#DearSyed: “Can I share a painting with you?”

#dearsyed is a letter-writing campaign by the Transformative Justice Collective (TJC) in solidarity with death row inmate Syed Suhail, whose brave voice moved us to come together and build a movement for the abolition of the death penalty. We’re collecting letters for Syed throughout the month of March 2021. Read more about the campaign and get involved: https://tinyurl.com/dearsyed


Hi Syed,

I got to hear about your death sentence, from other users of the Internet.

Can I share a painting with you? I made it myself (about one year ago, in May 2020).

What’s your favourite story, fictional or otherwise? I liked this book called “Bridge to Terabithia”. It’s about a young boy who found a good friend. They created an imaginary world where they were king and queen. But that good friend died. What happened to that young boy? He was sad. It took a long time, but he later invited his (younger) sister to the forest where his good friend and himself have been meeting to become king and queen. It is an ending for his good friend, but a beginning for his younger sister.

This painting is what I imagine Terabithia to be like.

What kind of world would you like to live in, Syed? Is this world enough for you?

I’ve been disappointed many times by this world and the people in it, Syed. So I find it helpful to have a religion (Christianity), and a after-life to look forward to. (Heaven, Hell and so on).

Do you know the prophets Isa and Muhammed, in the Quran? (Peace be upon them). They suffered very much, in this world. But God rewarded them for enduring to the end, even enduring to the point of death.

Do you believe in God and the Here-after – or the After-life – Syed?

Anyway, I thought of you today. And I believe my god is not unaware of you – and your situation – as well.

I wish you peace of mind. If you find it helpful, please think of a place you have enjoyed. Imagine its sounds – what do you hear? – and its sights – it is just around the corner, what do you see?

You don’t have to tell me, you just have to picture it in your mind.Now you are there. Your favourite place. Breathe in, breathe out.

You can do this imagining exercise whenever you are ready, Syed. As many times as you like. Hope it helps you.

(I learnt it from someone who helps people with cancer, feel better. The cancer is terminal. That means those people are going to die of cancer.)

Yours faithfully,
Tan Pheng Heong, also known as Tony Chen

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