[Joint Statement] ASEAN urged to heed UN Sec-Gen call for ceasefire, ensure human rights amid COVID19

Southeast Asian states should heed the call for a global ceasefire, ensure conflict sensitivity and human rights in responding to COVID19 crisis

We the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals, strongly urge the Member-States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to heed the call of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres for immediate global ceasefire in active armed conflicts in all parts of the world, in order to focus on the fight against the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We likewise call on States to place human security and conflict sensitivity as core principles in their emergency responses, ensuring that measures are proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory aligned with international human rights law and standards and are sensitive to the disproportionate vulnerability to pandemics of conflict-affected communities, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless, internally-displaced persons (IDPs), people with disabilities, women, children and elderly.

In Southeast Asia, active armed conflicts are ongoing in the Philippines especially in Mindanao, in West Papua in Indonesia, in the Southern provinces of Thailand, and in various ethnic states all over Burma/Myanmar. These armed conflicts have created millions of refugees and internally displaced peoples. According to the UNHCR, in 2017, there were 3.37 million “persons of concern” in Southeast Asia, of which approximately 1.46 million were refugees, 74,416 asylum seekers, 1.17 million stateless, and 665,051 internally displaced persons. Not only are health systems of war-torn communities inadequate, but the access to healthcare and other forms of social protection by the most marginalized groups in ongoing active armed conflicts is almost none.

The COVID19 pandemic will undeniably test the capacity for crisis mitigation and the response of governments, and will potentially ravage each and every society. We are concerned, however, of countries and communities where overt violence and political instability are present and where economic capacities and social capital are fragile, making them more vulnerable to the impact of the outbreak, and possibly exacerbating existing conflicts or giving rise to new ones.

This is a test of ASEAN leadership in the region, and a test of ASEAN integration beyond just economics and trade. Unsurprisingly, however, the ASEAN members have yet to respond to the crisis as a regional community. Many countries beyond the region have also taken a me-first strategy, as the UN itself struggles to rally a decisive, coordinated global response. States need to recognize that while border lockdowns may temporarily contain the pandemic, without supporting the capacities of more fragile countries and without coordinated action, we will not be able to beat the virus. Solidarity among peoples and nations is needed now more than ever.

The virus will not discriminate with regards to religion, race, ethnicity, political ideology and affiliation. This will hurt us all, but still, this will unevenly hurt the poor, the politically and economically marginalized and the communities that are already devastated by violence — the same people in whose name many of the state security actors and non-state armed groups claim to fight for.

It is in light of these that we argue that a global ceasefire is not only a prudent step but a moral imperative.

All efforts must be expedited to contain the pandemic and find durable solutions to this common problem. Ceasefires will allow humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable communities and can open corridors for dialogue and coordination for emergency response, without the risk of being derailed due to any unnecessary armed confrontation. Resources must be directed preventing further damage to those who have already lost so much through armed conflict.

In line with this aim, States must ensure that human security and social justice are at the heart of their response and that emergency powers are not abused for narrow political gains, otherwise such will only exacerbate the inequalities, insecurity, and distrust that underpin these armed conflicts.

Thus, we call on States to take the following steps without delay:

1) Declare immediate unilateral ceasefires in order to establish humanitarian corridors and delivery of aid, particularly health education and services, to affected communities. This can serve as a starting point to negotiate and forge reciprocal ceasefire agreements and ceasefire monitoring mechanisms with armed groups;

2) Allocate adequate resources to ensure non-discrimination, transparency, and respect for human dignity in the delivery of health services and humanitarian aid, regardless of citizenship, race, religion, political affiliation, gender, and economic status. Utmost attention must be provided in addressing the particular needs of the most vulnerable and conflict-affected communities, such as indigenous peoples, refugees, stateless, asylum seekers, IDPs, such as their access to clean water and sanitation, to protective and hygiene equipment like face masks, and to immediate testing, quality medical care, and social protection. The special needs and disproportionate risks for displaced women must be addressed;

3) Ensure that the crisis response, including implementing state services and security forces, abides by the existing standards and principles of international human rights law. Declarations of state of emergencies, community-quarantines, lockdowns, and restriction of freedom of movement must not come at the expense of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. Internet shutdowns that are in place in conflict-affected areas must be lifted, and context-specific information dissemination must be put in place in order to ensure every person is informed on the status of the pandemic and the government response. Emergency powers enacted into law must have clear limitations and have oversight and grievance mechanisms;

4) Take steps to ensure support for and the safety of people involved in crisis response, especially healthcare workers in the frontlines, such as by providing them adequate protective gears and equipment and psychosocial support; and,

5) Divert resources from arms and military spending to healthcare, social services, and peacebuilding.

