Tag Archives: Cambodia

[Press Release] Civil society launches #FreeThe5KH campaign in support of the imprisoned ADHOC staff and NEC official

Civil society launches #FreeThe5KH campaign in support of the imprisoned ADHOC staff and NEC official

Infographic _Free the 5_ENGWe, the undersigned civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations, launch today – 8 August 2016 – the #FreeThe5KH campaign in support of the five human rights defenders, who are currently in pre-trial detention and under judicial investigation for allegations of bribery.  The five face charges in regard to providing advice and legitimate reimbursement of food and transport costs to the woman alleged to have had an extra-marital relationship with the deputy opposition leader, Kem Sokha. The charges have all the hallmarks of being politically motivated, amounting to legal harassment. The five rights defenders have now spent over 100 days in prison (102 days as of today).

As part of the campaign, we call on all concerned citizens to send messages of solidarity to the five rights defenders via postcards, which we will collect and deliver to the detainees until they are released. In addition, to raise awareness of their continued detention we will release periodically a series of infographics on our Facebook page and Twitter with the hashtag #FreeThe5KH. This campaign will complement already existing advocacy efforts taken on a local, regional and international level. To find out more about the campaign and how to get involved, please visit http://www.freethe5kh.net.

The five human rights defenders – four senior staff members from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Ny Sokha, Mr. Yi Soksan, Mr. Nay Vanda, and Ms. Lim Mony, and deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee (and former ADHOC staff member) Mr. Ny Chakrya – were detained on 28 April 2016. On 2 May, the four ADHOC staff were charged with bribing a witness, and Mr. Ny Chakrya was charged as an accomplice to the same crime. United Nations (UN) staffer Mr. Soen Sally was also charged as an accomplice; however, he remains free due to his immunity as a UN official. That same day, Mr. Ny Chakrya was transferred to Police Judiciare and the four ADHOC staff were transferred to Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison. The Appeal Court denied the detainees bail on 13 June. A final appeal against the bail decisions is pending before the Supreme Court.

The #FreeThe5KH campaign aims to garner support for the five detained human rights defenders, to remind them that the public has not forgotten about their cause and to help keep their morale high while they remain in detention.

This joint press release is endorsed by:

1.     ActionAid Cambodia

2.     Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)

3.     Amnesty International

4.     Asia Democracy Network (ADN)

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

6.     ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)

7.     Bandanh Chaktomuk Community

8.     Boat People SOS

9.     Burma Partnership

10.  Boeung Kak Community

11.  Boeung Trabek Community

12.  Borei Keila Community

13.  CamASEAN Youth’s Future

14.  Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA)

15.  Cambodia Volunteers for Society (CVS)

16.  Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)

17.  Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC)

18.  Cambodian Women’s Development Agency (CWDA)

19.  Cambodian Youth Network (CYN)

20.  Cambodian Independent Teacher Association (CITA)

21.  Civil Rights Defenders

22.  Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability (CISA)

23.  Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC)

24.  Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)

25.  Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)

26.  Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)

27.  Equitable Cambodia (EC)

28.  Former Boeung Kak Women Network Community

29.  Front Line Defenders

30.  Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)

31.  Heinrich Böll Stiftung/Foundation

32.  Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)

33.  Human Rights Watch

34.  Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)

35.  Indigenous Youth at Prome Commune, Preah Vihear Province

36.  Indradevi Association

37.  International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

38.  Kuoy Ethnic Community at Prame Commune, Preah Vihear Province

39.  Land Conflict Community, Krous Village, Battambang Province

40.  Land Conflict Community, Skun Village, Siem Reap Province

41.  Land Community, Prek Chik Village, Koh Kong Province

42.  Land Community, Village I, Sangkat III, Preah Sihanouk Province

43.  Lor Peang Community, Kampong Chhnang Province

44.  Phnom Bat Community

45.  Ponlok Khmer

46.  Railway Station, Tuol Sangkae A Community

47.  SOS International Airport Community

48.  Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

49.  Star Kampuchea

50.  Strey Khmer Organization

51.   Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA

52.  World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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[International] Australia/Cambodia: Deal Puts Refugees at Risk -HRW

Australia/Cambodia: Deal Puts Refugees at Risk
Phnom Penh Has Poor Record on Refugee Protection, Basic Rights

A new refugee agreement between Australia and Cambodia does not meet Australia’s commitment to send refugees to a “safe third country,” and will undermine refugee protection in the region, Human Rights Watch said today. A Cambodian government press release states that the Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the settlement of refugees in Cambodia with the Cambodian interior minister, Sar Kheng, in Phnom Penh on September 26, 2014.

