“I hope we can move towards a more loving, gracious, compassionate, and unified society that wants to understand, not just punish.”
The following letters and artwork were created by people who attended the Stop The Killing events. Many expressed solidarity with people on death row and echoed calls to abolish the death penalty.
Letters to all inmates on death row
To all prisoners, especially those on death row:
You are NOT bad people.
You are whole human beings
Deserving of love, and we love you.
Recollect & focus on the good
That you have done in your lives.
Rejoice in all your positive qualities.
There are people in Singapore who
Can see the good in you,
Care for you,
And believe in second chances.
I cannot imagine what you and your families are going through. I am so sorry.
I wish that light always shines on you,
Especially in the darkest of times.
Hatred never solves any problems.
Love, compassion, light and healing guide the way.
Love is the strongest force in the world,
Overcoming darkness and hatred and pain with the right understanding.
I will keep you in my prayers.
You are worthy
Just the way you are
No matter what you did.
Remember that people love & care for you.
May you learn to love yourselves too,
See that you are whole and deserve respect.
Every human being is a flower in the garden of humanity. As a Buddhist, I believe that everyone of us has Buddha nature.
We will not give up on you
And will continue to fight for you.
Do not give up on yourselves.
Sending you all the love & light,
Dear beloved brothers & sisters on death row,
I deeply am sorry for the circumstances that the Singapore government has put you in, which all of you beautiful souls do not desrve. All of you beautiful people have beautiful stories, families, talents which are unique to each one of you, and I would like to convey that I look up to each and every one of you that are on this cruel penalty implemented by the government because it definitely is not easy as all of you are being put in inhumane conditions and also ultimately disregard of your lives. I look up to each and everyone of you for the strength and bravery you possess. You do not deserve for your life to be taken away for committing a crime but instead all of you brothers and sisters should be given an opportunity to rehabilitate and given a second chance at life. I respect all of you so much and all of you have my heart. Thank you for all that you have done whether it is for society, family members, friends. All of you brothers & sisters are so loved and you will be always kept in my prayers. I stand in solidarity with every one of you. You have been so wronged, and I will never forgive the government for this. I strongly demand that the government halt all executions and ultimately abolish the death penalty. All of your lives are so precious, the state has absolutely no right to snatch that away from you. Again, I am deeply sorry, my brothers and sisters, for you have to face all this and for which my inhumane government has failed you. You have all my love and I care for all you so much.
With love, Dini ❤
To all unjustly on death row,
Please know that there are many of us who know that you should not be judged like this under any law. It is not for the Singapore Courts to decide whether you live or dies. You are meant to be free people, with many more years to live. Please know that there are many others who believe in your right to live. Don’t give up the chase for life and we are behind you.
Although life is challenging and unfortunate circumstance may have stumbled upon you, just to let you know that it was never your fault although a crime has been surfaced and news circulating through the globe. The only fault here is the negligence of police, governments and authorities who has failed to give a chance to the death row inmates. Life would definitely form a second chance where you would gain a transformative life by god who always has a listening ear to you evolution. To those families of every death row inmates, let the world have awareness where death penalty is not fair to your sons that are affected through this, and let justice to be implied to those who may have given an unfair treatment to let the world know how a better system can be formed through proper punishment methods being applied. Through government proper methods being applied, the government can form an inclusive society where death row inmates could lead their lives to enjoy with themselves and families by forging good memories ahead!!!
I just want you to know that I disagree with what was done to you. I pray for you and stand in solidarity with you. I give you all my courage and love, so that if you are down and tired, you can still continue living your life to the fullest.
Please take care of yourself.
With full support,
I was at a series of musical lectures today when I learnt the musical notation above. It stands for ‘hold the note for as long as necessary’, and it is a note commonly used by artists when trying to give the player a way of interacting with musical time in a piece. I suppose I thought of this because at the time, it reminded me of indecision, liminal space and the agency needed to end this period of engagement. I suppose I am thinking of this also because it must be difficult to be on stipulated times, and not have the agency to ‘end the note’ or ‘keep holding it’. As a free person, this dilemma is never on the forefront of my mind. We just live for as long as we are given and keeping our eyes off death is what gives us the freedom to live. I have no words of encouragement because it is quite bleak, but would just like to day that I am with you and thinking of the journey you are presently on, and imagining you in my mind, keeping a version of you alive.
Thinking of what to write in the letter hasn’t been easy especially with the emotions revolving around it and knowing you probably feel 10 times worse than us.
I wish to let you know that you are not alone in this fight and there are a lot of wonderful people who are working together to push for the movement. People who stand by you and believe that together we will overcome the inhumane punishment that has been bestowed upon you in the name of ‘Justice’.
I wish this letter will give you some peace and comfort.
We will continue to fight hard for the movement.
Though the world continues, we miss you being part of it and I think a lot about how you’ve been maligned by us and our systems. I hope we can move towards a more loving, gracious, compassionate and unified society that wants to understand, not just punish.
Letters to Datchina
I have heard of how you have argued your case in court, representing yourself. That was very brave. Well done!
I also heard that you have become a Catholic while in prison. I was baptised when I was very young but have not gone to church regularly for some time. Still, there are some verses that still resonate. One is from Isaiah 40:31
Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
When you feel very weary, I hope that you will find your strength renewed. We had an event tonight organised by TJC and there is a small, friendly crowd. I hope that you and others on death row find some comfort in that.
“To err is human.
To heal is divine.”
I love you brother. It’s okay to make mistakes. We are all human. I support you & I deeply want you to succeed & win. I pray for you. Stay strong! You have our support. Abolish the death penalty. We love & care for all of you on death row.
