Jesuit's silent protest against noose

A Melbourne parish priest of Van Nguyen yesterday carried the Queen's Baton past the Richmond home and church of the executed man in silent protest against the death penalty.

Fr Peter Norden - a Jesuit who campaigned to save Van Nguyen from the noose after he was convicted of smuggling heroin in Singapore last year - carried the baton to protest against the continuing practice of capital punishment in 37 Commonwealth countries.

Singapore was the target of specific attention for its "enthusiasm for putting a noose around the neck of criminal offenders", Fr Norden said.

"Australians can rejoice that in this country there can be public debate about the issue of capital punishment. In Singapore, with the media under tight government control, only occasionally does a state-sanctioned killing even get reported.

"The voices of so many Australian people fell on the deaf ears and the hard heart of the Singapore government in December last year. It is time for those voices to be heard by the international community," he said.

Speaking on Southern Cross Radio today, Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden said the baton should not be used to make political statements.

"It is a misuse of it and its not supposed to be hijacked by any particular person or organisation in any particular manner,'' he said.

The Queen's Baton Relay starts at Buckingham Palace and ends up in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games which open today.

Priest's silent protest (The Age 14/3/06)
Silent protest against the Commonwealth Death Tally (St Ignatius Parish, Richmond 13/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Parish of St Ignatius, Richmond
Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games

Priest says Australia 'galvanised' against death penalty (CathNews 29/11/05)

Commonwealth Death Tally (St Ignatius Parish, Richmond 13/3/06)
Baton relay used as hanging protest (Herald-Sun 15/3/06)
Editorial: Let the Games begin (Herald-Sun 15/3/06)
Baton protest 'disappointing': Madden (The Age 15/3/06)

15 Mar 2006