Tag Archives: ASEAN

[Appeal] Open Letter to ASEAN on the situation in Myanmar

#HumanRights #Myanmar

Open Letter to ASEAN on the situation in Myanmar

Your Excellencies,

Re: ASEAN’s response to the military coup in Myanmar

As civil society organizations from the ASEAN region, we write to you urging you to use your unique position to influence the situation in Myanmar by taking immediate measures to ensure that the military respects people’s right to peaceful protests and to freedom of expression, that democracy is upheld, and the will of the people respected.

Following the Myanmar military’s illegal seizure of power on 1 February, Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing assumed all legislative, executive, and judicial powers under the newly-established State Administrative Council.

A non-violent pro-democracy movement has since grown nationwide, and the Myanmar authorities have responded by cracking down on fundamental freedoms. Hundreds of senior officials from the National League for Democracy (NLD), pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders have been arrested; mobile phone and Internet communications have been heavily restricted; highly repressive legislation, including a draft Cyber Security Bill and revisions to the Penal Code have been adopted; and restrictions on gatherings imposed.
The Myanmar security forces have also increasingly responded with force against peaceful protesters, using live munitions, water cannons and deploying armored vehicles in cities. Given the abuses committed in the past by the Myanmar military under the command of Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, including international crimes against the Rohingya and in other ethnic minority areas, we are seriously concerned about a potentially violent response from the authorities.

We would like to recall to your excellencies the principles of the ASEAN Charter, which includes adhering to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, as well as the respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also recall the recent UN Security Council statement supporting and encouraging regional organizations, in particular ASEAN, to address the situation in Myanmar.

We welcome the ASEAN Chairman’s statement on the situation in Myanmar, later echoed by the representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). In addition, we are encouraged by the calls made by the leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia in seeking a special meeting of ASEAN’s foreign ministers to discuss the situation.

However, we urge you to go further by immediately using all diplomatic leverage at your disposal to ensure that the Myanmar military refrains from using violence and imposing further restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as to establish a comprehensive response that secures long-term democratic and human rights gains.

Recent developments in Myanmar are disastrous for its people, as well as the region as a whole. They create the potential for thousands of people to flee violence and persecution, as well as a volatile regional environment.

We firmly believe that it is not only crucial, but also in ASEAN’s best interests, to take a strong stance on these urgent and worrying developments. Failure to do so risks further damaging ASEAN’s reputation as an effective regional body that can meaningfully contribute to a strong and viable community of nations.

We draw strength from ASEAN’s productive engagements with Myanmar’s military in the past, most notably in response to the Cyclone Nargis crisis of 2008. We urge ASEAN to recognize that it can be equally helpful to the people of Myanmar today as it was then.

This is the perfect opportunity for ASEAN to demonstrate its political leverage and push for positive developments.

With this in mind, we urge ASEAN to:
• Immediately hold an urgent special meeting to call on the Myanmar military to adhere to the principles of the ASEAN Charter, including the principles of democracy, the rule of law, good governance, and respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms by:
➢ Immediately and unconditionally releasing all those currently arbitrarily detained;
➢ Refraining from using violence against protesters and respecting people’s right to privacy and information, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;
➢ Allowing parliament to resume, and elected MPs to fulfil their mandate without impediment;
➢ Immediately restoring full access to the Internet and all forms of communications; and
➢ Immediately allowing all humanitarian aid and health support to resume unimpeded.

• Collaborate with the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council to immediately send a delegation to the country to monitor the situation and help negotiate a democratic and human rights-based solution.

• Use your position in UN fora, in particular at the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council, to support enhanced monitoring and reporting of the unfolding human rights crisis in Myanmar.

• Impose targeted financial sanctions on the military as an institution, including its businesses and its associates in a manner that respects human rights and gives due consideration to any negative socio-economic impact on the ordinary civilian population, as recommended by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar;

• Impose an embargo on the transfer or sale of military arms and equipment to Myanmar; and

• Use all diplomatic leverage and establish a comprehensive response to ensure long-term democratic and human rights change in the country, including by ensuring that:

➢ The Myanmar armed forces end all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in ethnic minority and ceasefire areas, and that all civilians are protected;
➢ Myanmar guarantees the safe, voluntary and dignified return of displaced communities, including the Rohingya, by lifting all arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on their access to citizenship, freedom of movement, and access to healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities;
➢ Myanmar fully cooperates with the IIMM and complies with the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ; and
➢ Institutional and constitutional changes are adopted that would bring the military under civilian control and ensure accountability for human rights violations.


  1. Alliance for Conflict Transformation
  2. ALTSEAN-Burma
  3. Arakan CSO network
  4. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  5. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
  6. ASEAN Youth Forum
  7. Asia Justice and Rights
  8. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  9. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  10. Athan
  11. Backpack Health Workers Team
  12. BALAOD Mindanaw
  13. Burma Medical Association
  14. Burmese Women’s Union
  15. Child Rights Coalition Asia
  16. Chin Human Rights Organization
  17. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
  18. Cross Cultural Foundation
  19. Democracy, Peace and Women Organization
  20. Equality Myanmar
  21. Freedom and Labor Action Group
  22. Generation Wave
  23. Genuine People’s Servants
  24. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
  25. Human Rights Educators Network
  26. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  27. Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
  28. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  29. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  30. Karen Affairs Committee
  31. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
  32. Karen Grassroots Women Network
  33. Karen Human Rights Group
  34. Karen Peace Support Network
  35. Karen Refugee Committee
  36. Karen Rivers Watch
  37. Karen Student Network Group
  38. Karen Teacher Working Group
  39. Karen Women’s Organization
  40. Karenni Human Rights Group
  41. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  42. Karenni Refugee Committee
  43. Keng Tung Youth
  44. Let’s Help Each Other
  45. Maramagri Youth Network
  46. MARUAH
  47. Myanmar Civil Society Core Group on ASEAN
  48. Myanmar People Alliance
  49. Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma
  50. Olive Organization
  51. Pa-O Women’s Union
  52. Pa-O Youth Organization
  53. Peace Institute
  54. People’s Empowerment Foundation
  55. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
  56. Progressive Voice
  57. Pusat KOMAS
  58. Shan MATA
  60. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
  61. Southern Youth Group
  62. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
  63. The Alliance of Independent Journalists
  64. The Seagull: Human Rights, Peace and Development
  65. Think Centre
  66. Thwee Community Development Network
  67. TRANSCEND Pilipinas
  68. Triangle Women
  69. Women’s League of Burma

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[Off-the-shelf] Human Rights in Southeast Asia in Times of Pandemic -Forum-Asia

Human Rights in Southeast Asia in Times of Pandemic

ASEAN Member States have responded to COVID-19 with a wide number of measures, including the introduction of new laws, policies and practices. The authorities in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines passed or invoked state emergency laws which gave governments sweeping powers. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, while not declaring a state of emergency, utilised existing laws and/or introduced specific, non-emergency legislation. Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have utilised contact tracing apps that act as surveillance over people’s movement. Most countries deployed military and police forces to implement movement restrictions and combat what they described as online falsehood or fake news under the pretext of safeguarding national security and countering COVID-19.

At the ASEAN regional level, the first official response to the COVID-19 Pandemic was on 15 February 2020, with the Chairman’s Statement titled ASEAN’s Collective Response to the Outbreak of the 2019 Coronavirus, on behalf of ASEAN’s heads of states and governments. The statement highlights the need to strengthen coordination of national and regional efforts in ensuring ASEAN’s readiness and responsive measures to mitigate and subsequently eliminate the threat of COVID-19. In addition, the statement provides that the people should be “rightly and thoroughly informed on the COVID-19 situation.”

Since then, several commitments were undertaken at the regional level, among them the adoption of the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the statement made by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) issued in early May to highlight the need to integrate “human rights values” within the response to the pandemic. However, questions have been posed by civil society organisations and the public on whether these commitments have been implemented in practice and in particular whether ASEAN is able to address the human rights situation on the ground.

Participants in the webinars and subsequent research have pointed to several trends in the ASEAN Member States policy on COVID-19. These include resort to a security-approaches as well as wide-scale use of surveillance, which have brought detrimental impact on civic space violations of human rights, including the right to liberty, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association.

Based on observations from webinar participants and FORUM-ASIA’s research, it is evidential that the ASEAN governments’ response to COVID-19 has accelerated the rise of authoritarianism and increased the use of military in further repressing democracy, human rights and civic space. Discriminatory treatment and at times violence towards has marginalised groups, including women, the homeless, people living in poverty, indigenous groups, and LGBTIQ further exacerbate public health risks of members of these groups.

Read more @www.forum-asia.org

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[Statement] Children and Youth must be at the Centre of the Policy-Making Process for COVID-19 Response in ASEAN -Forum-Asia and partners

Children and Youth must be at the Centre of the Policy-Making Process for COVID-19 Response in ASEAN

(Bangkok/Jakarta/Manila, 29 April 2020) – ASEAN Governments have yet to demonstrate a strong commitment towards protecting children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say.

As the most vulnerable groups, they may be often missed as countries struggle to deal with an unprecedented pandemic the current generation has seen, concluded speakers of a webinar, ‘Children and Youth during COVID-19: Their Rights and as Human Rights Defenders’ held today.

The webinar further sheds light on the experiences of children and youth in the face of the pandemic, as well as adult human rights defenders who work with them in adapting their activism work to current challenges.

The webinar was co-organized by the ASEAN Youth Forum, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and the Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia).

‘The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the vulnerability of children and youth in various aspects and disproportionately impacts the learning process of children, adolescents and youth, their means of communication to develop a social network, as well as access to basic services,’ Roshni Basu, the Regional Advisor on Adolescent Development and Participation of the UNICEF, told the webinar.

Documentation and analyses by FORUM-ASIA show that a key challenge that the ASEAN region faces in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic stems from the blanket approach the ASEAN Member States have adopted – the intention to criminalize the spread of misinformation and fake-news in offline and online platforms.

As a result, children and youth are less likely to voice their concerns or seek reliable pandemic-related information.

‘Adolescents and youth need a safe and inclusive space to express their views and engage with duty bearers so that their opinions are considered in decision-making processes,’ Roshni Basu added.

The COVID-19 crisis also impacts the economic vulnerabilities of youth in the region face.

‘The economic depression caused by COVID-19 is expected to cause a surge in youth unemployment, particularly among those who work in the informal sector and those facing additional challenges including legal status issues, those in geographically remote communities, children and youth with physical and mental or psychosocial disabilities, and those with limited access to digital facilities,’ said Ruthra Mary Ramachandran, scholar, and activist from the University of Malaya. ‘It is vital for Governments to put in place policies and relief measures to support youth in building resilience and preparing themselves with the new normal. Young people are both beneficiaries and partners in the journey towards building a better world post-pandemic.’

While young people’s risk of being subjected to gender-based violence perpetrated by family members as well as abuse by domestic and intimate partners rise in the face of strict quarantine measures, their access to health and violence intervention services are disrupted.

‘The situation is particularly concerning for youth and children of sexual minorities and vocal youth activists, as violence and repression appears to be on the rise,’ said Astried Permata, General Coordinator of Pamflet, a youth organization in Indonesia.

Experts are deeply concerned with the impact of the COVID-19 on the stateless, refugees, irregular migrants, and internally displaced youth and children in ASEAN.

‘Youth that are stateless, refugees, or homeless become more vulnerable because they are unable to access state welfare. As dependants, they are also deeply impacted by their parents’ loss of jobs and income,’ said Mueda Nawanat, a youth activist from Thailand.

‘The ASEAN Member States have an obligation to provide welfare for stateless people, migrants, refugees, and homeless so as to protect and support these vulnerable groups,’ Mueda Nawanat added.

The ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) is expected to convene a meeting at the end of April 2020. Experts are urging the body to call on the ASEAN Member States to engage with youth and children to understand their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Despite the absence of a commitment to protect vulnerable groups in the ASEAN Joint Declaration on COVID-19, ASEAN and its bodies are determined to continue encouraging its Member States to develop national-level protocols for the protection of youth and children, as well as other vulnerable groups including women, people with disabilities, and indigenous people,’ said Yuyum Fhahni Paryani, Indonesia’s Representative on Children’s Rights to the ACWC.

Fatimah Zahrah, the coordinator of ASEAN Youth Forum added: ‘It is the time for regional solidarity and the time to act locally. As important as it is to advocate issues at the regional level, we are reminded to reach out to those at the grassroots and to create impact in our local communities. It is important to call for initiatives that directly address the challenges and impacts at the local level.’

Participants of the webinar called for the ACWC to establish a safe and open platform for children and youth to meaningfully participate in the policy-making process in determining inclusive measures that combat the pandemic without leaving anyone behind.

COVID-19 has spurred an unprecedented global crisis. It is a crucial time for actors across the local, regional, and international levels to cooperate in developing a response inclusive of young people, and building resilience for all.

Reiterating civil society’s calls from the previous webinars in a series organized by FORUM-ASIA and its partners, it is imperative for ASEAN Governments to hear and prioritize the most vulnerable, and ensure civic participation in the decision-making processes of the pandemic response in order to be held accountable.


This webinar was the fourth in a six-part webinar series which aims to analyze the human rights dimensions of COVID-19 responses in ASEAN countries. The webinar provides a platform to discuss the implications of COVID-19 responses towards human rights and fundamental freedoms in Southeast Asia, and to strategize human rights-based approaches in ASEAN Member States’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For an overview of the webinar series, please visit: http://l.forum-asia.org/COVID19WebinarSeries

About the organizers:

· The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a Bangkok-based regional network of 81 member organisations across 21 Asian countries, with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity-development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has sub-regional offices in Geneva, Jakarta, and Kathmandu. http://www.forum-asia.org

· The Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia) is a network of child rights organisations working together to be a strong voice for and with children in the region. https://www.crcasia.org/

· The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) is a movement that represents and fights for the young people in ASEAN to voice out their concerns and strategies for ways to achieve a better ASEAN. https://aseanyouthforum.org/

For further information, please contact:
East Asia and ASEAN Programme, FORUM-ASIA at ea-asean@forum-asia.org

For media inquiries, please contact:
Yi-Lan, Communication and Media Programme, FORUM-ASIA at communication@forum-asia.org

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Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

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Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos, etc.

[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:

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)


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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[Statement] Civil society groups convey concern about human rights to ASEAN leaders -Forum-Asia

(Bangkok, 2 November 2019) – Today, for the first time in five years, a formal inter-face meeting took place between ASEAN Foreign Ministers and representatives of ASEAN civil society groups. The civil society organizations came as representatives of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF), which was held in Bangkok in September 2019.

The ASEAN civil society groups had an inter-face meeting with ASEAN Foreign Ministers hosted by H.E. Don Pramudwinai, the Thai Foreign Minister earlier in the day. The other Member States in attendance at the meeting included: Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

‘We appreciated having the opportunity to meet with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and to share concerns and recommendations from civil society in person with them. The ACSC/APF has long been a platform for civil society from our region to raise issues and areas of concern of our people,’ said Chalida Tajaroensuk, Co-Chair of the ACSC/APF 2019.

‘It is encouraging that ASEAN leaders recognized the importance of this by meeting with us today. However, it was disappointing that the Governments of Brunei and Laos did not attend the meeting. Additionally, commitments made by ASEAN Member States over the last years, when it comes to human rights, democracy and development, require much more and bolder action,’ added Suntaree Saeng-ging, the other Co-Chair of the ACSC/APF 2019.

With Vietnam taking over as Chair of ASEAN in 2020, the group of civil society representatives specifically called on the ASEAN Member States to ensure the host country will provide sufficient political space and appropriate protection for the ACSC/APF to be held in Hanoi next year.

It is in the interest of Vietnam, as next year’s host of the ASEAN Summits, to showcase its commitment to civil society and the participation of ASEAN’s people by facilitating the holding of a vibrant ACSC/APF. It would reflect well on Vietnam if it welcomes civil society representatives from across the region to discuss key issues, including on sustainable development and the environment, in a consultative manner.

‘During the exchange, we specifically highlighted: the need to address the Rohingya crisis; proposals to establish an environmental pillar; and the impact of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on the ASEAN people,’ added Rachel Arinii Judhistari of FORUM-ASIA, ‘It seemed there was some willingness to listen to our suggestions on partnership building, but when we raised concerns about human rights and environmental issues this interest seemed to evaporate. In addition, we strongly recommended the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to inform and engage the public about the plan to review the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) through the creation of a panel of experts. A robust review to strengthen the protection mandate is needed to address the current human rights deterioration in ASEAN.’

The civil society representatives conveyed to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers serious concerns from both non-governmental organisations and local communities about a number of issues, including: peace and security; human rights; democracy; access to justice; the impact of trade, investment and corporations people; ecological sustainability; the protection of digital rights; the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, especially as the result of the Rohingya crisis; and decent work, health and social protection.

‘Human rights and fundamental freedoms are trampled on every day in the ASEAN region. We are seeing increasing attacks on human rights defenders, often justified by new passed repressive laws, and the continued persecution of minority groups and marginalized peoples who are unable to defend themselves,’ said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, ‘ASEAN urgently needs to address these human rights issues, but to do so it needs to override its non-interference principle that freezes the abusive status quo in place. A good place to start would be to critically reviewing the mandate of the AICHR, and make changes to its ToR to seriously strengthen its role in the protection of human rights in the region.’

At the end of the press-conference, FORUM-ASIA launched its latest publication, which critically reviews more than a decade of failure by ASEAN’s human rights commission to serious address pressing human rights issues in the region. The report, ‘A decade in review: Assessing the Performance of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)’, comes as the state of human rights in ASEAN member states continues to deteriorate.

For more information on this statement, please contact:
– East Asia and ASEAN Programme, FORUM-ASIA, ea-asean@forum-asia.org

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of human rights organizations across Asia. FORUM-ASIA works to promote and protect human rights, including the right to development, through collaboration and cooperation among human rights organizations and defenders in Asia and beyond. http://www.forum-asia.org

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[From the web] People’s resistance to RCEP intensifies, amplifying #NotoRCEP call! -Focus on the Global South

As governments scramble to save the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement , peoples from Southeast Asia have consolidated their strong opposition to this ambitious and unjust trade and investment agreement

Meeting at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN Peoples Forum held recently in Thailand under the Convergence Space on Trade, Investment and Corporate Power, peoples’ movements and trade activists spoke out strongly against the Mega FTA saying the deal will be detrimental to peoples’ rights.

Afgan Fadilla of Serikat Petani Indonesia (Indonesian Peasant Union), a member of the global peasant movement La Via Campesina, spoke against the assault on farmers’ rights to seeds. “ In East Java and Aceh, peasants are forcefully arrested by the police for breeding their own seeds.” Fadilla decried UPOV 91, the international convention that seeks to protect breeder’s rights, but would undermine peasants right to seeds. Accession and compliance to UPOV 91 is one of the contentious issues being discussed under the intellectual property rights chapter of RCEP. Fadilla also stated that implementation of UPOV 91 will violate United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) which guarantees the right to seed of peasants.

Aside from undermining farmer’s right to seeds, the IPR chapter also threatens people’s access to medicines and right to health.

Chalermsak Kittitrakul of health advocacy group AIDS Access Foundation in Thailand: There is Universal health coverage in Thailand, supposedly guaranteeing treatment for all. That is why the public health budget is very important. We fear that RCEP’s impact pushing upward the cost of medicines, which accounts for 50 percent of the total expenditures under the health subsidy program of the government, will lead to reduction of coverage or worse a halt to the subsidies all together.”

While some contentious issues like data exclusivity and other TRIPs + provisions seem to have been put off the table for now, advocates like Kittitrakul are still concerned that IPR rules and strong enforcement mechanisms are very much still a part of the negotiations. “RCEP is also pushing for establishing high standards for patent examination, which would favor Big Pharma who could easily comply with these standards over smaller generic companies.”

RCEP would also have severe impact on women. Reasey Seng of local Cambodian organization SILAKA: “Women are concerned over the privatization of public services and limited access for women to land and natural resources. RCEP will push a policy environment that favors more privatization of services, contractual and precarious work, and corporate control over land and resources, which would further burden women and reinforce the patriarchal system. “

Ana Maria Nemenzo of WomanHealth, a women’s group focusing on health issues in the Philippines lambasted RCEP for “privileging corporate interest, and limiting the capacity of government to support public health.”

Read more @focusweb.org

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[Press Release] Universal healthcare pushed on World Health Day -NTSP

Universal healthcare pushed on World Health Day

On the occasion of World Health Day in April 7, members of the Working Group on Social ASEAN pushed for the immediate realization of universal healthcare as they decried the highly insufficient state provision for healthcare and the capitalists’ excessive profiting from health services and medicines.

The group composed of networks of civil society organizations, trade unions, migrant workers, and parliamentarians pointed out that healthcare is increasingly treated as a commodity instead of an individual entitlement. The members reiterated that health care is a fundamental right and governments have a responsibility to realize this right. “However, a large percentage of population in our countries are not treated of their health needs.”

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that at least half of the world’s 7.3 billion people still do not have access to essential health services, such as having a skilled birth attendant, vaccinations for children or treatment for HIV. Every day, more than 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And nearly 20 million infants, who do not receive immunizations they need, run the risk of dying from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and measles.

“It is deplorable that instead of increasing national budgets for health, improving health services and facilities, and providing universal healthcare, ASEAN countries are going in the opposite direction of further liberalising healthcare and opting for public-private sector partnerships (PPP) for health services. This is unacceptable because privatizing healthcare results in people being held captive by the profit-driven schemes of corporations and companies,” said the Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP).

“As hospitals and medical services, including diagnostic tests, are being privatized, a large number of the population risk the loss of their lives and their health,” said Charles Santiago, a member of Parliament in Malaysia and chairperson of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“The high costs of private healthcare and governments’ low priority for accessible and quality health services are making ordinary people poorer,” Santiago added.

According to WHO, 100 million people are pushed into poverty annually because of health spending. Around 179 million people spend more than a quarter of their household budget on health care – a level that WHO considers to be “catastrophic health spending.”

Workers are clamoring for state intervention to guarantee healthcare for everyone. With low wages and temporary employment, even salaried workers cannot cope with high hospital bills and excessive price of medicines. “ASEAN member states must ensure that access to health care must be kept affordable to all especially when there is a growing army of gig economy workers in the region” said the ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC).

Meanwhile the Migrant Forum in Asia shared that many migrant workers are having serious problems in accessing health services, thus the network is also campaigning for portability of social protection which includes access to health services.

The Working Group underscored that the provisioning of essential services like healthcare must be guaranteed and financed by the state, as they are connected to the survival, dignity, and development of individuals as well as society as a whole.

“It is important for governments to ensure that 7% of GDP is allocated towards healthcare,” said Santiago as he pointed out that the average total healthcare expenditure per capita in the ASEAN is only about 4% of GDP, based on WHO estimates.

Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, lead convener of Dignidad, reiterated that “healthcare is an essential service that guarantees a person’s wellness. It goes beyond merely treating diseases since health is not just about the absence of disease but the total well-being of a person.”

“It is high time for our governments to act on our demand for a universal and comprehensive social protection. States should institutionalize healthcare for all -– regardless of their social, economic, and cultural standing,” added Nemenzo, also a co-convener of NTSP.

Suntaree Saengging, coordinator of the NGO Coalition for Development in Thailand and HomeNet Southeast Asia, also highlighted that part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by States is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. “Government must therefore provide accessible and quality health care appropriate to individuals’ needs based on gender, age, culture, way of life and abilities.”

“Poverty and limited access to health services contribute to older people’s health conditions. This makes a policy on long-term care, as part of universal healthcare, timely and urgent to help improve the quality of health of all older people in the country,” added Emily Beredico, Executive Director of the Coalition of Services of the Elderly – a member of HelpAge.

85-B Masikap Street Extension, Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City
April 7, 2018
Contact person: Maris dela Cruz (sirmallet@gmail.com; 09173153828)

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13 November 2017 | 06:00 – onward

Photo from ACSC/APF 2017 FB

Tomorrow (13 November 2017), the ASEAN Civil Society Conference / ASEAN Peoples’ Forum 2017 will converge at P. Tuazon Street corner SEA Oil Gasoline Station in EDSA from Novotel Hotel at 6:00 in the evening and will take part together to People Power Monument at 7:00 in the evening.

The solidarity march hopes to draw 1,000 ACSC/APF international and local delegates from various civil society, academe and grassroots thereby bringing their own banners with respective issues and concerns on ASEAN. At the People Power Monument, each country representative of ASCS/APF 2017 will give their solidarity speeches and later to conduct a symbolic turn-over ceremony to Singapore delegates because ACSC/APF 2018 will take place in Singapore.

The said event will be festive as it will feature various cultural presentations and wearing their traditional/national attire from the Southeast Asia delegates. #


The ASEAN Civil Society Conference / ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC.APF) is a solidarity gathering of diverse civil society organizations in Southeast Asia, which organizes its own parallel activities during the ASEAN Summit. It is a broad civil society movement in ASEAN issues that has a strong mandate in representing and strengthening ASEAN Peoples’ voices. (see more at ascs-apf.org)

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[Press Release] ASEAN and EU Parliamentarians decry shrinking civic space; unite with CSOs in defending human rights and rule of law

ASEAN and EU Parliamentarians decry shrinking civic space;
unite with CSOs in defending human rights and rule of law

ASEAN and European parliamentarians speaking at a Town Hall Meeting organized by the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum at the Commission on Human Rights grounds in UP Diliman decry the “democratic deficit” and worsening human rights situation in the Southeast Asian region.

MP Charles Santiago from Malaysia and Chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights stressed that the shrinking of civic space today is “unprecedented as not only labor unions and civil society organizations are under attack, but also members of parliament and political parties”. He said this current alarming situation is starkly different compared to a decade ago.

Rep. Tom Villarin of the Philippine Congress echoed Santiago’s assertion as he noted the “attacks on the freedoms of the press, political parties and democratic institutions” in the region, which signify that the ASEAN merely pays “lip service to human rights.”

“The ASEAN governments are definitely not committed to democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” added Santiago. He pointed out that despite the atrocities committed against the 650,000 Rohingya in Myanmar, “not one ASEAN government stood up.”

Both ASEAN lawmakers also criticized the ASEAN’s policy of non-interference as being selective. “Non-interference merely applies to human rights, democracy and the rule of law and not to trade and investments”, which they say greatly benefit big business while exploiting labor and people’s livelihoods.

Member of European Parliament Enrique Guerrero from Spain is equally alarmed at the shrinking civic space “not only in developing countries but also in Europe.” He noted governments curtail civil society through “taxation, the bureaucracy, criminalization and stigmatization.”

“Civil society organizations push for open democracies and accountability – principles that governments are against,” he said. For CSOs, these are the very principles that challenge and pose as threats to power.

Meanwhile, Member of European Parliament Norbert Neuser from Germany recognizes the importance of civil society to a progressive parliament. “We need CSOs but they also need support to effectively play their roles,” he said to hundreds of participants to the ACSC/APF.

MEP Neuser quipped that “there are no borders in human rights” in reaction to criticisms that the EU is “interfering” in another nation’s affairs when it raises human rights issues.

“Defending human rights is never an interference,” MEP Guerrero added. “We must fight for it in every part of the world, including in our own countries.”

Meanwhile Jelen Paclarin, ACSC/APF Regional Steering Committee Chair, expressed disgust at the ‘rise and normalization of misogyny.”

“The advances and gains of women, their rights and autonomy brought about by several decades of struggle are being reversed”, she said. “Progressive forces and CSOs must come together and collectively counter attacks and hatred against women and further push for their empowerment.”

The parliamentarians reinforced Paclarin’s call and expressed strong support for civil society in Southeast Asia in forging stronger alliances towards ending oppression and marginalization of people in the region.

Dr. Ed Tadem, co-convenor of the ACSC/AFP Philippine National Organizing Committee, raised that after 50 years since ASEAN’s inception, the regional body is “still a work in progress” in terms of engaging with CSOs. “ASEAN has still to arrive at concrete mechanisms in involving CSOs in its processes, more so in partnering with them.“

Dr. Tadem gave this reaction in response to a statement by a representative of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community that although the ASEAN in its blueprint highlights engagement with CSOs, it still faces the challenge of actualizing what is stated on paper.

Dr. Tadem reiterated its call to the Philippine government as chair of the ASEAN to approve its Terms of Reference with it clearly defining the relationship between government and CSOs and their mutually beneficial engagements in relation to ASEAN concerns.

The civil society network has been asking the Philippines as Chair of the ASEAN to leave a significant legacy by institutionalizing peoples’ participation in the ASEAN through a TOR with ACSC/APF. However, the draft TOR, which has been submitted to the ASEAN in December 2016, has been idling away in its office without any action.

Press Release
November 12, 2017
Contact persons: Rhoda Viajar @09178250346 (ACSC/APF2017 Media Officer)
Malu Mendoza @09328726168 (ACSC/APF2017 ICOM Team)

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[Press Release] ACSC/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum criticize ASEAN’s exclusivist character, shrinking civic space; calls for alternative regionalism

ACSC/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum criticize ASEAN’s exclusivist character, shrinking civic space; calls for alternative regionalism

The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People’s Forum 2017 pinpointed today ASEAN’s characteristic exclusion of marginalized peoples and underprivileged sectors since the regional organisation’s inception 50 years ago and called for an alternative regionalism that puts utmost premium to peoples’ rights and concerns in development programs and regional integration.

Jelen Paclarin, Chair of the ACSC/APF Regional Steering Committee, deplored the shrinking civic space given to civil society and peoples’ organizations in ASEAN processes and mechanisms.

“Since the start of this year, the ACSC/APF has been persistently seeking dialogues, interactions and engagements with ASEAN leaders in order to bring to their attention key issues faced by the peoples of Southeast Asia and develop alternatives that address social injustices. However, these have virtually fallen on deaf ears as ASEAN Heads of States and Ministers give least priority to our proposals and initiatives. They do not even give time to meet and discuss with us,” she said.

Paclarin explained that among the reasons they organized a Town Hall meeting entitled “Addressing Shrinking Civic Space in Southeast Asia” in the ACSC/APF activities today was precisely to raise the issue of limited CSO participation in the ASEAN. A town hall meeting is designed to be a venue for civil society, parliamentarians and government representatives to learn from one another on key democracy and human rights issues in the region.

“We organized our own gathering expecting that ASEAN leaders would come upon our invitation and fully listen to peoples’ voices and concerns. Unfortunately, ASEAN leaders chose to grant only token representation by sending ASEAN representatives to our meeting, who are not in positions of significant influence although they may be committed in engaging the people.”

The ACSC/APF further said that over the past 50 years, “the ASEAN and its member-states have generally ignored the plight and demands of farmers, fisherfolk, workers, women, indigenous groups, youth and children, persons with disabilities, and LGBTIQ.”

The ASEAN civil society network said these sectors have historically been excluded in the ASEAN’s development targets as governments pursue pro-trade liberalization policies that are damaging to peoples’ livelihoods and jobs and further worsen inequalities.

“While we persist in our engagements with ASEAN, we are also building and developing an alternative Southeast Asian regional integration based on alternative practices on the ground among communities and social movements,” said Dr. Ed Tadem, co-convenor of the ACSC/APF Philippine National Organizing Committee. “We also want to ensure a social dimension to the ASEAN, create a Social ASEAN that fulfils the rights of people and guarantees social protection, decent work and essential services, especially healthcare, for all.”

“This framework challenges the neo-liberal model of development and links local practices in the ASEAN’s economic, political, and socio-cultural dimensions along the principles of cooperation, solidarity, mutual benefit, the commons, and joint development,” he added.

Paclarin further pointed out that “under the existing ASEAN integration, many remain vulnerable to greater risks, particularly women migrant workers who are mostly in low-skilled sectors and in the informal economy.”

Paclarin said the ASEAN integration has failed to recognize the social cost of migration, particularly the impact on families and children left behind. She stressed the urgent need for the ASEAN to adopt the instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of All Migrant Workers immediately to protect the workers and their families.

On the second day of the ASCS/APF at the UP Diliman campus, over 1000 delegates gathered to discuss in plenary and workshop groups critical issues concerning the ASEAN, such as pursuing a social dimension in regional integration towards a life of dignity for all, impact of corporate greed and power, human rights and access to justice, and labor mobility and mixed migration.

The conference will continue until November 14 as participating people’s organizations, social movements and NGOs, and academics from the ten (10) ASEAN countries plus East Timor substantially tackle issues and firm up unities in their continued engagements with the ASEAN.

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[Statement] APEC/ASEAN: Prioritize Rohingya Crisis Leaders Should Also Address Deteriorating Situations in Vietnam, Philippines -HRW

APEC/ASEAN: Prioritize Rohingya Crisis
Leaders Should Also Address Deteriorating Situations in Vietnam, Philippines

(New York, November 9, 2017) – World leaders meeting for summits in Asia on November 10-14, 2017, should address Burma’s Rohingya crisis and the deteriorating human rights situations in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said today.

Heads of government from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), including the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia, and Mexico, will be meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, on November 10. Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be meeting in Manila, Philippines, on November 12, along with associated ASEAN side-summits with the US, European Union, Japan, and South Korea, among others. Most of these leaders will then attend the annual East Asia Summit in Angeles, north of Manila, on November 13-14.

Since August 25, the Burmese military has carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State. Security forces have committed massacres, rape, looting, and mass burnings of homes and property, causing the flight of more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh. Human Rights Watch has determined that the atrocities amount to crimes against humanity. The campaign has led several countries to suspend military engagement with Burma and reimpose targeted sanctions and travel restrictions on high-level military leaders. Tougher measures are needed to press Burma to end the abuses, acknowledge rampant rights violations, ensure the safety of the internally displaced, and give access to independent fact-finders.

“The Rohingya crisis is among the worst human rights catastrophes in Asia in years and demands concerted global action,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “World leaders shouldn’t return home from these summits without agreeing to targeted sanctions to pressure Burma to end its abuses and allow in independent observers and aid groups.”

The United Nations Security Council should impose an arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions and travel bans on military officials implicated in atrocities, Human Rights Watch said. While the Security Council has not passed a resolution condemning the abuses, on November 6 it issued a Presidential Statement expressing concerns about the violence and calling on Burma to cooperate with UN bodies responsible for investigating the abuses. The Security Council should now take more meaningful action, but in the meantime concerned governments, especially those in Asia, can take coordinated bilateral or multilateral actions to impose targeted sanctions and travel bans.

Leaders at the Asia summits should jointly call on the Burmese government to allow access to northern Rakhine State by the UN fact-finding mission created by the Human Rights Council in 2016, as well as other UN human rights and humanitarian staff. UN Secretary-General António Guterres will be attending parts of the ASEAN and related summits in the Philippines, and UN General Assembly members are currently debating a resolution on Burma to be adopted later this year.

Leaders gathering in Asia should also be discussing the creation of judicial mechanisms to hold perpetrators of abuses in Burma accountable, including via the General Assembly and Human Rights Council. The Security Council should refer the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said.

“The International Criminal Court was created precisely to deal with crimes against humanity like those being committed in Burma,” Adams said. “Members of the Security Council attending the Asia summits should be discussing referring the situation in Burma to The Hague.”

The plight of displaced Rohingya should also be addressed at the Asia summits, Human Rights Watch said. Leaders should be clear that their governments will oppose plans for displaced Rohingya that do not meet core international standards prohibiting forced returns, or returns that would result in further abuses. A discussion of the key issues can be found in Human Rights Watch’s “Ten Principles for Protecting Refugees and Internally Displaced People Arising from Burma’s Rohingya Crisis.”

During the APEC summit in Vietnam on November 10, visiting leaders should raise concerns about Vietnam’s escalating crackdown on dissidents and human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch recently compiled a list of 105 political prisoners in Vietnam, highlighting 15 cases in a campaign for their release. Dozens of other dissidents remain in arbitrary detention, awaiting trial.

“Vietnam’s abusive one-party state is hosting a major summit while more than a hundred dissidents are languishing in prison,” Adams said. “Visiting leaders concerned about human rights need to call on the Vietnam government to release these prisoners and stop prosecuting peaceful dissent.”

Prior to the summit, Vietnamese authorities have placed other activists under house arrest or summoned them for questioning, according to reports from local human rights advocates.

Under Vietnam’s criminal law, criticizing the government or Vietnamese Communist Party can be treated as a national security threat. The government does not allow independent political parties, labor unions, or human rights organizations. Approval is required for any public gathering and permission is never granted for meetings, marches, or protests that are political or criticize the government or party. Religious groups in Vietnam can only operate under government oversight. Authorities regularly monitor, harass, and sometimes use violence to break up religious groups that operate outside of official control.

In recent years, Vietnamese authorities have also been using new means to curb criticism and political activism, including physical and psychological harassment by plainclothes thugs, heavy police surveillance, extrajudicial house arrest, and pressure on employers, landlords, and family members of activists. Restriction on freedom of movement is used to prevent bloggers and activists from participating in public events or attending trials of dissidents. Outright physical assaults against dissidents continue to occur frequently.

Pressing Vietnam on human rights could help bring attention to other governments with poor rights records attending APEC, such as China and Russia.

“Why should it be a crime to criticize a government? That’s a question that ought to be asked of APEC’s Vietnamese hosts,” Adams said. “But it’s a question that will make other visiting leaders uncomfortable as well.”

Leaders attending the ASEAN meetings and associated summits from November 12-14 will have an opportunity to raise concerns about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs,” a campaign of extrajudicial killings targeting drug dealers and users, whose victims are predominantly the urban poor, including children. The anti-drug campaign has also seriously harmed free speech and political space in the Philippines. The government in February detained an important critic of the “drug war,” Senator Leila de Lima, on spurious and politically motivated charges. President Duterte has repeatedly threatened human rights advocates and lawyers, and warned that he will impose martial law nationwide.

“Surely someone from among the 20 world leaders at these summits can confront Duterte about his horrific and unprecedented ‘drug war’ killings,” Adams said. “Widespread summary executions of drug suspects are not just illegal, they are ineffectual and cruel.”

Counter-narcotics policies and addiction treatments in many countries around the world, including Canada and in the EU, have moved toward public health approaches emphasizing voluntary and community-based treatment. In the US, the federal government’s response to the opioid crisis has begun to emphasize drug dependence treatment over enforcement. President Donald Trump recently declared a public health emergency with respect to the opioid crisis, although his administration has not yet taken adequate action to implement a more public health oriented approach.

Leaders at the ASEAN summits should press Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to drop his government’s baseless legal attacks on the main opposition party, and demand the release of opposition politicians jailed on trumped-up charges, Human Rights Watch said.

Hun Sen has been in power for almost 33 years, making him the longest-serving head of government in Asia and nearly the longest-serving government leader in the world. His ruling party, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), has long dominated Cambodia’s political system as the CPP-controlled police, army, and courts have used bogus legal charges, threats, bribes, and outright violence to maintain political control.

In recent months, the CPP has forced the closure of an important newspaper, stopped broadcasts of independent radio, and harassed human rights organizations. The government appears intent on eliminating the primary political opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Only three months after the June commune elections in which the CNRP won 43 percent of seats, the government arrested one of CNRP’s leaders, Kem Sokha, on spurious charges of treason. The party’s former president, Sam Rainsy, remains in exile due to an earlier baseless case against him. Hun Sen has also threatened other CNRP legislators with prosecution. On November 16, Cambodia’s CPP-controlled Supreme Court is expected to rule on a politically motivated case whether to permanently dissolve the CNRP.

“As ASEAN meets, democracy is failing in Cambodia,” Adams said. “Cambodia’s friends should denounce Hun Sen’s efforts to reinstate one-party rule and demand that he drop the bogus legal cases against the political opposition and its leaders.”

Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha led the May 2014 military coup ousting Thailand’s democratically elected government. General Prayut’s junta rules Thailand with impunity, having banned political activity and peaceful assembly and arbitrarily detained thousands of people for criticizing the government, military, or monarchy, even for parodies and satire. More than 1,400 civilians await trial in military courts. Lese majeste (insulting the monarchy), sedition, and other charges are routinely used to suppress free speech and threaten dissidents.