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Australia and Cambodia have not released the terms of the agreement. However, Morrison has previously said that up to 1,000 asylum seekers sent by Australia to Nauru, where they have been recognized as refugees, may be transferred to Cambodia on a “voluntary basis.” Although Cambodia is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has failed to protect refugees and asylum seekers, returning them to countries where they faced persecution.

“Australia’s deal with Cambodia will send people to a country that has a terrible record for protecting refugees and is mired in serious human rights abuses,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “Australia should have examined these refugee claims itself instead of diverting asylum seekers to Nauru, but at least it should take those found to be refugees instead of shipping them off to Cambodia. Despite Canberra’s claims, the reality is Cambodia is both unsafe and ill-equipped to handle large numbers of refugees who will be given one-way tickets to Phnom Penh.”

Since September 2012, Australia has been sending asylum seekers who arrive by boat to Nauru and Papua New Guinea to be screened there for refugee status. Under the terms of an agreement with Nauru, Australia is committed to helping settle refugees to “a third safe country.” Australia has refused to accept returning anyone found to be a refugee to Australia on the grounds that it is pursuing a regional burden-sharing solution. As of August 31, 2014, 1,233 asylum seekers are detained in Nauru. As of September 18, 2014, the Nauru government has carried out 250 status determinations, 206 of whom have been recognized as refugees.

Australia will be failing to meet the terms of its agreement because Cambodia is not a safe third country, Human Rights Watch said.

The Australian government has referred to the transfer to Cambodia as resettlement. However, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has described resettlement in Cambodia as not being a “durable” solution. “It’s not in the spirit of resettlement,” the spokesman said.

Cambodia has not demonstrated the willingness or ability to provide refugees adequate protection, Human Rights Watch said. Some recognized refugees resettled in Cambodia live in fear and self-isolation because the Cambodian government has shown a willingness to collude with countries of origin to have refugees returned, despite their status. As a result, refugees may be afraid to leave their places of residence, preventing them from working and reducing them to severe poverty.

In recent years the government has sent vulnerable people back to countries where they faced abuse, such as China and Vietnam. In December 2009 Cambodia handed over 20 ethnic Uighurs, whom UNHCR regarded as persons of concern, to Chinese government officials, who then returned them to China to secret trials and long prison sentences.

There is concern for the refugees once they arrive in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said. The Cambodian and Australian governments have provided no information regarding refugees’ access to housing, education for children, medical care, and basic livelihoods. The Australian government has not shared details about the status of negotiations and contents of the agreement, nor has either country sought public input for the proposal.

The overall poor human rights situation in Cambodia raises further concerns about the security of refugees transferred there, Human Rights Watch said. The Hun Sen government severely restricts the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and state security forces routinely commit killings, torture, and other abuses with impunity. Those living on the margins – including refugees and asylum seekers lacking employment, Khmer language skills, and a social network – are at particular risk. For instance, Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest, detention, and mistreatment of “undesirables” housed in squalid detention centers run by the Social Welfare Ministry, where beatings, torture, and rapes by guards go unpunished.

“Instead of answering questions about the treatment of refugees in Cambodia, the Australian government has shut down any public discussion of these issues,” Pearson said. “Australia is finding a new excuse to palm off the refugee problem rather than genuinely finding a regional solution that will involve Australia doing its fair share.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Australia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/australia

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Cambodia, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/cambodia

For more information, please contact:
In Sydney, Elaine Pearson (English): +61-400-505-186 (mobile); or pearsoe@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @pearsonelaine
In Kuala Lumpur, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +60-14-914-4104 (mobile); or robertp@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @Reaproy
In New York, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +1-212-810-0469; or kinep@hrw.org. Follow on Twitter @PhelimKine

http://www.hrw.org/node/129406

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[Around the World] Cambodia : Sentence of 2 former Khmer Rouge leaders to life imprisonment is historic -FIDH

Cambodia : Sentence of 2 former Khmer Rouge leaders to life imprisonment is historic

FIDH and ADHOC, welcome the ECCC landmark decision condemning Khieu Samphan, former Head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, and Nuon Chea, former President of the Assembly of People’s Representatives of Democratic Kampuchea and ideologist of the Khmer Rouge regime, to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity related to forced movements of population and the execution of former Khmer Republic soldiers and officials.

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It is the first time that high-ranking officials of the Khmer Rouge regime are convicted by an independent Court. The ECCC trial judges also decided to order collective measures of reparation for Civil Parties.

