[Statement] ASEAN Summit issues are ASEAN Peoples’ concerns: Uphold, assert and protect ASEAN Peoples’ human rights- PAHRA


The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) believes that issues discussed in ASEAN Summits are the concerns of the ASEAN peoples individually and collectively as members of ASEAN.  It is for this reason that civil society organizations coming from the member countries engage ASEAN both on the national and regional levels as issues emerging from the three pillars of ASEAN cannot be insulated, much less severed from human rights concerns. Peoples’ experiences of gross human rights violations in the economic, civil, cultural, political and social arenas in the regional level which are consequent, directly and indirectly, of ASEAN policies must be discussed and resolved on the same level.  It should not to be solely the concern of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).  Human rights are to permeate the framework and workings of the three pillars of ASEAN.

Last November 18, Indonesian and Filipino activists for climate justice wanted to engage the ASEAN Summit so that the ASEAN leaders address resolutely the negative impact of actions taken since the ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) up until before the recently concluded Summit.  Seven activists, 3 Indonesians and 4 Filipinos,  have been arrested and detained.

Unfortunately, the Indonesian government, with the acquiescence of the Summit leaders, has chosen to replicate its action against the Climate Justice activists as it did to a Greenpeace campaigner just last October 2011.  Greenpeace intended, after gathering growing evidences and in solidarity with Indonesian environmental activists, to expose the truth about Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), an Indonesian company. APP has been said to be still destroying huge tracts of rainforest and extraordinarily practicing greenwash.  Instead of implementing the avowed ASEAN “transparent manner” (ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Joint Response to Climate Change, Ha Noi, 9 April 2010), the Indonesian government deported the Greenpeace personnel.

Deforestation has led to health problems and depletion of food sources as in several ASEAN countries.  In many ASEAN members, foreign corporations are given liberal terms of entry and operation that exacerbate deforestation, such as mining in the Philippines, affecting severely peasants’ lives and indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands as well as their full development.

PAHRA strongly calls on ASEAN:

·   to uphold the peoples’ right to information as to the real impact of climate change, such as deforestation;

·   to protect the rights to free expression and to peaceful assembly;

·   to refrain from or to halt arrest, detention, filing of charges and/or deportation of solidarity groups of human rights defenders which peaceably engage ASEAN and its members in the national and regional levels.

Max M. de Mesa
November 21, 2011


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