Police officers arrived during the candlelight vigil on July 13 outside Changi Prison Complex. Photo from Kirsten Han's Facebook page, used with permission.
Singapore police have summoned 17 individuals for participating in a candlelight vigil held on July 13, 2017, accusing the group of activists and journalists of organizing an ‘illegal assembly.’
The group gathered outside Changi Prison in eastern Singapore to show support for the family of Malaysian migrant worker Prabagaran Srivijayan, who was executed on drug trafficking charges on July 14.
Prabagaran insisted on his innocence up until the end of his life, and several human rights groups urged the Singaporean government to spare Prabagaran and revisit the case. But his execution sentence was carried out, and Prabagaran became the fourth person executed by Singapore in 2017 on drug-related charges.
Although many of the 17 individuals who joined the vigil were anti-death penalty advocates, they mainly intended to show solidarity with Prabagaran's grieving family.
During the candlelight vigil, several police officers arrived and confiscated the candles but allowed the vigil to continue as long as candles were not lit.
Two months later, Singaporean police are now probing the individuals who joined the vigil for violating the law on public assembly. It is strictly prohibited in Singapore to hold a gathering without a permit under Section 16(2)(a) of the Public Order Act, Chapter 257A.
Writer Kirsten Han, a Global Voices contributor who attended the vigil and later received the police summons, described the experience on Facebook, and wondered why the vigil was deemed an illegal assembly:
The police also summoned Terry Xu, editor of The Online Citizen news website, who expressed surprise to learn the vigil was viewed by police an act of illegal assembly: