference Wednesday, Nov 21 2007 

AP Exclusive: ASEAN human rights body told to protect members from foreign interference

By Jim Gomez, Associated Press Writer, 21 Nov 2007

SINGAPORE – A human rights body to be set up by Southeast Asian nations should not intervene in domestic human rights problems, but instead protect countries from foreign meddling, according to confidential recommendations by the region’s diplomats.

The recommendations were made in a report seen by The Associated Press on Wednesday. It was commissioned by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose leaders adopted Tuesday a landmark charter , which among other things calls for setting up a human rights agency.

The report’s mandate was to list out the agency’s powers and duties.

Its recommendations confirm that the human rights agency would be a toothless body with no power to rein in blatant violators such as Myanmar.

The report’s contents reveal the extent of ASEAN’s reluctance to hold any of its members accountable – or to shame them – for outright human rights violations such as the Myanmar junta’s recent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in September that killed at least 15 people.

The international community has condemned the junta for its refusal to restore democracy and release Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years. ASEAN has also been criticized for not doing enough to pressure Myanmar’s military leaders.

The human rights body, to be comprised of representatives from ASEAN countries, should draft a “long-term roadmap” for the promotion of human rights, according to the report prepared by a task force, led by Singapore.

Such a body should also have “respect for national independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all ASEAN member states,” it said.

The task force recommended that the human rights body should uphold ASEAN’s bedrock policy forbidding member countries from interfering in one another’s domestic affairs – an edict Myanmar has often invoked to parry criticisms.

The report also says the rights body should oppose attempts by foreign countries to interfere in any Southeast Asian country’s human rights problems.

The agency should “be faithful to ASEAN and its common interests and oppose external influence attempting to interfere in the human rights issues of any ASEAN member state,” the task force said.

The body should conduct consultations and a public campaign on rights promotion and consider drafting an ASEAN declaration on human rights, it said.

The establishment of a human rights body had been the most contentious issue in the drafting of the ASEAN Charter because of strong opposition from Myanmar.

A Myanmar diplomat, Thaung Tun, said that his country wants the human rights body to become a “consultative mechanism” and that it should not “shame and blame” any ASEAN nation.

ASEAN’s members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

SDP Leaders Released After Being Forced Into Police Van Wednesday, Nov 21 2007 

Chee Siok Chin and John Tan released, SDP, 20 Nov 2007

Ms Chee Siok Chin and Mr John Tan were released after police held them without providing a reason when the two appeared outside the Shangri-la Hotel this afternoon.

They arrived at about 5.00 pm at Orchard Towers when they were told that a group of Burmese were gathering there to stage a protest march. Ms Chee and Mr Tan were there to lend support to the protesters.

By 5.45pm, both SDP leaders decided to take a walk towards Shangrila Hotel as there were no protesters in sight.

As they approached Orchard Hotel, plainclothes police were seen scurrying to set up their video cameras and getting on their cell phones. As the two turned into Orange Grove Road, a group of police officers approached them and warned the duo that they were in a protected area and that they should turn back.

There were at least three other members of the public who walked past them towards the Shangri-la Hotel and they were not stopped or given any warning by the police.

Mr Tan and Ms Chee thanked the police for the warnings and walked on. About 100 m from the hotel, female police officers surrounded Ms Chee and prevented her from walking on.

At this point a senior police officer was summoned to the scene. He asked Ms Chee what her intention was walking towards the hotel. Ms Chee told the police that she was intending to have a meal there. Despite this, the police prevented the both of them from proceeding.

An unmarked police van then pulled up and Ms Chee was forced into the van. Mr John Tan was subsequently dragged into the same van. When asked if they had committed any offence, the woman officer by the name of Thean Siew Khin said no. When asked if they were under arrest, another officer Ng Chee Wei also said no.

SDP20nov 1

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SDP20nov 4

So why were they being forced into this unmarked police van? None of the five police officers in the van could answer them.

When asked where the two were being taken, they said “your headquarters”. Ms Chee told them that her car was parked at Orchard Hotel and asked to be let off. She realised that the police were taking them to the former SDP headquarters along Serangoon Road.

