Singaporean YouTuber Amos Yee, the 17-year-old provocateur who has been repeatedly targeted for his supposedly blasphemous videos, is no longer in prison, but he says the authorities will not give back the equipment they confiscated from his home.
By way of background, you may recall that Yee was arrested and convicted of “wounding religious feelings” and “obscenity” in 2015 after he made a video mocking Christianity and Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kwan Yew. Though he was handed a jail sentence of multiple weeks, the court awarded him “time served” for how long he had been in custody and basically let him go.
So he continued posting his videos.
Then, this past summer, they came after him again.
The 17-year-old was arrested on May 11 and released on bail of S$5,000.
Five of the charges Yee faces are for allegedly wounding the religious feelings of Muslims, and one for allegedly wounding the religious feelings of Christians. These charges are under Section 298 of the Penal Code.
If convicted, Yee could have spent up to three years in jail in addition to a fine.
Yee was thankfully (?) hit with a jail sentence that only lasted six weeks. Any amount of time is too much, to be sure, but in this case, it could have been so much worse. Yee also had to pay a fine of $2,000.
He’s been out of jail for several weeks now, but Yee posted a message on Facebook earlier today explaining that he has no way of getting his stuff back from the police:
Alright friends, it has happened again. I have been released from prison for several weeks now and the officers from Bedok police station have yet to return my confiscated items.
For those who are unaware, prior to my trial for ‘intending to wound religious feelings’, the police came to my house to confiscate items that were supposedly ‘related to the investigation’. They went into the house without a warrant (the police doesn’t require one for this type of offense apparently), they shackled my arms and legs and spent 4 hours rummaging my house confiscating whatever items that might ‘assist in their investigation’, as is tradition. It happened the 1st time I got arrested, and this time it’s far more outrageous than before. Not only did they take my passport, but because the police wanted substantial enough evidence to seemingly ‘prove’ that I was indeed the one who posted the offensive material (as if that was something I would refuse to admit and was not an obvious fact enough), they took every electronic device that could access the internet and every camera they could find, most of the cameras and laptops were unused, several of the items were my parents’, all of the items are worth up to $20000.
Now of course, it’s understandable to prove that I had indeed posted that offensive material online, and to be ‘thorough’ enough to serve as evidence in court, the police had to confiscate $20000 worth of miscellaneous items, invade my privacy and print out 500 pages of my internet search (they really did that). As is tradition
After my release, I rightfully wanted my $20000 worth of items back. I contacted the inspector of my case, Doreen Chong, who only gave the typical ‘I will contact you once we’re ready to return’ reply. No confirmed date where I can collect my items. No explanation on why they couldn’t release the items immediately. Nothing. The utter lack of transparency is stunning (and this level of accountability spreads across other sectors of the Singapore government, as is customary to a modern dictatorship).
The withholding of confiscated items after my sentence is posing an undeserved punishment, and a complete injustice to a criminal in Singapore, further exacerbated by the fact that they made me a criminal by violating international human rights. The fact that many Singaporeans would respond to this post with condescending comments like ‘this is what you deserve’ or ‘you should not be complaining when you broke the law’, shows that this authoritarian practice has been normalised not only by the Singapore Government, but the brainwashed citizenry, and is a vivid testament to the totalitarian nature of the police state of Singapore.
Therefore I urge my fellow readers to share this post online. Not only to pressure the officers to return my items back, but also to highlight this unjust act to both the local and international community, and show that there will be indeed be resistance whenever the police or the government decides to commit any form of injustice to its citizens
Yee served his time for the non-crime. There’s no reason for authorities to essentially steal his property while they’re at it.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier. Thanks to Prajwal for the link)