Amnesty International has joined the human rights activist groups who have weighed in on the recent police action against local socio-political website The Online Citizen and its editor, Terry Xu.
Earlier, TOC revealed on Facebook that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is investigating the editor of the website over an alleged offence of criminal defamation. The website added that all electronic equipment used for the purpose of the website have been seized by the SPF:
“The equipment, which include desktop, mobile devices and laptops, was seized at the residence of Terry Xu in the presence of five police officers this morning. No confirmed date of return has been given as investigation will take some time to conclude.”
The only editor of the website, Terry Xu, was summoned to the Cantonment Police Station at 3pm yesterday. The website announced that it will be on ‘hiatus for the time being’.
Calling the treatment of Xu “Government Harassment,” Amnesty International has hit out at the “crackdown on freedom of expression”.
In a statement on its website, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Regional Director Nicholas Bequelin said: “The targeting of Terry Xu and Willy Sum is a callous attempt by the authorities to silence and punish peaceful dissent. They are being persecuted solely for daring to publish content critical of the Singapore government.
“This is the latest example of the authorities coming down hard on independent media outlets who refuse to toe the line by publishing social and political views.
“The crackdown on freedom of expression in Singapore must end now, starting with these malicious charges against Terry Xu being dropped.”
Amnesty added that “The government’s response to the article, which alleged “corruption at the highest echelons” in Singapore, is the latest in a series of attacks on independent media reporting.” Read its statement in full HERE.
Human Rights Watch also blasted police action against TOC. In a media statement yesterday, the organisation’s Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson called the police raid on Xu a clear example of “Singapore’s rights abusing constriction of freedom of expression,” and characterised the confiscation of TOC’s computers and equipment as “over the top harassment that will unfairly prevent the TOC from publishing ts independent stories that critically scrutinize the government.”
Robertson further said that the letter that triggered the authorities’ response “show the unbecoming paranoia of the Singapore authorities about published opinions critical of them.”
Read Human Rights Watch’s statement here: