In an unprecedented move, 237 family members and friends of prisoners who have lived on death row in Singapore have rallied together to call for Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam — an intellectually disabled man who is facing imminent execution on Wednesday, 10 November — to be spared, and for the cruel punishment of the death penalty to be abolished.
The letter (embedded below), signed by loved ones of 13 different current and former death row prisoners and addressed to President Halimah Yacob, is a piercing indictment of the trauma and hardship that those on death row endure, and the devastating ripple effects on the families and communities of those condemned to death.
The signatories include loved ones of people who are currently on death row in Singapore, people who have been acquitted after living on death row for years, and people who have already been executed. The letter will be hand-delivered to the Istana at 10am on 8 November by Sharmila Rockey, the sister of Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin. It has also been sent by email to members of the Cabinet and all Members of Parliament.
The letter highlights how many death row prisoners, most of whom are sentenced for nonviolent drug-related offences, come from the margins of society and need care, resources and support, rather than violent punishment.
This act of solidarity is particularly significant given that the family members of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who have had to overcome significant hurdles to travel to Singapore from Malaysia in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, are not able to appeal to the President directly for clemency. Apart from daily visits to the prison, Nagaenthran’s four family members currently in Singapore are not allowed to leave their hotel rooms as they have yet to complete the required quarantine period.