TO HIS EXCELLENCY S.R. NATHAN, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE.
On behalf of the Australian Coalition Against Death Penalty (ACADP) and in the spirit of respect for human life, I make a heartfelt plea for clemency, compassion and mercy, to spare and save the young life of Nguyen Tuong Van, currently under sentence of death at Changi Prison in Singapore. Nguyen Tuong Van, is a 23-year-old Australian man of Vietnamese origin. Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in December 2002, whilst in transit from Cambodia to Australia. He was later charged and convicted of drug-trafficking. In March 2004 he was sentenced to death for his crime.
ACADP does not condone Nguyen's crime. On his first overseas travel from Australia he made a foolish and a terrible mistake by smuggling illegal drugs in an attempt to gain money, to pay a debt for his twin brother.
Nguyen is not a violent or hardened criminal. He has not previously offended and he has shown remorse for his crime. Due to these reasons, his youth and his strong family support, his prospects for rehabilitation can be regarded as excellent.
ACADP acknowledges that within the legal justice system of different countries, there are certain reasons and purposes for punishing people who commit certain crimes - to prevent them from repeating their misdeed, to show remorse for their crime, and to deter others from similar misdeeds.
However, the execution of a human being is seen by many people around the world, including Australia, as a severe form of punishment because it is so "final".
ACADP believes that every human being has the potential to improve and correct themselves. If Nguyen's life is ended, he is deprived of the opportunity to change and to become a better person, to restore the harm he has done to society, and to compensate for it in various ways, such as educating and warning our children of the dangers associated with drug use and the risks of peddling in the drug trade.
Death is something no mother wants for her child, in fact it is something family members do not like to even think about. Nguyen's family will be deprived of a loved family member if his life is ended. Nguyen is a mother's son and a mother's child is her world, the human life she created is an extention of her own life.
The deep anguish a mother endures when the death penalty is carried out on her child cannot be understated. Only a parent can fully comprehend the life-long anguish this ultimate punishment will endure.
The family unit is considered the most important structure of humanity, by every nation, every culture and every religion. The family unit is the backbone of our society and over recent decades we have seen the unfortunate negative consequences that accompany the breakdown of the family unit.
Through no fault of his own, Nguyen was born and raised in a fatherless environment. This of course, is not an excuse for committing the most foolish crime. However, by ending the human life of Nguyen, it would also create another set of innocent family victims - his loving mother and twin brother.
ACADP recognises the massive problems associated with drug-trafficking, and the importance of curbing the world drug trade. We recognise the suffering of victims with drug addiction and the pain of their loved ones. We recognise the serious problems governments are facing to eradicate this malignancy from society. We acknowledge that most countries, including Singapore, are facing a huge dilemma in their fight against drug crimes. ACADP agrees the eradication of the supply of drugs is an important task for governments around the world. Equally important is the alleviation of social conditions that encourage drug-traffickers.
Major world religions teach compassion, forgiveness and mercy. The fundamental philosophy of every religion is that compassion and human dignity overcomes everything - the death penalty is fundamental to human dignity - not hurting human life is consistent with these religious teachings. The fundamental theme of all religions is non-violence and not hurting any human life. Humanity revolves around non-violence, non-revenge, compassion, human dignity, and all that comes with these virtues.
In this final request for clemency, in the name of human respect for human life, morality and mercy, I sincerely trust that through the compassion in your heart, you may find an alternative punishment for this young man, without the need to end his young life.
The Singapore government, has such a good relationship with Australia. You have the power to grant clemency to Nguyen Tuong Van who is an Australian citizen. Expell Nguyen from Singapore instead of killing him in the name of justice. Please ... do not add further grief to Nguyen's family members. I urge you to consider allowing Nguyen to serve his prison sentence in Australia, where via the close emotional support from his family, he can receive the necessary counselling for rehabilitation.
Your Excellency, thank you for your mercy and consideration concerning this very important matter.
ACADP: PO Box 577, Endeavour Hills Vic 3802 AUSTRALIA
By ACADP October 21, 2004
AUSTRALIAN COALITION AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
© ACADP Incorporated ¨
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