The military junta’s promises to restore civilian democratic rule have been broken repeatedly, with proposed timelines and dates passing without progress. Even if an election date is set, without substantial reforms the process is unlikely to result in free and fair elections, Human Rights Watch said. Under an August 2016 constitution adopted by a deeply flawed referendum, the junta would still maintain control, with a junta-appointed Senate serving as the largest political force in parliament and having a direct role in selecting the prime minister.

“Thailand was once one of Asia’s leading democracies, but now it is stagnating under military rule,” Adams said. “Thailand’s allies should use the Asia summits to insist that improved relations depend on the government abandoning ‘managed democracy’ and restoring civilian democratic rule and political freedoms.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Asia, please visit:


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[Off the shelf] FES’s Study on Women Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Economic Community -MFA

FES’s Study on Women Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Economic Community -MFA

Migrant Forum in Asia’s FES’s study on “Women Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Economic Community”. The study was done in partnership with UN, ASEAN Secretariat, the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and with the support of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). To download the study, please click on the following link:


The study examined the intra-ASEAN migrant women’s labour mobility trends, access to and outcomes in labour markets, the contribution to ASEAN economies and high-growth sectors, and the challenges of social and economic inclusion.

The study revealed the increasing numbers of women among migrant workers as a constant trend in ASEAN which shows the significance of women’s economic role and contribution to ASEAN economies. However, these migrant women are found in low-skilled professions which represent a significant proportion of majority of migrant workers workforce in the region which raises questions about gender inequalities as women suffer from poor working conditions.

The study shows the benefits of progressive migration policies with a gender perspective on national and regional level. In the context of the ASEAN Economic Community, the study calls on governments to expand the focus to service sectors that are high employees of migrant women and to develop mechanisms for mutual recognition and regulation of labour in law wage/low skills.

The report also reviews the current migrant governance frameworks at national and regional level, providing actionable evidence-based policy recommendations to benefit from women’s labour mobility, provide fair and equitable migration opportunities for women, and enhance regional social and economic development.

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[Press Conference] CSOs to ASEAN: inclusion, not exclusion in social protection planning, design and implementation

CSOs to ASEAN: inclusion, not exclusion in social protection planning, design and implementation

“Social Protection for All!”

Representatives of Civil Society Organizations from various Southeast Asian countries accompanied by a contingent from urban poor communities in Manila walked to the venue of the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection at Sofitel Hotel on 16 August 2017 to handover their statement containing their recommendations and demands concerning social protection measures even as they decry the limited space given to CSOs in the ASEAN process.

Members of DIGNIDAD and the Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP) that marched toward the venue of the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection, lamented that the ASEAN Conference on Social Protection on 15-17 August 2017 only invited 5 CSOs, and only as observers who cannot speak from the floor. Among these CSOs are the Network for Transformative Social Protection, Coalition of Services of the Elderly and the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, thus they agreed to hold the CSO consultation-workshop to bring together other voices from various people’s organizations, sectors in the region and put these forward at the Conference through the official Conference delegates.

The “CSO Statement to the ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection” points out that while the ASEAN Heads of States made a historic act in 2013 by issuing the “ASEAN Declaration on Social Protection” and recognizing for the first time that social protection is a right, there is virtually no mechanism for CSO engagement in crafting social protection measures.

The group, comprising of 30 representatives of civil society, trade unions and people’s organizations from Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and from other regional formations, came together the day before to unite on a set demands to be presented to the ASEAN conference on August 16 and 17 through the statement to be circulated among the conference delegates.

“The ASEAN Declaration on Social Protection deserves to be implemented and budgeted,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo, co-convener of NTSP and Dignidad. She noted that as of the present “there are no clear accountabilities, resource allocations and participatory mechanisms that would ensure each ASEAN state undertakes or improves social protection measures. Due to the ASEAN principle of non-interference, each government is effectively left on its own to operationalize ASEAN’s declared social protection aspirations.”

The CSOs highlighted in their statement to ASEAN the current realities in the region that emphasizes the urgency for social protection. “Nearly sixty per cent (60%) of the workforce in Asia are in the informal economy, enduring precarious working and living conditions. Most of these workers are female who are compelled into this work due to discrimination in the formal economy. On the other hand, workers in the formal sector receive measly wages under unacceptable working environments while being deprived of labor rights such as security of tenure and the right to organize. Discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, age, race, among others, are still rampant. Migrant workers suffer these same sordid realities with the added burden of being unable to access even the limited social protection programs available both in their countries of origin and destination.”

They also pointed out that “the harsh impact of climate change on people’s livelihoods, food and shelter worsen the situation.”

“We call for an expansion in the ASEAN framework on social protection to ensure the progressive realization of a life of dignity for all and which embraces the principles of human rights and social justice,” said Emily Beridico, Executive Director of the Coalition of Services of the Elderly.

“Social protection must move from being targeted to the most vulnerable in the form of a social safety net to being ultimately universal, covering each individual, as a matter of human right to a life of dignity,” added Jelen Paclarin, Executive Director of Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau and chair of the Regional Steering Committee of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2017 (ACSC/APF2017).

The statement outlines various specific recommendations that address the rights of everyone as well as demands of the various sectors such as labor, women, LGBTQI, migrant workers, the elderly, persons with disabilities, farmers and fisherfolk.

Undersecretary Flor Villar of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) met the contingent of urban poor and other CSOs outside Sofitel Hotel to receive the statement. She later signed the statement at the premises of the Conference venue. She explained that she will share it with other delegates of the conference from other countries. She also informed the groups that the expected outputs of the conference is just to identify a set of proposed social protection indicators in ASEAN and proposed targets for the implementation of the Regional Framework and Action Plan. The body that will tackle recommendations is the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development in September this year.

The Regional CSO consultation-workshop was organized by the Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP), Buhay na may Dignidad para sa Lahat (DIGNIDAD), Coalition of Services of the Elderly-HelpAge, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, SENTRO and the Working Group on Social ASEAN. Among the national and regional organizations that took part in it were ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC), Center for Migrant Advocay, HomeNet Southeast Asia (Thailand), TaskForce on ASEAN Migrant Workers, Social Action Center (Cambodia), Confederation of Indonesian People’s Movement (KPRI) (Indonesia), Tuong Lai Center (Vietnam), PhilRights, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Associated Labor Union (Philippines), Cambodian Grassroots Cross-Sector Network, Center for Migrant Advocacy, Civika Asian Development Academy, Empower: Youth for Agricultural Development, Galang Philippines, Think Centre (Singapore), WomanHealth Philippines, and Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau. Most of these organizations are also in the ACSC/APF2017.

c/o 85-B Masikap Street Extension, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City | Tel. 7097833/44

Press Release
August 17, 2017
Contact: Maris dela Cruz @ 09173153828

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[Statement] Address the missing link in ASEAN integration. Realize people’s agenda for a Social ASEAN.

Statement of Civil Society, Trade Unions, Migrants, and Parliamentarians in Southeast Asia
To the 22nd Senior Officials Meeting of the ASCC
and the 17th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council Meeting

6 March 2017

Address the missing link in ASEAN integration.
Realize people’s agenda for a Social ASEAN.

On 6-9 March 2017, ASEAN Senior Officials and Ministers will tackle socio-cultural and environmental concerns in the region at the 22nd Senior Officials Meeting of the ASCC and at the 17th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council Meeting. The latter will discuss preparations for and the declarations or statements for adoption by the Heads of States at the ASEAN Summit,with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” in April.

We – civil society organizations, trade unions, workers, migrants, marginalized sectors, and parliamentarians in Southeast Asia –  urge high officials and leaders in ASEAN to include in the discussions and declarations the perspectives of ordinary women, men, and vulnerable groups aspiring for a better quality of life – a life of dignity.

We call on the Senior Officials, Ministers, and Heads of States of ASEAN to make the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN truly meaningful by leaving a golden legacy to the peoples in Southeast Asia; make “people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN” a reality. Adopt the people’s agenda for a Social ASEAN.

Majority of the peoples in Southeast Asia have been suffering fromeconomic and social deprivation, insecurity, social exclusion and oppression as inequalities continue to widen. More than 65% of the workforce in the region are in precarious work – without permanent and decent jobs, access to social services and social protection, and without adequate incomethat could enable them a life with dignity.  Less than 30% of the population have social protection as government expenditure for social protection remains low. In Southeast Asia, an average of only 3% of GDP per country goes to social protectionand in 4 of the ASEAN countries it is below 2%.

While ASEAN has committed to also forming a socio-cultural community, the social dimension of integration remains sketchy. The economic integration isprioritized, for instance, over any social protection measure or benefit.

Integration efforts are taking place at a time when ASEAN member states are signing a slew of new free trade agreements especially mega-trade pacts like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between the ten member states of ASEAN and six states with which it has free trade agreements. RCEP would affect almost half of the world’s population.

The needs and rights of the people take a back seat to markets and profits under this regional integration that pursues neoliberal interests affirmed by free trade agreements –tilted towards serving big businesses and transnational corporations, and designed to liberalize our economies including public services and weaken government authority.
People’s rights and demands should stand above markets and profits. Market liberalization, deregulation and privatization have only led to the loss of traditional livelihoods and means of survival, and further exploitation of workers. They have also led to diminished public access to essential services and social security.

With the above conditions, the need to incorporate a social dimension in ASEAN’s integration process is urgent. It is imperative to integrate a social dimension that guarantees people’s needs and rights promoted, protected, and fulfilled in the regional integration process.  We propose the notion of a Social ASEAN – where sustainable jobs, worker’s rights, universal healthcare, education, water, energy, social security and affordable housing are integral components of the integration effort.  This will create opportunities for all.

Adopt the agenda for a sustainable Social ASEANthat reflects the aspirations and demands of the peoples in ASEAN. To achieve a sustainable Social ASEAN, the following structural issues be addressed and factored into the decision-making processes of ASEAN governments and non-state actors. This would require existing ASEAN Declarations with a social dimension be made binding on governments and the notion of non-interference set aside in the interests of the people.

a)    Democratic and participatory processes at national and regional levels;
b)    Gender equality and protection of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups (children and young people, older persons, persons with disability,LGBTIQ persons, migrant workers and their families);
c)    State duty to provide essential services, especially universal healthcare and lifelong learning opportunities for all;
d)    Social protection for all(universal living pension as well as health, education, housing, water, electricity, land, employment);
e)    Safe and affordable food and access to productive resources; and
f)    Ratification and implementation of ILO core labor standards.
Governments must be more inclusive, accountable, and willing to work in partnership with all their citizenstowards social justice, sustainable development, and a life of dignity.

