NEW YORK - A Singapore judge threw the book at two women for handing out fliers and VCD's exposing Communist China's persecution of Falun Gong.
Ms. Ng Chye Huay and Ms. Cheng Lu Jin were arrested in May 2004 on multiple charges, including 'assembly without a permit' and 'possession and distribution of VCD's without a certificate.
After nearly a year of procedures, the court delivered its verdict last Wednesday. The women were ordered to pay fines of 20,000 and 24,000 Singapore Dollars (US $12,216 and $14,660), respectively. Insisting on their innocence, both refused to pay and have launched an appeal. They are currently in jail, and both are hunger striking to object to the decision.
The Falun Gong peaceful meditation practice is legal in Singapore and everywhere else in the world, save for the Peoples Republic of China where it was banned in 1999. Singapore authorities arrested Ng and Cheng for distributing information revealing evidence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) brutality, the same materials that are regularly handed out in dozens of other countries without incident.
Singapore is notorious for its strict social control and for handing down harsh punishments for seemingly minor offences, such as chewing gum or spitting. Nonetheless, its constitution contains guarantees of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, points out Dr. Terri Marsh, American human rights lawyer.
Ng and Chengs defense council asserts that the accused were simply exercising these rights, as guaranteed in the Singapore constitution, and so should not be restricted, especially when they are expressed openly and peacefully.
Falun Gong supporters have gathered at Singaporean embassies and consulates around the world to appeal whats widely seen as an unjust decision. Elaise Poh, a Singapore resident visiting New York, was shocked at the verdict and immediately went to the consulate in Manhattan to voice her opinion. The laws dont exist to punish people for doing something good. The courts have better things to do than treat [Falun Gong] practitioners as criminals, said Poh. Officials at the consulate were unavailable for comment.
Marsh, also lead counsel in several U.S. lawsuits naming top CCP officials for genocidal crimes, made a written statement to Singapore authorities. The office of the prosecutor has compromised its responsibility by treating these womens attempt to expose the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong in China as a criminal act, thereby failing to cognize that the crimes that require redress are those perpetrated by the CCP in China, she asserts. Marsh believes the court ruling may have been influenced by Chinese authorities in order to obscure the issue of who the real criminals are, namely, the CCP.