Recently, six Falun Gong practitioners were charged by the Singapore authorities with assembling without a permit and underwent a trial inaccessible to the public, media and family members. The secret trial has caused extensive concern. Human rights lawyer Mr. Ravi’s certificate to practise law was revoked by the Singapore government due to his defence of Falun Gong practitioners. Mr. Ravi was interviewed during his visit to Paris to attend the third World Congress against the Death Penalty held from February the 1st to February the 3rd. In his interview, Mr. Ravi stated that his involvement in the trial allowed him to find that the Singapore government tried to appease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by all means. He thinks that the Singapore government is one of the best disguised dictatorships in the world. He believed that “Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance” could help Singapore advance toward democracy.
|Human rights lawyer Mr. Ravi|
It was recently reported that several Falun Gong practitioners lodged an appeal with the Singapore Court, but the appeal was refused and they were thus sent to prison. Regarding this matter, Mr. Ravi stated, “As far as this matter was concerned, the judge didn’t give them many choice. They could choose to either pay the penalty or serve their sentences in prison. The judge demanded that only when they make one of the two choices could their appeal be accepted. Because the two Falun Gong practitioners firmly stuck to their own principle [that they had not done anything wrong and should not be punished], they refused to pay the penalty and were thus imprisoned. This trial was unfortunate and unjust. But this is the law in Singapore and judges have the right to decide everything. Therefore, we should make use of this opportunity to expose such a barbaric law to the world.”
But how can this unjust trial be exposed to more people? Mr. Ravi said, “The most unfair bit is the fact that my certificate to practise law had been revoked by the Singapore government since last October, only because I was the lawyer defending these Falun Gong practitioners. This way, these Falun Gong practitioners lost a lawyer to defend them, while all the other lawyers in town are reluctant to be involved in the matter because of their fears. This is why no other lawyer was willing to defend them after my suspension. For this very reason, I feel miserable and sad for them. In fact, after my involvement in the case, I clearly found that with regard to this matter, the Singapore government had tried all possible means to appease the CCP. For this reason, a lawsuit may be filed with the court against the Singapore government for interfering with China’s advancing toward democracy.”
|Human rights lawyer from Singapore delivered a speech in the seminar|
As a human rights lawyer in Singapore, how could Mr. Ravi inform the world that Singapore is basically a dictatorship instead of a democratic state though it proclaims itself a democratic country. Mr. Ravi said, “Based on many judges of the International Dispute Resolution Association as well as many independent judges, reports by some judges, and reports by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York on the political situation in Singapore, this country is like a country ruled by a dictator. I think this is one of the best disguised dictatorships in the world. Unfortunately, disguised by its great success in the economy, questions in this aspect are ignored by the Western World. This is a great pity. I already had had talks with the EU on Monday. I hope that they can negotiate such topics with the Singapore government as the death penalty, just trials that Falun Gong practitioners deserve and the suspension of my certificate to practise law. It was just because I had a minor argument with the judge; then the minor fault was enormously magnified until my certificate was revoked.”
|Mr. Ravi at the closing ceremony of the World Congress against the Death Penalty|
Due to his defence of Falun Gong practitioners, Mr. Ravi’s certificate to practise law was revoked by the Singapore government. Similarly, his counterparts in China are being suppressed by the Chinese government. Regarding the suppression, Mr. Ravi responded, “Personally I feel no fear, but just a kind of uncomfortable feeling, because I have great passion for my legal career. But my certificate to practise law was revoked. In reality, I am not afraid. Were I afraid, I would not accept the case of Falun Gong. I had known that something like this would happen some day. But we still need to insist on our work. Of course, compared with the lawyers in China, they made greater sacrifices than us. In this aspect, they set an example to us lawyers.”
Could the EU exert pressure on China by boycotting the 2008 Olympic Games? Is there any possible way to bring a prompt end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China? Mr. Ravi replied, “I think this is what worldwide Falun Gong practitioners are able to do. Meanwhile, we could also consider questions on China’s death penalty. But I am not sure if we should have the EU involved in this event. It will make the situations more complex if the two events get mingled. The Olympic Games and stopping the persecution should be considered separately. For example, it is not for the EU to bring an end to the persecution. Rather it is for worldwide human rights groups to help solve the problem.”
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