In remembrance of a Singapore Patriot – Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (1926 – 2008)

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Open letter to the family of J B Jeyaretnam from Amnesty International

Posted by jbjmemorial on October 5, 2008

International Secretariat
Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street,
London WC1X ODW, United Kingdom


Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Philip Jeyaretnam


3 October 2008


Dear Kenneth and Philip,

An Open Letter to the family of J B Jeyaretnam

Amnesty International wishes to express its sympathy and condolences at the death of your father, J B Jeyaretnam, whom the organizations regarded as an unflinching campaigner for the rule of law and for the whole spectrum of human rights – regardless of the personal costs he paid. It was often the organization’s privilege to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him in the struggle for a Singapore that would move to promote and protect fundamental rights.

As you know, Amnesty International monitored and was active on developments following his election to Parliament in 1981, including the ruinous civil defamation suits launched against him by the ruling party’s leadership, his expulsion from Parliament, imprisonment and bankruptcy. But he refused to be deterred by legal moves designed to intimidate Singaporeans and silence those holding dissenting views. To the end, he was fighting for his right to re-enter Parliament as a representative of his recently formed Reform Party. Amnesty International shared with him the recognition that the campaign for human rights must continue – even against obstacles such as those he faced – and that restrictions on freedom of expression guaranteed under international standards cannot be justified.

Amnesty International respected J B Jeyaretnam in his lifetime as a human rights defender. We believe his memory is best honoured by continuing to campaign against repression and for fundamental human rights for the citizens of the country he loved.


Yours sincerely,


Sam Zarifi
Director, Asia Pacific Program


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