Singaporean runner Nafiz Kamarudin was apparently stopped from participating in the annual Yellow Ribbon Prison Run yesterday — all because he had worn a t-shirt protesting the death penalty in Singapore.
At least, that’s what his side of the story tells.
The annual event was organized as part of a 15-year-old campaign to rally more support from the community in giving ex-offenders a second chance at life. This year’s run took place from 6am to 1pm yesterday, with runners starting from the SAF Field in Changi.
One hour into the event, Nafiz, 38, who had signed up for the 10km competitive run, took to Facebook to say that he had been refused from the event because he was wearing a t-shirt that had the words “‘2ND CHANCES’ MEANS NOT KILLING THEM” emblazoned on the front.
In his post, the first aid trainer said: “So they did not allow me to run, despite being clear on their site that runner(s) can use any other tops other than their official (event) T-shirt.”
Nafiz added: “This will not stop me from achieving my goal on my birthday. I will be running parallel to them. Screw the medal.”
The same words were also printed on Nafiz’s original running bib before he was later asked by organizers over the phone to replace it with only his name, as the message was “not in line” with the Yellow Ribbon Project’s cause. It also appears that the call came days after Nafiz showed off his bib on Facebook on Aug. 31.
In response to the organizer’s request for his bib to be replaced, Nafiz wrote his explanation in another post last Thursday, saying: “Does that sound stupid to you? They’re promoting giving ex-offenders a ‘2nd Chance’ but they do not agree that in order for 2nd chances to be given, you have to first not hang them to death.”
He added: “Come on, Yellow Ribbon Project, don’t be hypocritical.”
According to Singapore laws, there are 32 offences in Singapore that could potentially warrant death sentences. Four of them call for the mandatory death penalty: murder, drug trafficking, terrorism, and the possession of unauthorised firearms, ammunition or explosives.
Slogan was ‘offensive’
Speaking to Coconuts Singapore over the phone, Nafiz explained that he had always been against the death sentence in Singapore but that it was his first time showing it in public yesterday.
He also said that he met with organizers two days prior to exchange his bib and confirm with organizers that he could wear whatever he wanted.
Prior to the meet-up, Nafiz was called by organizers thrice to tell him to change the bib or he would not be able to join the event. During one of the calls, he was apparently offered a refund.
On event day, Nafiz and his wife — who was there to support him — arrived wearing the yellow slogan t-shirts in question and were soon confronted by organizers who told them that the slogan was “offensive,” and that Nafiz could not participate unless he changes his top, the runner said.
Nafiz then decided not to join and instead ran alongside runners from outside the barricades. There was, however, one point along the route where there were no barricades and Nafiz had to “merge” with the other runners.
Near Changi Prison, where the route ends, Nafiz stopped running and was watching other runners passing by when “prison officers” came to escort him away to a nearby traffic light.
He has been asked to visit the police station in Bedok to give a statement, he said.
Coconuts Singapore has reached out to the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run organizers for comment and will update this story as soon as more information becomes available.