“Although this decision is issued almost 40 years after the Khmer Rouge crimes, it is a historic victory for Civil Parties”, said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and Civil Parties lawyer. “We hope this decision will contribute to the Cambodian society’s work towards sustainable peace and independent justice”, added Mr. Baudouin.

“Now that the high-ranking officials of the Khmer Rouge regime have been found guilty, we will finally be able to mourn our relatives”, declared Civil Parties from France represented by FIDH, who attended the verdict hearing today. “It was important for us to see those who planned and ordered these crimes be held to account”, they added.

“The decision issued by the Trial Chamber of the ECCC represents an important step against the impunity of former Khmer Rouge high-ranking officials. It is also a positive message for younger generations that these crimes cannot go unpunished”, said Latt Ky, ADHOC representative.

Read full article @ www.fidh.org

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[Press Release] Labor groups picket Korean embassy -PALEA

Labor groups picket Korean embassy

Photo by Yuen Abana

Photo by Yuen Abana

The labor groups Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) picketed the South Korean embassy in January 10, 2013 in McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio in protest at labor repression in Korea and Cambodia.

PALEA logo

The picket-protest was in coordination with a general strike in South Korea. The groups also presented a letter of concern addressed to the Korean ambassador Hyuk Lee.

“The peril to labor rights and conditions in any country is a disadvantage to workers everywhere in this globalized world,” asserted Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and PM vice chair.

In a joint statement, the groups declared their outrage that a South Korean firm, Yakjin Cambodia Inc., called for the intervention of the armed forces of Cambodia that ended in the killing of four garment workers and the wounding of 23 others last January 2 and 3.

The Philippine workers also expressed their solidarity with the Korean workers fight against rail privatization and for labor rights. Even as the strike of the railway workers ended last December 31, the South Korean government has continued to pursue criminal charges against leaders of the Korean Railway Workers Union (KRWU) and civil damages against the union in the amount of over 7.7 billion won. The Philippine groups are also concerned about the threat of dismissal and disciplinary action against some 490 KRWU members.

Together with the police raid on the office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) last December 22, Rivera averred that “These events constitute a clear and present danger to workers rights in the Republic of Korea.”

In their letter to the Korean ambassador, the groups insisted on the demand for the:
withdrawal of criminal charges against KRWU leaders;
withdrawal of damage suit against KRWU;
stop to the dismissals and disciplinary actions against KRWU members;
end to labor repression in the Republic of Korea; and
end to rail privatization.

Rivera ended that “We serve notice to the Korean embassy that Philippine workers will be monitoring the developments in South Korea and will be ready to undertake solidarity actions in the Philippines in coordination with our brothers and sisters in Korea.”

Press Release
January 10, 2014
PALEA
Contact Gerry Rivera @ 09165047751

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[Statement] On the Cambodian Government crackdown on workers protest -CTUHR

On the Cambodian Government crackdown on workers protest

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights vehemently condemns the naked violence the Cambodian Government has employed on protesting garments workers last January 3 in Phnom Penh leaving five workers dead, 20 injured and many others reported to be missing to this day.

CTUHR logo

We also condemn the consequent crackdown on workers protests as the Cambodian Government deployed military in the streets to quell and prevent legitimate people’s protests. All these measures gravely violate human rights and workers rights enshrined in ILO Convention 87 to which the Cambodian Government is a signatory.

Same with the majority of the working people across underdeveloped nations, Cambodian garments workers experience massive and deep exploitation. While Cambodia is among the major exporters of highly-expensive brands of clothes (Gap, H&M, Inditex, Adidas, Puma, Walmart, C&A and others), workers are paid below subsistent rates. The monthly minimum wage of USD80 in Cambodia is in fact only 28 percent of the computed monthly living wage which is USD283.

We are deeply appalled with how the Cambodian Government is virtually leaving the Cambodian workers to die in abject poverty by maintaining inhumane wage levels. But we are enraged to see how the Cambodian state inflicts death on its people who are merely struggling to live with dignity.

The Cambodian workers strike which simply aims to improve living conditions by demanding to increase wages by 100 percent (from USD80 to USD160) is just and legitimate.

Thus, we stand with the Cambodian workers in their fight for significantly better wages. We are also one with them in fighting against state repression and demanding justice for their fallen comrades.

We call on the Cambodian Government to live up to its human rights commitments: put an end on the crackdown and lift the ban against protests and strikes. We demand justice for the victims of state violence in the January 3 protest. Finally, we call on the Cambodian Government to stand for the workers’ interest and heed their demands to monthly minimum wage to USD160.

