HRW Deputy Director: Singapore government’s actions led to Amos Yee’s appeal for protection as a refugee

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Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's (HRW) Asia division, gave a statement on 24 December 2016 in relation to the detention of Singaporean blogger, Amos Yee who is seeking political asylum in the USA.

The Deputy Director of HRW Asia wrote, “Amos Yee is the sort of classic political dissident that the UN Refugee Convention was designed to protect, and Human Rights Watch hopes the US will recognize his asylum claim.”

“No one should doubt that it was the Singapore government’s actions to consistently harass and bully Amos Yee for his activism, and ultimately criminalize his acts, that led Amos Yee to this appeal for protection as a refugee."

Yee was seeking political asylum in America, but he has since been detained in the US when he arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, declaring himself as a visitor to the country.

It has not yet been confirmed why Yee was picked out by the US immigration, but the US immigration department said that the detained was according to protocol and procedures for persons seeking political asylum. Yee is currently held at the McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility.

Yee is now in contact with his US Lawyers and would be instructing his lawyers and to coordinate with the NGOs.

In September 2016, the 17-year-old was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment and a $2,000 fine in total for eight charges - two for failing to turn up at a police station and six for wounding the feelings of Muslims and/or Christians. Yee had rejected an earlier offer from the prosectutor at the start of the trial and contested all the charges against him; he had represented himself in court to stand trial.

Phil Robertson posted the HRW public statement on his Twitter.

The HRW director's statement in full:

"The Singapore government has subjected Amos Yee to a sustained pattern of persecution, including intimidation, arrest and imprisonment, for publicly expressing his views on politics and religion, and severely criticizing the government’s leaders, including the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Since his release from prison, Yee has faced intensive government surveillance and monitoring of his public and on-line comments. Amos Yee is the sort of classic political dissident that the UN #Refugee Convention was designed to protect, and Human Rights Watch hopes the US will recognize his asylum claim.

No one should doubt that it was the Singapore government’s actions to consistently harass and bully Amos Yee for his activism, and ultimately criminalize his acts, that led Amos Yee to this appeal for protection as a refugee."