Singapore: Court Frees Amos Yee, Teen Blogger Who Insulted the Dead Prime Minister

 Amos Yee walking with his father to the state courts in Singapore.

6 July – When 16-year-old Singaporean Amos Yee recorded an expletive-ridden video attacking the country’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, following his death in March, he goaded the government to “come at me, motherfucker” — and officials quickly obliged. The outspoken blogger was hauled into detention and eventually convicted in May on charges of insulting Christians in the video as well as of obscenity for posting a crude image depicting Lee in a compromising sexual position with Margaret Thatcher, the former UK prime minister.

Late last month, a judge overseeing the case ordered a two-week psychiatric evaluation for Yee in a mental institution ahead of sentencing to determine if he had a mental disorder. Yee faced at least 18 months in “reformative training” for juvenile offenders.

But in a surprising turnaround amid growing international pressure from human rights groups to free the teen, the court released him on Monday, sentencing him to time already served.

Yee spent a total of 50 days in detention since the afternoon of March 29, when he was apprehended shortly after an elaborate state funeral was held for Lee, who is widely regarded as independent Singapore’s founding father. In one of the video’s more colorful lines, Yee complains that “all day you see 24-hour news coverage of necrophiliacs sucking Lee Kuan Yew’s dick.”

The 8-minute long video, titled “Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead,” and the image of Lee and Thatcher have been shared on social media and viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

The video briefly compares Lee to various dictators before Yee likens him unfavorably to Jesus Christ: “They are both power hungry and malicious but deceive others into thinking that they are compassionate and kind.” It also vigorously criticized what Yee described as misconceptions about Singapore’s wealth, income distribution, and civil liberties.

Yee’s time in detention was sporadic — he was released, but returned to custody after breaching his bail conditions several times. Earlier in June, a doctor speculated that the teen might suffer from autism-spectrum disorder, but the court-ordered mental evaluation determined that Yee has no psychiatric problems.

The teen’s continued detention received international attention and was condemned by Human Rights Watch. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also urged Yee’s release, noting that it would be in line with Singapore’s commitment under the UN Convention on the Rights of Child. Prosecutors ultimately dropped their request for a lengthy period of reformative training after Yee put in writing that he would take down the video and image and never re-post them — though Yee has violated previous pledges to do so.

In sentencing Yee to four weeks’ detention on Monday, the court backdated his sentence to June 2, allowing him to walk free. The blogger is expected to appeal his convictions, his lawyer said.

Photos and video footage showed Yee appearing sullen as he was greeted by a crush of press as he left the court after his release. He was chaperoned by his father and mother, who wore a shirt with a picture of her son sitting in a yellow submarine. Below the design was the hashtag #FreeAmosYee.

In a similar incident, Malaysian anarchist blogger Ali Abdul Jalil was locked up late last year on sedition charges for insulting the monarchy:

Malaysia: FREEDOM FOR ALI ABDUL JALIL

 28 September 2014 – Ali Abdul jail is currently in jail, facing 6 charges of sedition for insulting the monarchy. Funny, I never knew that we, as tax paying citizens, whose money is being used to finance the monarchies, are not allowed to criticize them.

Ali, an activist with Anti-Facist Malaysia (Antifa) s the brother of Ahmad Abdul Jalil, whoantifa logo coincidentally was also charged for criticizing the Sultan of Johor in 2012. He was kept in uncomfortable conditions and in solitary confinement. Also, during his remand, he was question repeatedly for up to 8 to 9 hours a day, till the time of his release. If that wasn’t bad enough, his home was raided by the police.

And you wonder why Ali has nothing nice to say about the Johor Sultan.

I had the opportunity to meet Ali, at a Bantah GST meeting. That, fortunately and unfortunately was the first and last time I met him. About two weeks later, at the Bantah GST Roadshow, we found out that Ali was arrested under the Sedition Act 1948. It was at this Roadshow that I also found out that Ali believed, in order to get his point through, he felt he had to be arrested. Thus, when I heard about his brother, it was easy to see that he knew what he was talking about and he meant it.

For those who have never met Ali, he is exactly as you would see in the picture. The smiling prisoner of conscience isn’t just a moniker. It isn’t away of gaining publicity. A means of putting a friendly face to a, to an unjust political crackdown. That is Ali Abdul Jail. Friendly, polite and kind are the first impression one get when they meet him.

He has no business being in jail and definitely, should never be tortured because he had an opinion and was willing to bravely state it and stand by it. If anything, this type of personality must be promoted, especially amongst our so called leaders.

Ali flees Malaysia, seeks asylum in Sweden

25 October 25, 2014 – Activist Ali Abdul Jalil seeks political asylum in Sweden in a bid to escape sedition charges in Malaysia.

Ali Abdul JalilKUALA LUMPUR: After facing the full wrath of the law for criticising the Johor monarchy, student activist Ali Abdul Jalil has fled the country to seek political asylum in Sweden.

According to a report on Rakyat Times, Amnesty International Sweden took him under their wing and are advising Ali on the legal process to obtain political asylum. He will also be provided with legal representation.

Earlier while speaking to the Malay Mail Online, Ali’s sister Asiah refused to reveal his whereabouts except to confirm her brother had fled Malaysia to escape sedition charges and that he had informed the family of his safety upon touching down Tuesday.

Asiah also said Ali was likely to be granted political asylum after having been interviewed by a human rights group there.

He already has a temporary visa and a work permit that allows him to start work immediately.

Ali was detained in Malaysia on September 8, released on September 23 and promptly rearrested and charged at the Shah Alam Sessions Court under the Sedition Act 1948.

He was charged for allegedly mocking the Johor Sultanate and calling for the state’s monarchy to be abolished.

Amnesty International Malaysia has made an urgent plea to the Malaysian government to drop all charges against Ali while GHAH (Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan) have also denounced the torture that allegedly took place while Ali was under detention.

The authorities however have remained unmoved from their earlier decision to charge him and have refused to comment on the alleged torture.

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