Saturday, December 20, 2008

Report, photos & videos of Roo Boys' release from Queenstown Remand Prison

More photos here

The latest Hooray
Singapore Democrats, 19 Dec 2008

A candlelight vigil was held on the night of 17 Dec 08, the last night of Mr Isrizal's and Mr Shafi'ie's prison sentence.

More than 30 friends, family, activists and supporters came to the vigil which stretched through the night as they awaited the release of the two men. Mr John Tan started serving his sentence on 16 Dec and will be released on 30 Dec 08.

Candles were lit and lined the kerb facing the main gates of the Queenstown Remand Prison. By midnight, there were just five who were able to stay through the night. But they were not alone as messages of support and pledges of solidarity had been penned on a large placard. SMSes of the same spirit were received throughout the night.

A vigil is a kind of purposeful sleeplessness – the Latin root, vigilia, denotes "watch, watchfulness, wakefulness". Traditionally used in an ecclesiastical sense to describe a devotional exercise performed on the eve of a festival or holy day, in this instance it was a night to devote attention to our three prisoners of conscience.

Famously dubbed as the "kangaroo t-shirt trio", the contempt of court charges were brought against them by the Attorney-General who insisted that he took action in his capacity as the "Guardian of the Public Interest".

As a public interest issue, the question remains if this was the best course of action to take against three citizens for wearing t-shirts which bore an image with no words.

The night was cool and the air still. Sound carried from the guardhouse behind the gates. At one point, late into the night, the guard could be heard reporting on the vigil: "One was 'doing arts-&-craft', the others chatting whilst another was 'looking at the stars', etc." The arts-&-craft activity was in reference to the making of a "Welcome Back" sign.

A song* (see below) was written and rehearsed, sung tongue-in-cheek to the tune of Amazing Grace, to greet the two.

Morning came and supporters and well-wishers arrived to greet the two as the time of release neared.

At around 10 am, Mr Shafi'ie emerged. He strode to the gates, calm, composed and dignified. He was garlanded and warmly hugged. He was also presented with a booklet, a compilation of articles about his valour and strength in the face of such difficulty, especially at such a young age. The song was performed with gusto and to much laughter.

Mr Isrizal appeared soon after (at about 10.30 am). Upon exiting the prison, he punched the air shouting "Merdeka!" The same welcome was extended and he was also garlanded, hugged and "serenaded".

*Song lyrics

Oh Shafi'ie and Isrizal,
For seven days, you were jailed
Because of _ _ _ and _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (**)
And a single kangaroo

And now you're back with us today
We hope you enjoyed your stay
But John's still inside this afternoon
And the rest will join in, soon

Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray Hooray

Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray
Hip Hop Hooray today

**Play hangman. Fill in the blanks at your own peril.

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