After spending some 40 minutes in the van, the police finally realised that the SDP had moved out of the office in Serangoon Road. The driver was then given instructions to send Ms Chee and Mr Tan back to Orchard Hotel.

What right did the police have in stopping Ms Chee and Mr Tan from heading to the Shangri-la Hotel when other people were allowed to?

What right did the police have in man-handling the both and forcing them into a vehicle which was not even a police van (PA 2448J)?

Was it legal for the police to take them to a place against their will when they had not committed any offence?

Was this not a form of illegal detention?

Citizens of Singapore are supposed to be protected by the police. Instead Ms Chee and Mr Tan were harassed, discriminated against, and held without any reason.

(Video will be posted soon)

Activists Test Singapore With ASEAN Protests Wednesday, Nov 21 2007 

protest sign

AFP, 20 Nov 2007

SINGAPORE – Activists in Singapore challenged the city-state’s tough laws on public demonstrations at a regional summit Tuesday, with three separate incidents including a gathering of 40 Myanmar protesters.

Two members of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party were bundled into police vans and taken away from the area where Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders were holding their annual talks.

But in the biggest incident so far, some 40 Myanmar citizens held a large banner reading: “Listen to Burma’s Desires, Don’t Follow Junta’s Order” as they gathered at Singapore’s main shopping area on the Orchard Road strip.

Burmese protest at orchard 1
Myanmar nationals in Singapore stage a standing protest along Orchard Road to protest against the Myanmar government during the 13th ASEAN summit on Tuesday Nov. 20, 2007 in Singapore. The police eventually came in and dispersed the crowd peacefully. (AP Photo/Stefen Chow)

Burmese protest at orchard 2
Protesters stage a demonstration near the venue of the 13th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore November 20, 2007. About 40 Myanmar residents in Singapore took part in a protest against ASEAN’s non interference policy towards the Myanmar junta government. REUTERS/Tim Chong (SINGAPORE)

Burmese protest at orchard 3
Protesters stage a demonstration near the venue of the 13th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore November 20, 2007. About 40 Myanmar residents in Singapore took part in a protest against ASEAN’s non-interference policy towards the Myanmar junta government. REUTERS/Tim Chong (SINGAPORE)

Burmese protest at orchard 4
Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration near the venue of the 13th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore November 20, 2007. About 40 Myanmar residents in Singapore took part in a protest against ASEAN’s non-interference policy towards the Myanmar junta government. REUTERS/Tim Chong (SINGAPORE)

Burmese protest at orchard - 5
A protester holds a sign during a demonstration near the venue of the 13th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore November 20, 2007. About 40 Myanmar residents in Singapore took part in a protest against ASEAN’s non-interference policy towards the Myanmar junta government. REUTERS/Tim Chong (SINGAPORE)

Burmese protest at orchard 6
Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration near the venue of the 13th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore November 20, 2007. About 40 Myanmar residents in Singapore took part in a protest against ASEAN’s non-interference policy towards the Myanmar junta government. REUTERS/Tim Chong (SINGAPORE)

Burmese protest at orchard 7
Myanmar nationals in Singapore stage a standing protest along Orchard Road to protest against the Myanmar government during the 13th ASEAN summit on Tuesday Nov. 20, 2007 in Singapore. The police eventually came in and dispersed the crowd peacefully. (AP Photo/Stefen Chow)

It was one of the largest public protests seen in recent memory in Singapore, which has tight rules against demonstrations.

But in a soft approach that has characterised police tactics so far, the protesters dispersed peacefully after some 20 police officers approached them following 15 minutes of their rally and asked if they had finished.

It was the latest in a series of protests against Myanmar’s military regime, which is under fire for its violent campaign to shut down mass anti-government demonstrations in its main city Yangon in September.

Earlier Tuesday, four Singapore activists were barred from delivering a greeting card bearing the image of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to the ASEAN summit.

Wearing T-shirts with the message, “We pursue peace, justice and democracy for Burma”, they proceeded down Orchard Road under the watchful eye of police.

When they reached the approach road to the heavily guarded hotel where the meeting is being held, they were stopped by police who refused to let them pass and arranged for an ASEAN official to collect the card.

Measuring about two feet (60 centimetres), it contained about 40 signatures and messages which organisers said were mostly from Myanmar people.

