This afternoon, anti-death penalty activists from Jakarta and the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC), gathered to celebrate Deepavali with Mdm Eswari, whose son, Prabagaran, faces imminent execution.
The gathering was hosted by Mdm Vellama, who was the Plaintiff in the landmark 2012 ‘Hougang By-Election’ case.
Prabagaran, or Praba, as he is affectionately known as to those around him, is currently on death row after being arrested in 2012 for the trafficking of drugs. Despite always having
Despite always having maintained his innocence, he was denied a Certificate of Substantive Assistance from the Deputy Public Prosecutioner (DPP) which would have spared him the noose. He is now awaiting for the Court of Appeal to rule on a Constitutional Challenge against the amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act which was heard in July.
If the Court dismisses the challenge, Praba.may be executed as soon as 3 weeks from the time the judgment is released. You can read more about how a possibly innocent man could be hung due to mere circumstantial evidence here.
Celebrating Life in the Festival of Lights
The idea to celebrate Deepavali with Mdm Eswari was in line with the idea that every life represented a light. And the activists felt that during the Festival of Lights, that is Deepavali, they must be with Mdm Eswari to celebrate not only Praba’s life but also her own inextinguishable fire of hope and resistance during throughout campaign.
Throughout the afternoon, Mdm Eswari put up a brave front and appeared stoically lionhearted. The solidarity between Mdm Vellama and Mdm Eswari, both tremendously courageous women in their own right, was inspirational. It seemed clear that, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against her, her fire was still burning bright during the festival of lights.
Also present at the gathering were Social Workers like Mr Jolovan Wham and Indonesian Anti-Death Penalty Activists from the Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty (CADPA). Their presence also symbolified the regional cross-border efforts to fight for the abolition of the Death Penalty throughout ASEAN. You can follow the regional campaign at the Facebook Page, End Crime Not Life.
Mr Ravi, Praba’s former legal counsel, shared his thoughts on the occasion in a Facebook post.
Had a lovely Deepavali gathering today at Vellamma’s place to celebrate the festive occasion with Madam Eswari, whose son is facing imminent execution in Singapore for drug trafficking . Together with us were friends from the Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) and Indonesian colleagues from the Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in ASEAN (CADPA).
Madam Eswari , lighted the traditional lamp with a powerful resolve in her prayers that her son’s precious life will not be snuffed by the state. Deepavali symbolises the celebration of life when we light up this lamp to commemorate the Festival of Lights. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
On a parting note, M. Ravi, who is also a SADPC member, told all present that he “hopes that we will be able to celebrate next year’s Deepavali again with Madam Eswari with the good news that her son was spared the Mandatory Death Penalty.”
Mr Ravi shared that SADPC does intend to mount a vigorous local and regional campaign to save Praba’s life. You may follow and support their efforts here.