Ziggy Marley used his social media networks to speak out against the Singapore government’s plan to execute a man by hanging after he was caught with two pounds of cannabis.
“So the government of #singapore is going to kill a human being for two pounds of cannabis,” the singer posted on Instagram Tuesday, alongside a screenshot of an article covering the case. “Is that just or moral? Singapore what are you doing?”
Global media picked up on the shocking story of Omar Yacob Bamadhaj last week, after the 41-year-old’s appeal was denied by the country’s highest court. Omar was detained at a border checkpoint in July 2018 while driving a car in which his father was also traveling. Authorities discovered three aluminum foil-wrapped bundles in his trunk, which Omar claimed were “plants for herbs.” They were, indeed, cannabis. His sentence was handed down in February.
In court, Omar claimed that he initially refused when his acquaintances asked him to bring the bundles to Singapore from Malaysia — contradicting two statements he gave the day of his arrest stating that he had been paid $500 to transport each bundle. Omar testified that Singapore authorities had obtained the false confessions from him, ironically, by threatening to hang him, along with his father.
Singapore is known for its draconian, zero-tolerance drug laws. Cannabis possession alone can lead to 10 years in jail, a $20,000 fine, or both. Trafficking any more than 500 grams of cannabis can result in the death penalty.
“Singapore’s heavy reliance on draconian laws and policies have not only failed to tackle the use and availability of drugs, they also give zero effective protection from drug-related harm and instead facilitate a raft of human rights violations,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty International’s death policy advisor, while commenting on the case, as reported by Vice.
Sangiorgio called the high court’s decision to continue on course with Omar’s killing a “callous decision.”
The term would likely be seen as a woeful understatement to Marley, whose own family has been plagued by Drug War policing. His global cannabis icon father Bob was famously arrested on weed-related charges in England in 1977. Ziggy’s brothers Julian Ricardo and Stephen Nesta were also detained in Florida in 2002 for cannabis possession.
Ziggy also called out the media outlets covering the case for referring to cannabis as a “drug,” linking the terminology to the plant’s demonization.
“The article says the ‘drug’ not the plant,” Marley wrote. “Still trying to sell us that line, still trying to fool the people, still killing the people for a plant. f’ing ridiculous in any time or place it’s 2021. It’s illegal in that country I get it but to kill a person for that should also be #ILLEGAL on the planet #EARTH. No one to stand up for this lone human being. There is so much injustice in the world and everyone of them counts! #humanity”
Marley signed off with wishing the deceased reggae icon Peter Tosh a happy birthday. The “Legalize It” singer, who would have been 76 on October 19, was regularly targeted by Jamaican police for his outspoken advocacy of cannabis. Tosh’s son Jawara McIntosh died in 2020 from injuries sustained from a beating in a New Jersey jail, where he was serving time for cannabis-related causes.