“What has been done in Burma should not be condoned,” said one of the protesters, Chia Tilik.

On Monday, another group of nine foreign students from Singapore universities tested the city-state’s laws, which ban protests of five or more people without a permit, by marching in small groups along Orchard Road.

Carrying candles and wearing the same red T-shirts as Tuesday’s group, they later dispersed without incident.

Sign2

Activists Attack ASEAN On Lack Of Myanmar Pressure Tuesday, Nov 20 2007 

Reuters photo
Demonstrators stage a skit during a protest outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur November 20, 2007, urging the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to suspend Myanmar’s membership. The skit mocked Myanmar’s crackdown on monks and protesters. Southeast Asian nations were set to sign a charter on Tuesday that aims for free trade and human rights, but controversy over member Myanmar has marred the landmark deal. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim

by reuters
Pro-Myanmar activists protest in front of the Stock Exchange of Thailand in Bangkok, November 20, 2007. Protesters demanded Thai companies to halt new investment in the military-ruled neighbour. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Reuters 3
Pro-Myanmar activists protest in front of the Stock Exchange of Thailand in Bangkok, November 20, 2007. Protesters demanded Thai companies to halt new investment in the military-ruled neighbour. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Reuters 4
Pro-Myanmar activists protest in front of the Stock Exchange of Thailand in Bangkok, November 20, 2007. Protesters demanded Thai companies to halt new investment in the military-ruled neighbour. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A Myanmar dissident slammed ASEAN’s failure to pressure the junta over its crackdown on pro-democracy protests, as the 10-member group unveiled a charter on Tuesday aimed at enshrining human rights and democracy.

“It’s a historical moment for them to sign the charter, which is supposed to be the charter for the protection and promotion of human rights, and now they let the (Myanmar) regime take over their agenda,” said Thailand-based Khin Ohmar.

“Now they’re taking sides with the regime it seems,” said Khin Ohmar, a former student leader of Myanmar’s 1988 uprising, in which up to 3,000 people died.

“I think it’s a bad step and backtracking,” she added.

The charter aims to integrate the economies of ASEAN’s 10 member-nations and to “strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

“Burma has been a major shame for ASEAN,” Khin Omar said. “The social, economic and security aspects that it’s looking to resolve and promote in the region, will not happen if they don’t resolve Burma’s situation,” she said, speaking at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club.

But Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Nyan Win told his Japanese counterpart on Tuesday in Singapore that Western sanctions had hurt ordinary citizens the most and the way toward democratization was through economic development.

“The West has imposed economic sanctions, which directly harm the lives of ordinary citizens,” a Japanese official quoted U Nyan Win as telling Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura.

“I am not aware of a case in which sanctions resulted in the progress of democratization. Rather, economic development leads to democratization.”

Nyan Win also criticized the West for only listening to the opposition.

“Not everything that the opposition, which stands up to the government, says is correct. Only when one realizes that there are mistakes among the opposition, can we come closer to each other.”

Small demonstrations around the region were staged to protest what critics say is ASEAN’s soft approach to the junta’s iron-fisted rule.

In Singapore, four Singaporeans defied a ban on both Myanmar protests and a general law on group protests with a march towards the ASEAN summit venue, while in Bangkok about 20 activists protested in front of the stock exchange.

In Kuala Lumpur, some 200 people from Myanmar living in Malaysia staged a skit mocking Myanmar’s crackdown on the recent monk-led protests in the country.

ASEAN diplomats say the group is grappling with a dilemma. On the one hand, Myanmar’s membership is complicating its efforts to create a powerful and influential bloc in a globalize world. But shoving the junta beyond the pale would drive Myanmar further into China’s embrace and to ASEAN’s disadvantage.

ASEAN has instead opted for “engagement” with Myanmar, calling on the junta to work with the United Nations towards democracy and to release political detainees.

But Khin Omar said ASEAN was setting itself up for more pressure. “If they don’t get some kind of resolution toward Burma during this summit, I think the whole international community and governments will put more pressure on ASEAN.

“We don’t want another killing. This regime will not hesitate to do that. The Burmese people have paid their price, now it’s really up to the international community to really do their work,” she added.

(Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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