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Australia: thousands attend funeral for Van Nguyen

Australia: thousands attend funeral for Van Nguyen

By WSWS reporters - World Socialist Web Site

More than 3,000 people attended a funeral service yesterday for 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van, expressing the deeply felt public opposition to his barbaric execution by the Singapore government last Friday.

Mourners lined up outside the entrance to St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne up to an hour before the 11 a.m. service to sign their names on condolence sheets. Many wore white—the traditional colour of Vietnamese mourning.


Nguyen was arrested at Singapore airport in December 2002, en route to Australia, carrying 396 grams of heroin. The offence carries a mandatory death sentence in Singapore, yet the Howard government made no attempt to save the life of the Australian citizen of Vietnamese descent, and opposed legal attempts to block his execution by an appeal to the International Court of Justice.

The outpouring of opposition by ordinary people was in stark contrast to the response of the Labor Party. Victorian Labor Premier Steve Bracks, who had earlier stated that he would go about business as usual on the morning of Nguyen’s execution, told the press on Tuesday that he would not be attending the funeral because he did not want to “glorify” Nguyen.

Eulogies delivered at the service by Van Nguyen’s friends and by his defence lawyer Lex Lasry QC, described Nguyen’s sense of compassion and concern for others.

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