We urge labor groups and people’s organizations from the all over the world to unite with the Cambodian workers in this universal fight for living wages, justice and freedom.

Justice for the Cambodian Workers!
Stop Trade Union Repression!

For reference: Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director, 0916-248-4876; 411-0256; ctuhr.pilipinas@gmail.com

STATEMENT
10 Jan 2014

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[Solidarity] Open Letter by 47 Asian NGOs to Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia – Forum Asia

7 January 2014

Open Letter by 47 Asian NGOs to Prime Minister Hun Sen:
Stop Violent Crackdown of Protests, Release All Detained Protestors

Your Excellency,

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), together with its 47 member organisations from 16 countries across Asia, writes to you to register our strongest protest against the Cambodian government’s recent series of violent suppression of public assemblies, including one which resulted in the fatal shooting of at least four individuals and scores severely wounded on 3 January 2014, as well as the ongoing judicial harassment against opposition leaders and human rights defenders, and the continued detention of at least 23 individuals whose whereabouts remain unknown.

ForumAsia Logo

We strongly condemn the excessive use of force by the authorities that resulted in the deaths of at least four individuals during the 3 January protest by garment workers demanding better wages. Under international human rights law, firearms shall not be used except under strict circumstances such as in defending others against “the imminent threat of death or serious injury”, and “only when less extreme means are insufficient”. Even in the event of such exceptional circumstances, restraint must be exercised and the principle of proportionality must be observed. We strongly call on your government to ensure that all law enforcement personnel act in accordance with international human rights norms and standards when regulating public assemblies, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. The government must ensure immediate independent and transparent investigations and take swift action to hold those responsible accountable.

We also call for immediate information about the fate and whereabouts of the 23 individuals who were arrested on 2 and 3 January. We are deeply concerned that the authorities have continued to refuse to disclose the location of their detention. Some of these detainees have sustained injuries during their arrest and are in urgent need of medical attention. Despite this, their families, medical professionals and lawyers have been denied any information about their whereabouts and health conditions.

We further deplore the violent dispersal of another anti-government demonstration by about 1,000 people in central Phnom Penh on 4 January 2014, and regret the temporary arrest of five women human rights defenders from the Boeung Kak Lake community on 6 January 2014. The five were arrested as they prepared to protest for the release of other imprisoned human rights defenders, and were released on conditions on the same day after being made to sign documents that compel them to notify the authorities of their future involvement in any protests. We object to the imposition of conditions on the release of the five, and call on the rescinding of such restrictive conditions.

It has also come to our attention that two leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, and one union leader, Rong Chhun, from Cambodia Independent Teachers Association (CITA) and Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCFU) have been summoned to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning on 14 January 2014 at 10AM in relation to their purported involvement in inciting the recent protests. We urge your government to stop the ongoing judicial harassment against opposition leaders and human rights defenders.

We further urge your government to revoke the blanket ban on all public assemblies in Phnom Penh as it violates the fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly, which is guaranteed under the Cambodian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Cambodia is party. It is our view that the continued suppression of peaceful dissent, including through the ban and violent crackdown on public assemblies, will only serve to further fuel discontentment, which will most certainly exacerbate political tensions and social unrest in the country.

We thus strongly urge the government of Cambodia to:

1) Immediately reveal the whereabouts of the 23 detained to ensure that they have access to their families, lawyers and medical professionals. Anyone who is detained solely for peacefully protesting must be released immediately and unconditionally.

2) Stop the ongoing judicial harassment against opposition leaders and human rights defenders, withdraw charges against all individuals in relation to recent protests, and rescind conditions imposed upon the five women human rights defenders from the Boeung Kak Lake community.

3) Immediately retract the blanket ban imposed on all public assemblies and protests in Phnom Penh.

4) Ensure independent and transparent investigations on the indiscriminate use of live ammunition against protestors on 3 January 2014 and that swift action is taken to hold those responsible for the deaths and injuries accountable. Earlier incidences of fatalities caused by the use of firearms by the authorities in the context of protests and public assemblies, including the incidents on 15 September 2013 and 12 November 2013 must also be investigated swiftly with the view of holding the perpetrators fully accountable.

