Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Not a Martyr, Not a Hero, but a Human Being

More than 1000 mourners attended the funeral of Nguyen Tuong Van, the 25-year old man executed by the Singapore government for possession of 400 gm of heroin.

One mourner was Robert Marshall, of Panton Hill. Though his son died because of drugs, he was at the funeral to offer support to the family of Nguyen. He said:

"My family has been affected by drugs, and my son died because of drugs, so I am very aware of the scourge of drugs, but I firmly believe Van should not have had his life taken from him. So, I've come to show my support just as one of thousands of Australians who I think will turn up today to show their support for the family.”

Truly a big hearted man of compassion who didn’t permit his terrible personal loss to fill him with hatred.

Sister Carole McDonald, of the Sisters of Mercy, said she attended because she wanted to raise her voice against the death penalty. She believed that Nguyen made a terrible mistake, but the use of capital punishment to kill him or anyone diminishes us all. She thought the Australian Government should have done more to bring him home to Australia and dealt with under Aussie laws.

The issue has never been about Nguyen’s guilt – that was established. The issue has been, is and will be about the death penalty. How brutal and barbaric can a government be to execute a living human being.

His family at his funeral said that Van was not a martyr nor a a hero, but someone dear to many because within the struggles of his short and sometimes difficult life, he learned to live for others and with a heart of love for God, and for all the people he knew.

Nguyen's final entry in his diary, written just 2 hours before his death, and printed on the last page of the prayer book, said:

"It is now my 11th hour. My work here is done now. Pray, may I not have failed you completely and by the grace of God may you find strength and comfort in these words my heart now speaks to you my brothers and sisters. Fear not, my brothers and sisters. Fear not.

The congregation at the church gave him a final hurrah and
clapped spontaneously as the funeral procession moved outside.

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