We further call on the ASEAN to initiate and facilitate the space for mutual support and strategic coordination among member-states, especially in ensuring the wellbeing and rights of conflict-affected communities, refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless, internally displaced persons. This is the moment for ASEAN and its member states to act as a “people-centered, people-oriented,” caring and sharing community.

Endorsed by:

Organisations
1. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)-Southeast Asia

2. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), the Philippines

3. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), Cambodia

4. ALTSEAN-Burma

5. AMAN-Indonesia

6. Asia Pacific Partnership for Atrocity Prevention (APPAP)

7. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus

8. ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF)

9. Asia Democracy Network (ADN)

10. Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (APR2P), Australia

11. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

12. Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN)

13. Cambodian Civil Society Partnership, Cambodia

14. Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS), Cambodia/Asia

15. Center for Peace Education (CPE)-Miriam College, the Philippines

16. Center for Social Integrity – CSI, Myanmar/Burma

17. Child Rights Coalition (CRC) Asia

18. Focus on the Global South

19. Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI), the Philippines

20. Ichsan Malik Center for Peace and Dialogue, Indonesia

21. In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), the Philippines

22. Institutu ba Estudu Dame Konflitu e Sosial (KSI), Timor-Leste

23. KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence), Indonesia

24. Lumah Ma Dilaut, the Philippines

25. MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), Malaysia

26. Pax Christi Institute, the Philippines

27. Pax Christi Pilipinas, the Philippines

28. Penang Peace Learning Centre (PPLC), Malaysia

29. Peace Building Club Malaysia

30. Peace Women Partners Philippines

31. Peoples Empowerment Foundation, Thailand

32. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), the Philippines

33. Progressive Voice, Burma/Myanmar

34. Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia

35. Radio Rakambia, Timor-Leste

36. Research and Education for Peace, Universiti Sains Malaysia (REPUSM), Malaysia

37. Southeast Asia Conflict Studies Network (SEACSN)

38. Southeast Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Network (SEAHRN)

39. Stop the War Coalition, Philippines

40. Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Research/Education in Asean/Southeast Asia Programme (SHAPE-SEA) Governing Board

41. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia

42. Sulu Current Research Institute – Sharif Ul Hashim Inc., Sulu Archipelago, the Philippines

43. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

44. Terres de Hommes-Germany in Southeast Asia

45. Working Group for Peace (WGP), Cambodia

46. Youth Education for Development and Peace (YEDP), Cambodia

47. 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Organization (Kyun Su) ၈၈ မ ျိုး ဆက်င မ်ျိုး ခ မ်ျိုးရ ျိုးန ှ ပ့်် ွ လ့်် ျိုး်လ အ့် ဖွ ွဲ့အစည်ျိုး(ကျွန်ျိုးစု), Myanmar/Burma

48. 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Organization ( Myeik ) ၈၈ မ ျိုးဆက်င မ ်ျိုးခ မ်ျိုးရ ျိုးန ှ ့််ပွ လ့်် ျိုး်လ အ့် ဖွ ွဲ့အစည်ျိုး (ငမ တ်), Myanmar/Burma

49. 8888 New Generation (Mohnyin), Myanmar/Burma

50. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA- Mandalay Division, Myanmar/Burma

51. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Ayarwaddy Division, Myanmar/Burma

52. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Bago Division, Myanmar/Burma

53. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Magway Division, Myanmar/Burma