5) Ensure that all law enforcement personnel comply with international human rights norms and standards in regulating public assemblies, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

Yours truly,

Evelyn Balais-Serrano
Executive Director, FORUM-ASIA
Tel: +66 (0)2 637 9126-7 Fax: +66 (0)2 637 9128
Email: easia@forum-asia.org Website: http://www.forum-asia.org

On Behalf of the following member organizations of FORUM-ASIA:

Bangladesh
Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK)
Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA)
Odhikar
Resource Integration Center (RIC)

Burma/Myanmar
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB)

Cambodia
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

India
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
Center for Social Action Documentation Research & Training (ADHIKAR)
Dalit Foundation
Friends’ Association for Rural Reconstruction (FARR)
People’s Watch
People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
Rural Development Society (RDS-LRSA)
South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM)

Indonesia
Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI)
Federation of Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI)
Indonesia’s NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy – Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
Inisiatif Masyarakat Partisipatif untuk Transisi Berkeadilan (IMPARSIAL)
Yayasan Sekretariat Anak Merdeka Indonesia (SAMIN)

Malaysia
Education and Research Association for Consumers (ERA Consumer)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Mongolia
Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
Globe International

Nepal
Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC)
Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)
Women’s Welfare Society (WWS)

Pakistan
Bytes for All (ICTs for development, democracy and social justice)
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP)
Potahar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA)
Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC)

Philippines
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
PILIPINA Legal Resources Center (PLRC)
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Tanggol-Kalikasan – Public Interest Environmental Law Office

Singapore
Think Centre

South Korea
Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)

Sri Lanka
Information Monitor (INFORM)
Law and Society Trust (LST)

Taiwan
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR)

Thailand
People’s Empowerment

Timor Leste
Perkumpulan Hukum, Hak Asasi dan Keadilan (Law, Basic Rights, and Justice Foundation) (HAK Association)
Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP)

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[Solidarity] The other Cambodia: Indigenous People’s Land and Rights

The NGO Forum on Cambodia launched a riveting new video on the issues faced by Indigenous communities over land rights.

The video is titled “The other Cambodia: Indigenous People’s Land and Rights”.

Indigenous communities are very vulnerable to commercial and state interests which are increasingly attracted to exploiting the economic potential of the forests and upland areas of their homelands. Their livelihoods have become very precarious as hydropower, mining developments and Economic Land Concessions strip the forests and destroy their capacity to extract a living from the land resources.

There are 24 groups of Indigenous Peoples scattered over 15 provinces of Cambodia. They are concentrated in the four northeastern provinces of country and the video focusses on Ratanakiri, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces. It shows in detail how their livelihoods are being destroyed by unchecked development.

The lack of enforcement of existing laws, especially the Land Law of 2001 and subsequent policies and sub-decrees has severely undermined the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples. NGO Forum works continually with these communities and the Government to try and improve their situation. This video has been made to raise public awareness of their plight, and the need to enforce existing laws and improve Government directives, to increase the awarding of community land titles and protect their forest livelihoods from complete destruction. The video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2AsLch2yGA.

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[Press Release] PH hunger prevalence worse than global average -NFC

PH hunger prevalence worse than global average

NFCMANILA, Philippines – Politicians running for office in the mid-term elections should stop feeding the Filipino voters with propaganda trash. Rather, they should focus and debate on how they can improve the incidence of undernourishment or chronic hunger in the country, the National Food Coalition (NFC) said Wednesday.

Aurea Miclat-Teves, NFC convener, said there are 870 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat. Citing an infographic of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, she stressed that one in every eight individuals goes to sleep hungry every day.

“It is worse in the Philippines. One in every six Filipinos is experiencing daily the world’s number one health risk – hunger,” said Teves.

She added that FAO’s estimate is still conservative, considering the third quarter findings of the Social Weather Station last year which showed that 21% or an estimated 4.3 million households or one in every five persons experienced “having nothing to eat in the last three months.”

“At the rate this election campaign is going, we have yet to hear concrete proposals from the candidates in addressing the hunger problem,” lamented Teves.

Citing data from FAO, the NFC said that among the countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Cambodia are tied at 2nd rank with 17% prevalence of undernourishment. In terms of actual number, the Philippines has 16 million undernourished persons, while Cambodia has 2 million. Lao People’s Democratic Republic has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the region with 28% or 2 million individuals. Indonesia, while having only 9% prevalence of undernourishment, has the highest number of undernourished citizens in the region, with 21.0 million.

FAO defines undernourishment or chronic hunger as the status of persons, whose food intake regularly provides less than their minimum energy requirements. The average minimum energy requirement per person is about 1800 kcal per day. The exact requirement is determined by a person’s age, body size, activity level and physiological conditions such as illness, infection, pregnancy and lactation.

National Food Policy

“One of the major reasons why the country has high incidence of hunger is the lack of a comprehensive national food policy in the country,” Teves pointed out.

She added that there is an urgent need to craft such policy which needs the full and active participation of all actors concerned, including those most vulnerable to hunger. Said food policy should be along the recommendations by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in General Comment No. 12 (1999) and the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food (2004).