Working Group on Social ASEAN
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC)
Migrant Forum Asia (MFA)
Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP) – Asia/Southeast Asia
Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)
Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN) – Malaysia
Trade Union Rights Centre (TURC)
National organizations/formationsin Southeast Asia
Buhay na may Dignidad para sa Lahat (DIGNIDAD) Alliance – Philippines
WomanHealth  Philippines
Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) – Philippines
Associated Labor Unions-TUCP – Philippines
Aksyon sa Kahandaan sa Kalamidad -National Coalition – Philippines
Alyansa Agrikultura, Centro Saka, Inc. – Philippines
Development Action for Women Network (DAWN)– Philippines
Empower – Philippines
Federation of Free Workers (FFW) – Philippines
Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF)
Keep Hope Alive – Philippines
Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN) – Philippines
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) – Philippines
Manggagawang Kababaihang Mithi ay Paglaya (MAKALAYA) – Philippines
National Movement for Food Sovereignty (NMFS) – Philippines
National Union of Building and Construction Workers (NUBCW) – Philippines
Partnership for Clean Air (PCA) Inc.  – Philippines
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)– Philippines
Philippines for Natural Farming, Inc. (PNFI)
Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW)
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)- PSI – Philippines
Reporma Isusulong ng Survivors Kalamidad -Laguna Lakes – Philippines
Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. – Philippines
Sustainability and Participation through Education and Lifelong Learning (SPELL) – Philippines
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc. (WLB) – Philippines
World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI) – Philippines
ZAMBAL KA – Philippines
Cambodian Grassroots Cross-Sector Network (CGCN)
CamASEAN Youth’s Future (CamASEAN) – Cambodia
Cambodian Independent Civil-Servant Association (CICA)
Independent Farmers Association for Community Development (IFACD) – Cambodia
Farmers for Farmers Network (FFF) – Cambodia
Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) – Cambodia
Social Action for Change (SAC) – Cambodia
Aspek -Indonesia
FSPMI (Federation of Metal Workers)- Indonesia
Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ)
INISIATIF- Indonesia
Jamkes Watch (Social Security Healtcare & Workers)- Indonesia
Institut Pemberdayaan Perempuan-Institute for Women Empowerment(IWE) – Indonesia
Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia (KPRI) – Indonesia
Konfederasi Serikat Nasional/National Union Confederation ( KSN) – Indonesia
Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane/Sedane Labour Resource Center (LIPS)– Indonesia
Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Masyarakat/Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) –
Forum Islam Progresif/Progressive Islam Forum – Indonesia
Local Initiative for OSH Network (LION ) – Indonesia
Migrant Care – Indonesia
Sarekat Hijau Indonesia/Indonesian Green Union (SHI) – Indonesia
Serikat Mahasiswa Progresif Universitas Indonesia/Progressive Student Union (SEMAR UI) –Indonesia
Serikat Pekerja Percetakan Penerbitan dan Media Informasi Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia (SP PPMI SPS)– Indonesia
Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights)– Indonesia
SPN (Nasional Trade Union) -Indonesia
Working Peoples Party (PRP) – Indonesia
Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia/ Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)– Indonesia
National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) – Malaysia
Action Aid – Myanmar
Phan Tee Eain (Creative Home) – Myanmar
Yangon Watch – Myanmar
Think Centre  – Singapore
HomeNet Thailand
Vietnam Peace & Development Foundation
Regional and other National Organizations in Asia
ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF)
ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF)
HomeNet Southeast Asia
Asian Roundtable on Social Protection
Asia Network on the Right to Social Protection (ANRSP)
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (NMFS)
Building and Wood Workers International  – Asia Pacific Region (BWI-AP)
Disabled Peoples’ International Asia Pacific (DPIAP)
Focus on the Global South
HelpAge International
NGO Forum on ADB
Bangladesh Krishok Foundation
Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth – Sri Lanka
Christian Development Alternative (CDA) – Bangladesh
Globalization Monitor – Hong Kong
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
Mrinal Gore Interactive Centre – India
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee
Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR) – India
Individuals and other International networks
Achin Vanaik, retired professor of “International Relations and global Politics,”University of Delhi
Anuradha Chenoy, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University – India
Birgit Daiber, CommonGoodNetwork
Cora Fabros, Co-Vice President of International Peace Bureau
Girlie E. Amarillo, DSD, Alay kay Inay Foundation, Inc.
Francois Houtart, professor-National Institute of Higher Studies of Quito (Ecuador)
Kamal Mitra Chenoy, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University – India
Samir Amin, Chair – World Social Forum
Subodh R Pyakurel, Chairperson, INSEC (Informal Sector Service Center) – Nepal
Upendranadh Choragudi,  Governance Lead,  Actionaid Myanmar
William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Defender and Freelance Journalist – UK
Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF)
Global Social Justice
Institute for Globalization studies and social movements (IGSO) – Moscow
World Social Forum

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[Announcement] Call for Applications – FORUM-ASIA Regional Training of Trainers on the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms 2016

Call for Applications – FORUM-ASIA Regional Training of Trainers on the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms 2016

ForumAsia LogoThe Regional Training of Trainers on the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms is a training initiated by FORUM-ASIA since 2010. The training was designed as a tool to impart and to strengthen skills and knowledge of civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights defenders (HRDs) in Southeast Asia region about the existing ASEAN human rights mechanism, particularly the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

Six years after the establishment of the AICHR (2009) and the ACWC (2010), knowledge and skills about the use of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms remain limited among CSOs and HRDs. The limited mandates for addressing human rights cases maybe one of the reasons for CSOs’ hesitation to use these mechanisms. However, the lack of knowledge and skills may also be the reason that dissuades CSOs and HRDs to engage with the ASEAN human rights mechanisms. FORUM-ASIA views that CSOs participation in these mechanisms is important both to benefit for whatever limited protection they have to offer and also to reassure and strengthen the work of these human rights bodies. To this end, FORUM-ASIA facilitates capacity building for CSOs and HRDs by conducting a regional training of trainers on annual basis.

The Regional Training of Trainers on the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms 2016 (ASEAN HR ToT 2016) aims to produce a pool of trainers who would, following the ToT, conduct trainings in ASEAN countries among CSOs and their networks. The new batch of trainers will add to the efforts being made by the alumni of the previous trainings, who are now providing training on human rights and ASEAN human rights mechanisms in the ASEAN region.

Prominent trainers on ASEAN and human rights issues will facilitate the ToT. AICHR and ACWC commissioners, ASEAN diplomats and experts in diverse fields of human rights will also be invited to facilitate specific sessions. Jakarta has been chosen as the venue since the training includes a study visit to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.


FORUM-ASIA will provide scholarships for CSOs and HRDs from ASEAN countries on the basis of following criteria:

1)     At least 2 years of experience of work with CSOs in the ASEAN region;

2)     Some experience of prior engagement with the ASEAN human rights mechanisms, ASEAN institutions, and/or CSO advocacy on ASEAN;

3)     Strong commitment to conduct capacity development activities for national and local CSOs;

Selection of participants will take into consideration gender equality and diversity. Participants with special needs (person with disability) will be given priority.

The training will be conducted in English and no translation support will be provided. The organizer does not require a formal English proficiency test, but a proof of English proficiency will be preferable.

The scholarship covers: travel cost from home country to Jakarta, accommodation and meals during the training


Interested candidates are required to fill out the application form (annex 1) and send the application to asean@forum-asia.org (Please put subject email as: Application ASEAN HR TOT 2016 – your name). Completed application must be received by 31 October 2016.


All applications will be acknowledged by email. Incomplete applications may result in a low possibility of acceptance. Gender balance, participants with special needs (person with disability), and diversity of sectors/ issues will be duly taken into account when selecting candidates. Applicants will be informed of their final selection at the latest by 5 November 2016.

For more details about the training program and requirement please see the brochure and application form attached.

For any query, please contact:  asean@forum-asia.org

Call for Applications – FORUM-ASIA Regional Training of Trainers on the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms 2016 (Jakarta, Indonesia, 26-30 November 2016)

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[Off the shelf] Breaking the Silence and Unlocking Barriers for Human Rights Protection in ASEAN: A report on the performance of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms in 2015

Breaking the Silence and Unlocking Barriers for Human Rights Protection in ASEAN: A report on the performance of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanisms in 2015

ForumAsia Logo‘Breaking the Silence and Unlocking Barriers for Human Rights Protection in ASEAN’ is the sixth annual review of the performance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) human rights mechanisms produced by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and the Solidarity for ASEAN People’s Advocacies – Task Force on ASEAN and Human Rights (SAPA TFAHR).

This report reviews both the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), on how they have implemented activities in relation to their mandates, their engagement with civil society organisations (CSOs), achievements and shortcomings. It shares general expectations from CSOs and other stakeholders in their engagement with the AICHR and the ACWC. The report concludes with key findings of the assessment and proposes recommendations for improvement to the AICHR, the ACWC and the ASEAN overall.

Read full article @www.forum-asia.org

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[Press Release] The Role of Civil Society and ASEAN Bodies in Achieving a People-centered ASEAN -ACSC/APF 2016

The Role of Civil Society and ASEAN Bodies in Achieving a People-centered ASEAN

cropped-APF-2016-logoDili, Timor-Leste – 05-08-2016- The final day of the ACSC/APF 2016 examined the progress and efficacy of ASEAN and its mechanisms in achieving a people-centered community.

H.E. Mr. Xanana Gusmao, Minister of Strategic Investment in Timor-Leste, engaging participants in an open dialogue, commented on the historical importance of ASEAN as a people’s movement, stating: “When Timor-Leste was suffering and the rest of the world had forsaken it, international civil society, ASEAN civil society, stood with us.”

Minister Gusmao also discussed the ongoing need for civil society to monitor and restrain the actions of the state, keeping the state accountable. To this end, he said, “We must celebrate the success of ASEAN…but we must have a growing sense of solidarity and plan of action for the future.”

