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Amnesty Accuses Singapore of Ill Treatment of Prisoners

November 3, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ Amnesty International on Wednesday called on Singapore to release six prisoners accused of plotting to overthrow the government, charging that they and other detainees were treated cruelly to try to extract confessions.

The human rights organization said the prisoners were among 22 people accused of involvement in a Marxist plot and arrested in May and June under Singapore’s Internal Security Act. It permits detention for up to two years without trial.

Sixteen members of the group have released, Amnesty said, but restrictions have been placed on 15 of them.

In a 28-page report, the human rights group said a fact-finding mission to Singapore in June ″had confirmed that the (22) detainees were prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for their non-violent opposition to the government.″

Amnesty also urged the release of Chia Thye Poh, a former member of Parliament, held without charges for 21 years.

The 22 people arrested in May and June - aged between 22 and 40 - had engaged in legitimate, non-violent activities in church, community, workers’ and students’ groups, and in the opposition Workers’ Party, the report said.

The Singapore government has acknowledged it has produced no independent evidence of subversion, the report added.

Amnesty said some of the 22 were held in prolonged solitary confinement, threatened with indefinite detention and interrogated for 50 hours at a time. Amnesty also said its delegates in Singapore received reports that some detainees were questioned with their clothing soaked in cold water.

Most detainees were reduced to a state where they were apparently ″willing to confess to any charges levied against them, true or false, or sign any statement expected of them,″ Amnesty said.

The report also criticized the Singapore government for ″trial by television″ - putting the detainees on TV where they gave what Amnesty called heavily edited confessions extracted with ″cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment.″

Amnesty said its visiting delegation alsofound ″a noticeable apprehension to speak freely for fear of government reprisals.″

The organization accused the Singapore security forces of tapping telephones, censoring mail, and intimidating and spying on detainees’ families and lawyers. It said the government used the Internal Security Act ″to arrest and imprison people for the non-violent exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.″

The report identified the six people still being held on accusations of plotting to overthrow the government as Vincent Cheng, William Yap, Chia Boon Thye, Tay Hong Seng, Kenneth Tsang, and Lim Li Kok.

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