“Should they get elected, incoming members of the 16th Congress must prioritize the crafting of a national food policy that will rectify incoherent, non-complementary and conflicting legal mechanisms,” said Teves.

“If they are really sincere, as how they project themselves during the campaign, then they must enact a framework law on the right to adequate food of every Filipino,” Teves stressed.

Contact persons:
Aurea Miclat-Teves, NFC Convenor, +63.918.991.1910
PRESS RELEASE
24 April 2013

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[Event/Advisory] Raise the Bar! Women’s Rights in the ASEAN Now!

Raise the Bar! Women’s Rights in the ASEAN Now!

Philwomen on ASEAN, a national network of women’s organizations, invites you to join its mobilization on November 9 (Friday). Philwomen will call on the DFA Secretary and PNoy to take a pro-women stance in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Afterwards, the group will troop to the ASEAN chair Cambodian’s embassy to call for the same.

Program (8:00 AM- 11:00 AM):

* Meet in front of Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City
* March from Cuneta Astrodome to Department of Foreign Affairs Office
* Opening remarks
* Messages on various issues:
access to justice
sexual orientation and gender identity
violence against women
sexual and reproductive health and rights
migration
*Reading of the Philwomen statement
*Symbolic handing of Philwomen’s Position to a DFA representative
* Motorcade to Embassy of Cambodia
* Reading of Philwomen statement at the Embassy of Cambodia
* Handing of letter and Philwomen’s Position to the Embassy of Cambodia representative

Reminders:

* Please wear a black shirt.
* No individual group flags or banners. Philwomen will represent all participating groups as a single entity.

Background:

November 18-20 will be a momentous event for all citizens of the ASEAN member countries. On these dates, the ASEAN will adopt the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). The Declaration will serve as the standard of human rights promotion and protection in the Southeast Asian region.

Much to Philwomen’s dismay, the current draft of the AHRD excludes the rights of women, lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and other marginalized groups. Certain principles in the draft also contain articles that are detrimental to the enjoyment of women’s rights like “national and regional particularities” and “public morality” which lowers the bar for human rights in the region. Similarly, the process by which the AHRD has been drafted lacks transparency and accountability.

This Friday’s mobilization is part of Philwomen’s continuing efforts to demand for non-discrimination, access to justice, women’s rights, and cooperation mechanisms for human rights in the ASEAN.
About Philwomen:

Philwomen on ASEAN is a network of women’s rights advocates and organizations in the Philippines that critically engage and promote women’s rights in ASEAN.

Philwomen is composed of almost 80 organizations working on various issues and representing different sectors from rural and urban poor women, women workers, migrants, lesbians, bisexual and trans women (LBT), women with disabilities, women in education, young women, among others, formed in 2010.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/events/217701481696999/

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[In the news] 5 reasons NGOs reject current version of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration -InterAksyon.com

5 reasons NGOs reject current version of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
By Veronica Uy, InterAksyon.com
September 13, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Nongovernmental organizations on Thursday rejected the draft of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration they were shown for consultation and which is set for ratification by the regional bloc’s 10 member-states at their summit in Cambodia this November.

Sixty-two representatives from 54 NGOs based in members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, loosely organized as the Civil Society Forum on ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, met in Manila September 10-11 in Manila ahead of their consultation with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights on September 12.

Cynthia Gabriel, of Malaysia’s Suaram, called the draft as it is currently worded a failure.

“Equality and non-discrimination must be the cornerstone of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Anything less than that is a failure,” she said.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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[Blog] Cambodia’s subservience to China: A Tale of Treachery and Selfishness -by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Cambodia’s subservience to China: A Tale of Treachery and Selfishness
by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

I refer to the AFP report concerning Manila’s act of summoning the Cambodian envoy. As reported by the said newspaper:

“The Philippines has summoned Cambodia’s ambassador to explain comments he made accusing it and Vietnam of playing “dirty politics” in trying to solve a maritime row with China.

“The move appeared to further deepen divisions within the 10-nation Asean grouping, more than two weeks after a ministerial meeting hosted by Cambodia ended in disarray over the sea dispute.”

Raul Hernandez, the spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Cambodian ambassador, Hos Sereythonh was personally asked to categorically explain his comments. However, he failed to turn up and claimed that he is sick.
Hernandez said in a statement that:

“We will continue to summon him until he is able to come. We want him to explain what he meant when he stated that the ‘inflexible and non-negotiable position of two countries of Asean is dirty politics’.”