Minister Gusmao concluded his address with a request for solidarity from ASEAN civil society, once again, in checking the actions of government. “I ask of you one last thing. The Timorlese have a final struggle to achieve our sovereignty. Determining our maritime boundaries is a matter of sovereignty. It is the final step in our struggle. We fought for sovereignty over our land, and now we are fighting for sovereignty over our seas.”

In the second session of the day, representatives from various ASEAN bodies examined the effectiveness of ASEAN bodies in achieving a people-centered approach, and the way forward towards this vision.

To this end, Mr. Sinapan Samydorai of AFML emphasised the need to finalise the Draft ASEAN Instrument on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, in order to acknowledge the critical role played by migrant workers in ASEAN economies, and to achieve an inclusive ASEAN community.

Professor Aurora Javate, ACWC Philippines Representative, highlighted the implementation of commitments under CEDAW and CRC as a priority of ACWC, stating that, “Without a gender-
perspective, and people-centered framework, a caring and sharing ASEAN community is
impossible to achieve.”

Edmund Bon, the Malaysia representative to AICHR, shared an aspirational view of AICHR in
adopting a people-centered approach that upholds human rights, saying, “ AICHR must be a
body that sets standards. It must be a charter body, in that it interprets the ASEAN Human
Rights Declaration and talks about its scope and applicability, and it must be a body that can issue statements on areas of concern.”

As emphasised by Minister Gusmao and the representatives of the various ASEAN human rights
mechanisms, the way forward lies with civil society’s continued activism and solidarity, as well as their diligence in pressuring and shaping the existing ASEAN bodies towards a truly inclusive and people-centered ASEAN.

The ACSC/APF 2016 Conference is taking place on 02-05 August 2016, at the Dili Convention
Center in Timor-Leste. The full programme of the ACSC/APF 2016 can be viewed at

For more detailed information, please contact AFP’s Media Representatives:
1. Alberico da Costa Junior, alberico@tlmdc.org, Mobile:77254078
2. Berta, ino_moniz@yahoo.com.au, Mobile:
3. Franciscoda Silva Gari, Email:francisco@tlmdc.org, Mobile: 77235163
4. Fransiskus XS, Email: Fransiskus.xs@alolafoundation.org, Mobile: 78000002
5. Zevonia Vieira, Email: voniavieira@yahoo.com, Mobile : 78562929
Website :www.aseanpeople.org – Facebook :ASEANPeoplesForum – Twitter :@AseanPF
Hashtag : #AseanPF #Asean #Aseanpeople #APF2016 #timorleste

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[Press Release] US/ASEAN: Make Rights Central to Summit Obama Should Press Leaders to End Repression and Abuses -HRW

US/ASEAN: Make Rights Central to Summit
Obama Should Press Leaders to End Repression and Abuses

200px-Hrw_logo.svg(Washington, DC, January 19, 2015) – United States President Barack Obama should ensure that human rights are a central focus in the upcoming summit of Southeast Asian leaders in the US, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Obama. Obama is scheduled to host the leaders of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on February 15-16, 2016, at the Sunnylands estate in California.

“ASEAN’s many authoritarian leaders include people implicated in grievous human rights abuses, war crimes, and coups d’etat that would make them ineligible for US visas if they weren’t heads of government,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The summit risks empowering and even emboldening ASEAN’s abusive leaders unless President Obama emphasizes human rights issues and invites the participation of civil society groups.”

Human Rights Watch urged Obama to hold sessions around the summit in which governments hear directly from leaders of civil society, human rights, and environmental groups, as occurred during the August 2014 US-Africa Summit in Washington, DC.

Obama should also communicate to ASEAN governments that they should, ahead of the summit, release significant numbers of political prisoners and drop charges against those facing politically motivated prosecutions – or expect those issues to be raised publicly at the summit.

One of the ASEAN leaders, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, has ruled over Cambodia for more than 30 years, using violence, intimidation, and politically motivated arrests and prosecutions against all perceived opponents, while allowing high-level corruption and cronyism to flourish. He refused to step down after losing an election in 1993, and subsequently carried out a coup in 1997. He is also implicated in possible crimes against humanity committed in the mid-1970s in eastern Cambodia when he was a commander in the Khmer Rouge. The latest election in 2013 was fundamentally flawed and the opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, is now living in exile to avoid arrest in politically motivated cases. Because of his dismal human rights record, it has long been US policy not to offer an official invitation to visit the US to Hun Sen.

Other ASEAN leaders expected to attend include four unelected heads of government. Thailand’s Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 military coup, has presided over a relentless crackdown on peaceful dissent and assembly. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam and President Choummaly Sayasone of Laos preside over one-party authoritarian states that deny basic freedoms and use censorship, intimidation, and torture to maintain their party’s hold on power. The sultan of Brunei, Hassal Bolkiah, one of the world’s few remaining hereditary government leaders, has imposed a near complete ban on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.

The prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, implicated in a major corruption scandal, has engaged in a major crackdown on the political opposition, civil society groups, and the media, including imprisoning opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on trumped-up charges.

“President Obama shouldn’t be rewarding abusive leaders with the prestige of a summit in the US,” Sifton said. “Inviting to the US people who dismantle democracies or systematically repress their own people sends the wrong message to the world about the US government’s respect for basic rights and freedoms.”

Human rights issues especially relevant to ASEAN countries include the lack of free and fair elections; excessive restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly; unnecessary restrictions on civil society groups; abuses against human rights defenders and other activists; women’s rights; political use of courts; high-level corruption; lack of protections of refugees and asylum seekers; human trafficking; and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

“The US government’s diplomatic ‘rebalance’ to Asia could still bring positive change if human rights and democracy are raised to the same level as other US priorities in the region,” Sifton said. “Obama should make it publicly clear to ASEAN leaders that he plans to make human rights issues a central part of the summit.”

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[Statement] Protect all rights of all migrant workers! call to ASEAN to fulfill the promise for a truly people-centered ASEAN community! -OUTRIGHT


OutRight Action International, together with the undersigned organizations call on ASEAN leaders meeting in Malaysia for the 27th ASEAN Summit, to address the concerns of migrant worker particularly protecting LGTQ migrant workers from violence and discrimination.


ASEAN states have previously pledged in the 2007 ASEAN charter and the 2012 human rights declaration to protect all migrant workers and marginalized groups. Furthermore as signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ASEAN states have pledged to protect the right of everyone, everywhere.

When ASEAN governments launch the ASEAN Community and Post-2015 ASEAN Vision during the 27th ASEAN Summit in Malaysia, they will be committing to a ten year plan, until 2025, for a politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, and a truly people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEANi. This summit is an opportunity for them to reaffirm these principles and take concrete steps to protect this vulnerable group.

To ensure that ASEAN lives up to its stated goals, OutRight Action International and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups challenge the ASEAN Member-States to prioritize legislative reforms and to implement people-inclusive regional and national plans that address the issues of groups and sectors that fall between the cracks of policies, programs and services of government and of mainstream groups and sectors.
ASEAN governments have acknowledged the huge contributions of ASEAN migrant workersii to the national economies of ASEAN member states. Yet, because of disagreements between sending and receiving countries in ASEAN, there is:
• No agreement in the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW) on protection mechanisms for migrant workers, and
• No ASEAN standard on labor protections, which subjects migrant workers to different laws and regulations in each ASEAN country.

Without these protections, all migrant workers are vulnerable to human rights violations. Those at greatest risk are migrant workers who experience a variety of forms of discrimination on grounds of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or religion. They have little to no bargaining power. LGBT migrant workers are among the most vulnerable groups, because they are stigmatized. They face multiple forms of discrimination and abuse, which makes them one of the most crucial groups to protect within broader migrant worker communities.

Like other migrant workers, LGBT migrant workers primarily leave and seek work outside their country for economic reasons. Their remittances support their families and their economies back home. The ASEAN Post-2015 vision and plans of action must address the concerns of all ASEAN migrant workers, including ASEAN LGBT migrant workers.

The initial investigation of OutRight Action International showed that LGBT migrant workers experience high levels of abuse and discrimination because of who they are and are experiencing ill-treatment that has little to do with their work performance.

Generally speaking, LGBT migrant workers travel from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei to seek employment. Once there, they are vulnerable to being unfairly targeted because of laws in these countries that prohibit homosexuality, cross-dressing and gender non-conforming behaviours. In other words, LGBT migrant workers who look different are subject to mistreatment because they appear different.

OutRight Action International has learned that LGBT migrant workers are subjected to verbal abuse, humiliation, and even physical violence. Many have to suffer discrimination on a daily basis and are forced to remain silent. ASEAN leaders have not committed to labor protection standards and have no policies in place to prohibit discrimination and violence against migrant workers, including when this happens on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
LGBT people who migrate for employment reasons provide much needed services. ASEAN communities rely heavily on LGBT migrant workers, among others for domestic work, hairstyling, beauty salon services, construction work, plantation labor, cleaning, cooking and serving in food establishments.
NGOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) that are set up to assist migrant workers in sending countries do
not have the training to address the needs of LGBT migrant workers. This is the same scenario where LGBT migrant worker are not receiving help from their Embassies in the receiving country. They have no access to complaint mechanisms, and if they do manage to file a complaint, NGOs and CSOs that are supposed to assist migrant workers in that process are often not fully equipped to provide LGBT migrant workers with services and assistance they would provide to other migrant workers.

There is no psychosocial support and no counselling for LGBT issues, such as isolation and fear of being exposed, denigrated and harmed. Like other migrant workers, who experience discrimination and violence from their employers or in their places of work, LGBT migrant workers are reluctant to report violations for fear of retaliation, such as losing their jobs or not getting paid.

For instance, a lesbian domestic worker was verbally abused by her employer because she wore men’s clothing. Her employment ended up being terminated earlier than her contract stipulated. She had no recourse to challenge the violation. A gay manager of a fast food restaurant reported that being forced to constantly live in fear of his sexual orientation being discovered was so stressful that he could not renew his contract, although his job performance earned him a promotion. Three lesbians with masculine gender expression were routinely questioned about their appearance, even though their job performance was good. Of the three, only one was able to continue working, on the condition that she change her clothing to appear feminine. Forced gender conformity amounts to mental abuse and causes suffering. It prevents LGBT migrant workers the right to work and the right to freedom to express one’s self.

