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Arrests Focus Spotlight on Anti-Free Speech Laws

The arrests of three demonstrators in Singapore who were protesting the plight of transgender students highlights the extent of free speech restrictions in the city-state. Authorities arrested the trio on January 26 as they picketed outside…
201801wr_singapore_human_rights A woman wrapped in the rainbow flag is seen at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore's annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore July 1, 2017.
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Stop Detaining Democracy Rally Organizers

(New York) – Thai authorities are increasingly arresting pro-democracy leaders in Bangkok for their role in organizing the widening protests, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately drop all charges and unconditionally…
Over 10,000 people gathered in the streets around Bangkok's Democracy Monument on August 16, 2020 calling for reform in the Thai government. 
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Keeping a Law on the Books Just to Demonize a Minority is Clearly Wrong

  On March 30, 2020, the Singapore High Court has dismissed three cases seeking to strike down a colonial-era law that makes consensual gay sex a crime. With a highly technical reading of the law, High Court Justice…
Participants at the annual Pink Dot Singapore event, in Singapore on June 28 2014.
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Junta’s Empty Promises to Respect Rights, Restore Democracy

(New York) – Thailand’s junta did little in 2018 to address the country’s mounting human rights concerns, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2019. The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has promised general elections…
Protesters march near Thammasat University in Bangkok on May 22, 2018, the fourth anniversary of the Thai junta's 2014 coup, demanding that a general election be held this year. (
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Authorities Repress Critical Voices, Independent Media

(New York) – Singapore used broad laws in 2018 to intensify already severe restrictions on free speech and assembly, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2019. The government appears poised to introduce legislation on “deliberate…
Jolovan Wham participates in a silent protest with eight other activists on an MRT train in Singapore, June 3, 2017
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Use of Martial Law Raises Fears of Mistreatment

(New York) – Thai authorities should release or charge with a credible offense an ethnic Malay Muslim human rights activist who has been detained in the deep south, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities arrested Burhan Buraheng of the human rights…
Human rights activist Burhan Buraheng has been arbitrarily detained without charge in a military camp in Thailand’s Pattani province since August 1, 2018.
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Reject Changes to Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act

(Bangkok) – Singapore’s parliament should reject proposed revisions to the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act extending detention without trial and allow the law to lapse, Human Rights Watch said in a January 31, 2018 letter to…
The parliament house in Singapore, August 2016.
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Rights Record on Free Expression, Assembly Worsens

(New York) – Singapore’s government imposed further restrictions on free speech and peaceful assembly while harassing and prosecuting critical voices in 2017, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018. In the 643-page…
201801wr_singapore_human_rights A woman wrapped in the rainbow flag is seen at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore's annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore July 1, 2017.
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Government Hurdle for International Corporate Sponsors Leads to Local Business Support

Pink Dot, Singapore’s annual event bringing people together in support of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, proved extra special this year when over 100 local businesses sponsored the gathering. This year,…
A woman wrapped in the rainbow flag is seen at the Pink Dot rally, Singapore's annual gay pride rally, at a park in Singapore July 1, 2017.
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Ill-Treatment, Unfair Trial for Those Sought by Turkey Over Alleged Gulenist Links

(New York) – Burmese authorities have forced back Turkish asylum seeker, Muhammet Furkan Sökmen via Thailand, putting him at risk of serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 24, 2017, Burmese officials…
Burma/Thailand: Deported Turkish Man at Risk PHOTO
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Court Ruling Opens the Way to Marriage Equality

Taiwan’s constitutional court this week paved the way for marriage equality in the country by striking down the legal definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman.” The landmark decision declared this limited…
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2017.
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Recent moves by Singapore's government to change its notoriously narrow public order law to further restrict free speech came as no surprise. But the specificity and persistence of the moves by the country's home affairs ministry -- first, in June, a…
Participants at the annual Pink Dot Singapore event, in Singapore on June 28 2014.
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Premier’s Visit is Chance to Address Censorship, LGBT Protections

(Washington, DC) – United States President Barack Obama should press visiting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to address the Singapore government’s severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms, Human Rights Watch said today. President Obama will meet with…
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Barack Obama deliver remarks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 22, 2015.
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Re: State Visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Dear President Obama, As you prepare for the state visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on August 2, 2016, we write to highlight key human rights concerns that we hope you will raise in both public and private…
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Government Presses Foreign Sponsors of PinkDot Festival

(New York) – The government of Singapore should rescind its call for foreign corporations to cease sponsorship of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) diversity event, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the home affairs minister. The…
© 2014 Reuters. Participants gather for the 2014 PinkDot celebration in Singapore.
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Thailand has taken a big step in protecting transgender people from discrimination. Earlier this month, Thailand’s Gender Equality Act came into effect, signaling an inclusive future for the country’s legal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual…
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Repeal Retrograde Law Banning Consensual Sex Relations Between Adult Men

(Berlin) – A Singapore Supreme Court ruling on October 29, 2014 to uphold the country’s ban on same-sex relations between consenting adult men is a major setback for equal rights in Singapore, Human Rights Watch said today. The court decision sends a…