The Cambodian envoy is referring to the Philippines and Vietnam respectively concerning the said two countries’ on-going maritime dispute with China.

As reported by Michaela Del Callar of GMA News Network, “DFA demands explanation from Cambodian envoy for caustic remarks”, July 31:

“The rift started two weeks ago when the ASEAN failed to issue its traditional joint statement as Cambodia, a known Chinese ally, blocked moves to mention the Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal incident between the Philippines and China in the proposed communiqué.

“It was an unprecedented moment of disunity in the bloc’s 45-year history.

“Vietnam also wanted to include in the document recent incidents of China’s incursions in its waters.

“After the Phnom Penh meetings, Foreign Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio issued a public statement explaining that the ASEAN failed to come up with a communiqué due to Cambodia’s firm position not to reflect the recent developments in the South China Sea despite the view of the majority of the bloc’s members that these developments impinge on the overall security of the region.

“In response, the Cambodian ambassador sent a letter to the Philippine Star accusing the Philippines and also Vietnam of “sabotaging” the statement.

“The Cambodian envoy’s biting criticism of the Philippines and Vietnam are the latest twist in the brewing animosity between this year’s host and Chinese ally Cambodia on the one side and Manila and Hanoi on the other over the territorial disputes that had been a divisive issue within the regional grouping.”

Commentaries:

For all legal intent and purposes, I view that the action undertaken by the Cambodian envoy with the apparent concurrence of his government, is not only undiplomatic, but also selfish and traitorous.

It is undiplomatic by virtue of the fact that said envoy did not give the full details and complete information concerning the unfortunate event of Asean failing to issue a joint communiqué for the first time in 45 years.

It is selfish in my view because Cambodia is only concern with its interest to the detriment of the collective interest of the whole region.

It is in this grave sense that Cambodia’s position through the words of its Philippine ambassador is traitorous on account of betraying the general welfare of the Asean just to satisfy and please China, which is not even a member of the said bloc. This is a shame!
What are the evidence of my charge and the proof of my accusation?

I am specifically referring to the minutes of the ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh. As already noted, it is not the Philippines or Vietnam’s fault why Asean failed to issue the said communiqué. It is due to “Cambodia’s firm position not to reflect the recent developments in the South China Sea despite the view of the majority of the bloc’s members that these developments impinge on the overall security of the region.”

Hernandez charged Cambodia, a close ally and number one trading partner of China, of rejecting repeatedly “at least five final drafts of the joint statement that would have addressed the maritime row.”

The truth, no matter how sad it is; is crystally clear: Asean failed to issue the said communiqué because of China’s bullying and flexing of its muscles and Cambodia’s subservience and connivance with the said bully at the expense of other Asean member states.
Cambodia instead of coming out to support the position of the

Philippines, Vietnam and other member states of the Asean, rather threw its lot to China, which is a non-member.

Worst, after they created the problem that leads to the apparent division and crack in the grouping, they pointed their finger and blame the Philippines and Vietnam.

This is a shame, truly a disgusting and rude behavior not only of the said ambassador but by Cambodia itself.

The Question of “Dirty Politics”

Cambodia accused the Philippines and Vietnam of ‘inflexible and non-negotiable position’ which it construed as “dirty politics”.

Further, Cambodia also accused the said two countries for “sabotaging” the said statement and lastly, Phnom Penh maintained that it will not allow the ministerial meeting to be a “hostage” by the prevailing maritime dispute involving the member states and China.

Commentaries:

I do not know whether Cambodia still remembers or not, that during its conflict with neighboring Thailand about their dispute concerning the Preah Vihear Temple, Manila never accused them or Thailand of “dirty politics”. Every time, Cambodia and Thailand will engaged in a military skirmish, Manila is always the first one who calls for sobriety and moderation between the two protagonists and disputants. Through the years, Manila is consistent in its view that the proper and the most reasonable method of resolving the said dispute (said issue was finally resolved by the International Court of Justice last month) is by placing the said issue before an international court. In the interim, Manila helped both Cambodia and Thailand in the de-escalation of violence and maintaining peace in the said volatile border.

In August of 1997, following the bloody coup, in June of that year, launched by Hun Sen against Norodom Ranariddh and his supporters, the latter went to Manila and he was accepted and welcome there, not as a defeated political entity or a refugee or a loser; but as a statesman and he was afforded with due respect and full courtesy.

Needless to say, Manila also helped Cambodia during those critical times for the normalization of the country and assisted them to have a political formula to settle the dispute between Hun Sen and Norodom Ranariddh.