OutRight Action International calls on ASEAN leaders to:
1. Ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) standards on migrant workers and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.
2. Enact laws and bilateral agreements between sending and receiving countries to ensure the rights of migrant workers will be protected in both countries.
3. Ensure safe and accessible reporting procedures for LGBT migrant workers who experience violence and discrimination and ensure investigation of these complaints.
4. Include LGBT migrant worker issues and needs in the programs and services offered by sending and receiving countries, such as information provision related to LGBT issues, counselling, regulation of employment agencies, welfare centers, integration assistance, emergency shelter, legal and medical services.
5. Ensure that their Embassies in receiving countries are knowledgeable to the issues and respectful of the rights of LGBT persons, including that they will provide the same quality of service and assistance to LGBT migrant worker as to other migrant workers.
6. Provide state funding and resources for the training and implementation of LGBT sensitive services by government agencies, NGOs and CSOs that work with migrant workers and on migrant worker issues.
7. Prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
8. Improve working conditions for LGBT migrant workers by
• Amending and repealing discriminatory laws that are used to criminalize persons on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and
• Denounce public statements and media messages that vilify LGBT persons and incite prejudice, discrimination and violence.

i http://www.asean.org/news/asean-­‐secretariat-­‐news/item/asean-­‐community-­‐vision-­‐2025-­‐2
ii http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2015/01/22/money-­‐sent-­‐home-­‐migrant-­‐workers-­‐major-­‐economic-­‐boost-­‐developing-­‐nations#sthash.bMhNJ5He.dpuf

All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) – Malaysia
Arus Pelangi – Indonesia
ASEAN Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Caucus (ASC)
ASEAN Youth Forum
Asia – Africa Solidarity Indonesia
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM ASIA)
Association of Women Lawyers (AWL) – Malaysia
CamASEAN Youth’s Future (CamASEAN) – Cambodia
Colors Rainbow – Myanmar
Focus on Global South
FOCUS Philippines
Joint Action Group for Gender Equality
Justice for Sister – Malaysia
KAKAMMPI (Association of Overseas Filipino Workers and their Families) – Philippines
May Thida Aung (Ms.), PhD student, IHRP, Mahidol University – Thailand
North – South Initiative
Perak Women For Women (PWW) – Malaysia
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER) – Malaysia
Project SEVANA South-East Asia
Sayoni – Singapore
Sisters in Islam (SIS) – Malaysia
South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) – Malaysia
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) – Malaysia


Project Coordinator, Asia & Pacific Islands Region

OutRight Action International
80 Maiden Lane, Suite 1505, New York, NY 10038 USA
Fax: +1.212.430.6060 Twitter: @OutRightIntl YouTube: LGBTHumanRights
Website: ww.outrightinternational.org FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/outrightintl

Contact information in the Philippines:
Mobile: +63.917.557.0405 | Skype: gcristobal-iglhrc

Unfold your COURAGE everyday! Watch & download for free “COURAGE UNFOLDS”
a video of Asian LGBT activism and the Yogyakarta Principles
(Burmese, Khmer, Mongolian, Chinese subtitles) http://vimeo.com/22813403

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[Statement] A People-Centered ASEAN Community: Making It Happen -ASEAN PEOPLES FORUM 2015 (ACSC/APF2015)

The ASEAN PEOPLES FORUM 2015 (ACSC/APF2015) Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and the Malaysian National Organizing Committee (NOC) have successfully organised the ACSC/APF2015 Conference Engaging 27th ASEAN Summit . This is conference, attended by 150 CSOs from ASEAN, was held on the sidelines of the 27th ASEAN Summit happening now.

This conference comes just as ASEAN is about to launch the ASEAN 2025 Vision on 22nd Nov 2015 and for the CSOs, it is a symbolic moment of analysis of the 10-year engagement period of engaging with ASEAN governments as CSOs as ASEAN.

Below is the ACSC/APF 2015 Conference Outcome Statement, “A People-Centered ASEAN Community: Making It Happen” that was adopted by ASEAN CSOs on the 19th Nov 2015.

Thank you.

Kind Regards

Jerald Joseph



17 – 19 November 2015, Kuala Lumpur

1. While the focus in the region is on the upcoming 27th ASEAN Summit between the ASEAN heads of states and the global dialogue partners, representatives from ASEAN civil society have gathered again at the ACSC/APF 2015 Conference, titled “A People-Centered ASEAN Community: Making it Happen”, from 17 – 19 November 2015, to collectively deliberate and assess the impact of our 10 years of engagement with ASEAN.

2. This is a pivotal moment for the region with the ASEAN Community coming into being at the end of 2015, and with the adoption of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. ASEAN regionalism is focused on achieving political cohesiveness, economic integration, a socially responsible, people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEAN.

3. Civil society in ASEAN have repeatedly taken a stand that these processes need to be transformative and people-centred in the most meaningful, inclusive and representative manner in determining and shaping the aspiration and future of the region and its peoples.

4. The thematic concerns and recommendations raised in the ACSC/APF 2015 – CSO Statement (April 2015) on development justice; democratic processes, governance and fundamental human rights and freedoms; peace and security; and discrimination and inequality remain serious priorities for the region. An assessment of the last 6 months, post the submission of the ACSC/APF 2015 – CSO Statement (April 2015), demonstrates the continued silence of ASEAN in addressing the concerns and recommendations expressed in the CSO Statement. While globally ASEAN portrays itself as a cohesive regional bloc it remains indifferent to what it considers national prerogatives unless it has economic bearings.

5. We have in fact seen an escalation of human rights violations and lack of commitment of ASEAN to engage on these issues in a cohesive and meaningful manner. The deleterious consequences of the worst haze the region has experienced, situation of boat-people and the exemption of Rohingya and other ethnic minorities from exercising their rights to participate as voters and candidates in the recent electoral democratic process, well as the continued targeting and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders are some cases in point.

6. Given the apathetic and dismal response by ASEAN to the interventions and recommendations of the ASEAN civil society in the last 10 years of engagement, we are compelled to question the meaningfulness of the rhetoric on people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN. The impunity of recalcitrant ASEAN member states compound the escalation of violations and prevent the idea of regionalism as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter.

7. We, therefore, reaffirm our concerns and reiterate our preceding recommendations and call on ASEAN to escalate its responses to the interventions by the civil society.

8. In addition, the Conference also calls on ASEAN to address the following:

8.1 Strengthened engagement with civil society organisations

a. ASEAN to recognise civil society as key stakeholder in the standard setting, standard interpretation and implementation processes of ASEAN laws, policies and programmes;

b. ASEAN to critically reflect on and adopt institutional measures and mechanisms to engage with civil society, with mutual respect, in a manner that is meaningful, transparent, accessible and inclusive, and in accordance to international laws and standards, towards a people-centred ASEAN community;

c. ASEAN to recognise the diversity of the multiple Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and peoples’ organisations that is reflective of the issues and priorities of the region. Thus, all engagement and consultations shall be inclusive and representative across all nations and issues in ASEAN. Gender balance and diversity shall be a key consideration. Rigid accreditation procedures only serve to undermine participation;

d. ASEAN shall not invoke the principles of non-interference, respect for national sovereignty, and domestic particularities, and its selective interpretation in censoring issues that particular ASEAN member states deem unsuitable;

e. Access to information and relevant standard- setting documents shall be made available prior to and during consultations to ensure the most effective and meaningful dialogue rather than a tokenistic action.

8.2 Modalities for engagement between CSOs and ASEAN governments

a. Adopt consultative mechanisms that guarantee meaningful, representative and inclusive dialogue and systematic feedback with ASEAN member states both nationally and regionally, and is aimed at advancing peoples’ voices and advocacies;

b. The identification and selection criteria for any interface/dialogue shall be in adherence to principles of participation that includes self-selection on the basis of an open and transparent process;

c. Facilitate multi-stakeholders engagement, especially in context of economic integration, particularly in mitigating adverse consequences of trade liberalisation policies and free-trade agreements on the peoples of ASEAN;

d. The annual interface between civil society and heads of ASEAN member states during the ASEAN Summit should be an institutionalised practice and go beyond a symbolic gesture. It shall facilitate meaningful dialogue rather than monologues and have real impact on the decisions of the ASEAN leaders.

8.3 Enhanced role of ASEAN Secretariat and its institutions and organs

a. ASEAN, in accordance to the ASEAN Charter, to enable and enhance the role of the Secretariat in facilitating and working with civil society by establishing and institutionalising more effective mechanisms that are accessible to all peoples of ASEAN;

b. ASEAN Secretariat to facilitate effective communication and engagement of civil society with relevant bodies and organs in ASEAN;

c. ASEAN Secretariat, through the other ASEAN entities, including the ASEAN Foundation, to ensure effective information exchange and dissemination, through all accessible forms of tools and media;

d. ASEAN Secretariat to contribute to civil society capacity building initiatives in engaging the ASEAN;

e. Enhanced ASEAN Secretariat and its institutions and organs to mainstream human rights and provide meaningful and dedicated support;

f. Dedicated secretariat support to be established for the AICHR and ACWC, which shall include sufficient resources and accessible structures to facilitate receiving of information and complaints/communications on violations of human rights.

8.4 Mainstream human rights and fundamental freedoms

a. Human rights and fundamental freedoms to be mainstreamed in all pillars of ASEAN and across all entities and structures. It shall recognise primacy of universal principles of human rights and prioritise elimination of all forms of discrimination against all peoples in and from ASEAN, and promote realisation of substantive equality of all individuals and collective human rights of all peoples;

b. ASEAN human rights mechanisms and instruments must strictly adhere to international law and universal principles and standards on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

9. Finally, the ACSC/APF 2015 has decided that the ACSC/APF in 2016 will not be hosted in Lao PDR given the lack of readiness of the civil society organisations in the country and the absence of assurance of a safe space for open and constructive discussions of all issues of concerns in the region. This is an exceptional decision made on the basis of our guiding principles and modalities of engagement. It will be held in Timor Leste.

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