54. Action Group for Farmers Affair (AGFA)- Sagaing Division, Myanmar/Burma

55. AGFA Action Group for Farmers’ Affair (Bago), Myanmar/Burma

56. Ahlin Tagar Rural Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

57. AhLin Thitsa Development Committee, Myanmar/Burma

58. Ahnaga Alinn Development Committee, Myanmar/Burma

59. Ahr Thit Yaung Chi (Hline Bwe ) အောျိုးသစ်ရ ော ်ခခည်(လ ်ျိုးဘွ ွဲ့ ငမ ွဲ့နယ်), Myanmar/Burma

60. Airavati Foundation, Myanmar/Burma

61. Alin Thitsar Development Committee အလ ်ျိုးသစစောဖွ ွဲ့ ငဖ ျိုးရ ျိုးရကော်မတီ, Myanmar/Burma

62. Alinsaetamarn Library & Resource Center, Myanmar/Burma

63. All Arakan Civil Society Organizations Partnership (AACSOP), Myanmar/Burma

64. All Kachin Youth Union, Myanmar/Burma

65. Ann Township Pipeline Watch Movement Organization အမ်ျိုးငမ ွဲ့နယ်ပ ုက်လ ု ်ျိုးရ ျိုး ောရစော က့််ကည့််လ ပ်ရှောျိုးရ ျိုး အဖွ ွဲ့, Myanmar/Burma

66. Arakan Civil Society Forum for Peace Network(ACSFPN), Myanmar/Burma

67. Arakan Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association(AHRDPA), Myanmar/Burma

68. Arakan National Congress ( Laytaung )- ခ ု ်အမ ျိုးသောျိုးကွန် က်(ရလျိုးရတော ်), Myanmar/Burma

69. Arakan National Network(ANN), Myanmar/Burma

70. Arakan Peasant Union – APU, Myanmar/Burma

71. Arakan Social Network ( ခ ု ်လ မ ကွန် က်(ရခမပ ု), Myanmar/Burma

72. Arakan Women Union ( ခ ု ်အမ ျိုးသမီျိုး သမဂ္ဂ), Myanmar/Burma

73. Arakan Youth New Generation ( ခ ု ်လ ယ်မ ျိုးဆက်သစ်), Myanmar/Burma

74. Arr Marn Thit Social Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

75. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization, Myanmar/Burma

76. Ayeyar Farmer Union, Myanmar/Burma

77. AYN Ayeyawady Youth Network, Myanmar/Burma

78. Ayyar Pyo May Women Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

79. Badeidha Moe CIvil Society Organization, Myanmar/Burma

80. Bago Women Development Group, Myanmar/Burma

81. Banmaw Youth Network, Myanmar/Burma

82. Bee House, Myanmar/Burma

83. Belinn CSO Network ဘီျိုးလ ်ျိုး CSO ကွန်ယက်, Myanmar/Burma

84. Butheetaung Youth Congress (ဘ ျိုးသီျိုးရတော ်လ ယ်ကွန် က်), Myanmar/Burma

85. Candle Light Youth Group, Myanmar/Burma

86. Cang Bong youth, Myanmar/Burma

87. Central Chin Youth Organization, Myanmar/Burma

88. Child Care Foundation (Myawaddy T.S), Myanmar/Burma

89. Child Prevention Network, Myanmar/Burma

90. Chin MATA working group, Myanmar/Burma

91. Chin youth Organization, Matupi, Myanmar/Burma

92. Chinland Natural Resource Watch Group, Myanmar/Burma

93. Citizen’s Action For Transparency (CAfT), Myanmar/Burma

94. Civil Call (Sagaing Region), Myanmar/Burma

95. Community Association Develovment, Myanmar/Burma

96. Community Response Group, Myanmar/Burma

97. Constitution Network ( Hpa An ) အရခခခ ဥပရေကွန်ယက်(ဖောျိုးအ ငမ ွဲ့နယ်), Myanmar/Burma

98. Dama Ahlin Social Development Organization, Myanmar/Burma

99. Dawei Development Association, Myanmar/Burma

100. Dawei Research Association, Myanmar/Burma

101. Dawei Watch Foundation, Myanmar/Burma

102. DEC Democratic Education Corner, Myanmar/Burma

103. Development Network Hinthada, Myanmar/Burma

104. Doe Myae Social Development Organization ( Tontay ), Myanmar/Burma

105. Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation EMReF, Myanmar/Burma

See more signatories JOINT-STATEMENT_ ASEAN urged to heed UN Sec-Gen call for global ceasefire, ensure human rights amid COVID19 FINAL (1)

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