Syed & Family
Letters to Nagaenthran
Dear Nagaen, I am sorry that the system has failed you, there were many that learned and heard your story. I know you are in a better place and hopefully happier. Many mourned your loss and fought and spoke against the govt. Although we didn’t know you personally, sometimes it feels like you were our brother, you shall always be remembered. Rest easy brother..
I’m so sorry that our state failed you. I definitely don’t feel safer in my country knowing you were carelessly & mercilessly murdered at the hands of the law. I’m so sorry we weren’t able to do more for you, & that you and so many others won’t be given a chance for rehabilitation or the chance to “repent” – a second chance, period. It’s very hard to see your death as something done in the name of justice. Many have talked about how permanent the death penalty is, and it’s definitely a shame that you were dealt the harshest of punishments for a single mistake you made in your youth.
Why is violence only okay when the State does it? That sounds like injustice to me, to have a single body that decides what a life is worth, that one’s right to live is terminated once they make a decision they were potentially coerced into. This doesn’t sound like a compassionate society, and not one I am comfortable living in or raising a child in for that matter.
I’M SORRY WE COULDN’T DO BETTER.
WE FAILED YOU.
Letters to Kalwant
Dear Sonia and Kellvina,
How are you all doing? I hope you are taking care of yourselves these past few months. I am Pei Si, who came to Kalwant’s funeral and chanted Buddhist chants for you and him.
I just read Kalwant’s letter and cried, reading the amount of love and strength he had. So touched that he wanted you to continue to do well in your studies and thrive no matter what happened to him. And the fact that he could thank God for the people helping him. Love heals indeed. I hope that he has a good rebirth, seeing his beautiful heart in the letter.
I am an artist and wanted to share my gift of art with you. I drew stars, the moon, a shooting star and clouds in the night sky/outer space. It visualizes the spirit of Kalwant and the whole universe and humanity. His life, love and legacy continue in you all and all of us. Look up to the sky, the stars, the clouds and you may just see your loved ones. May love and compassion and wisdom always guide the way. May light shine on you and his spirit always. When times are dark, may love, light and healing guide the way.
Every one and every sentient being has Buddha nature. I see this nature in all of you and him. Lotuses grow in the mud and rise out of muddy waters. I wish lotuses for all of you, may we all be inspired & be like lotuses.
Bowing to the Buddha nature in all of you,
Dear Kalwant, those you love, & those who love you,
Thank you for sharing your genuine love which moved me to write. We are all humans, we make mistakes. It pains me that you, and many others on death row do not get a chance to make choices, to make things right, to heal.
I have learnt in my work as a counsellor that people make mistakes because of many condition and situation that they live in. Society also plays a part, and I am sorry that me as part of society, part of humanity, did not have opportunity to help you sooner.
Thank you for renewing my energy to continue my work, to help other suffer less, to help others make choices.
May your love continue to live in those you love, and those who love and care for you.
5 Nov 2022
Letters to Pannir
Hi my brother, I hope you are doing fine in there. I am a stranger but I want you to know that I care for you and I would like to thank you for being so kind, patient, loving & understanding. Even though we have not met, I just need you to know that I do not agree with whatever is happening to you. I pray for better days for you, me & everybody. This letter is from my heart and I need you to know that I support & believe in you. Keep going strong. I pray for you & hope to meet you in a beautiful place one day. I LOVE YOU BROTHER. DO TAKE CARE!
Syed Shabir & Family
How are you? This might sound like a stupid question, asking someone on death row. But the human is a complex species. Even in moments of despair, we find ways to laugh. And even in moments of happiness, we can wallow in deep sadness. Pannir, I have heard your name since I was 20 years old. Thanks to the campaign to save your life. I am now 7. Pannir, what has happened to you is a deep injustice. I don’t believe that anyone should be hanged. The fact that there are so many uncertainties about your case gives further proof that the death penalty is a terrible law. If we find that the person did not actually commit the act in the way he was believed to, can the person hanged be brought back to life? But, you would know & feel all this. Why am I telling you this? I just want to remind you that many people think this. And more people are beginning to think like this. Dear Pannir, hope is what makes us human. I hope that even in these difficult times in prison, you have some hope that you & your comrades on death row can be saved. Till the last second, we must continue to fight. Inside & outside.
Dear Pannir, can I call you brother? I don’t know you, but I’ve read some of your letters. You come across to me as a very kind, thoughtful, & wise person. I hope to meet you one day, somehow. Your family has been fighting so hard for you. When I think of their fighting spirit & yours, it moves me to tears. It has also inspired me so much in my own life. To never give up. To always stick with each other. No matter what.
Dear Pannir, whatever happens, I hope you know that you & your story have touched so many. It has & will transform so many more.
Dear Pannir, I’m not religious, but I pray I can meet you one day, outside. I hope it’s okay to say, dear brother, that I love you. As a fellow human being battling significant odds. My heartfelt solidarity & compassion goes out to you.
May our love as one human species be so powerful that it destroys the death penalty, & in its place, we create a much more powerful, lasting & transformative way of addressing harm.
Letters to Syed
Peace be upon you
Thank you for writing to me, I love the Japanese proverbs that you wrote. I just want you to know that I care for you. Even though you are going through pain & hardship, you still care & want the best for us. You have a big heart & I pray that we will meet in a beautiful place one day. I love you brother. I support you all the way.
“So, surely with hardship comes ease.”
“Surely with ‘that’ hardship comes more ease.”
Peace be upon you
Syed Shabir & Family
(The message is being sent by a horse & may we win the war)