I do not know whether that ambassador or the whole of Cambodia still remembers all of these acts and services that we Filipinos gave and extended to them.

After all of those friendship, assistance and help that we had given to Cambodia, now this country is accusing us of engaging in “dirty politics”. Is it “dirty politics” to fight for one’s territory and property?

I say that Cambodia is the one engaged in “dirty politics”. That is by flirting and conniving with China as against the interest of other member nations of the Asean. And this is “dirty politics” of the worst kind. Why? Not only is Cambodia selfish but also a traitor to the regional bloc. Phnom Penh is selfish by virtue of the fact that it is only concern with its own naked financial interest and traitor for turning its back to Asean.

Suggestion:

I agree with the action took by the Department of Foreign Affairs in summoning the Cambodian ambassador in order for that individual to answer for his statement. If after the said meeting and the DFA is not satisfied with his explanation, said envoy must be declared a persona non grata. Further, Manila must recall the ambassador in Phnom Penh back home. If it is necessary, the Philippines should terminate all relations with Cambodia. We must register a clear point to China as the principal of this regional division and dispute and so as Cambodia as its accessory, dog and puppet.

The message must be hammered loud and clear!

To Cambodia, may I remind you that the Philippines with Indonesia and Malaysia are the original founders of the Maphilindo which is the embryo of the present Asean. We just welcome you into the said organization just recently; henceforth do not act as if you are somebody.

We, Filipinos have a distinctive culture known as “utang na loob”. It means; debt of honor or gratitude. Shame on you being an ingrate and no sense of honor! The Heavens will gravely curse you and History will heavily condemn you!

Lastly, to China, do not act as if you own the world. No one and nothing is indispensable in this world! Heed the lessons of world history. Your gigantic empire will one day crumble too, just like the Roman, the Hohenzollern, the Ottoman, the Romanov empires, etc.

Your Great Wall will one day fall just like the Berlin wall. Why? Your people will one day rise up again, just like in 1911 and 1989 to try to overthrow you!

Mark my words!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

August 3, 2012
Subang Jaya, Darul Ehsan,
Selangor, Malaysia

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[Blog] Bullyism: The New Face of Imperialism (China’s invocation of its so-called historical right) -Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Bullyism: The New Face of Imperialism (China’s invocation of its so-called historical right)

I am writing once again to highlight to the international community and to the family of nation China’s aggressive imperialist design, to point out its continuous and hilarious invocation of its so-called historical right over the islands, shoals and islets, etc. that it is vigorously claiming ownership, not only in Southeast, but also in South Asia as against other parties-in-interests and claimants and to warn the whole world with regard to the nefarious repercussions of its rude gestures and crude behavior!

A couple of days ago, for the first time in 45 years in the whole existence of its history, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has failed to come out with a joint statement or communiqué concerning the member states’ claim and stance in relation to China’s counterclaim.
At the said regional summit, the Philippine foreign minister denounced Chinese “duplicity” and “intimidation” in the South China Sea.

According to the said minister, Albert del Rosario, in an official statement:

“If Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction can be denigrated by a powerful country through pressure, duplicity, intimidation and the threat of force, the international community should be concerned about the behavior.

“If left unchecked, the increasing tensions that is being generated in the process could further escalate into physical hostilities which no one wants.”

Del Rosario further stated that China’s increasingly and aggressively assertive stance over disputed and non-disputed areas of the South China Sea posed a “threat to the peace and stability” in the Asia Pacific region.

On this juncture, I also condemn the idiotic, myopic and selfish position taken by the summit’s chair.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong expresses regret but says he cannot accept that the joint communique “has become the hostage of the bilateral issue between the Philippines and China”.
I perfectly understand that China is the number one trading partner of Cambodia, however, he should not only think of their own interest but also the interest as a whole and the general welfare of the other member states.

The precedent set by Cambodia is not good, not only for the group but also for the whole region!
This must be corrected!

In an article, Ernest Bower, “Invest in Sean, understand a misaligned China”, the Senior Adviser and Director for Southeast Asia Program, Ernest Bower said the following remarkable words:
“For the first time in its 45-year history, Asean’s foreign ministers failed to issue a joint communiqué following their consultations last week in Phnom Penh. It is important to understand the high-profile failure.

“What happened and what does it mean for Asean and for the Philippines?

“Asean foreign ministers spent hours reviewing a substantive agenda which by all accounts represented the growing maturity of Asean and its relevance not only to its 10-member countries but to its dialogue partners from around the world.

“Ministers talked about a broad array of issues ranging from economic cooperation and integration to political and security alignment to social and cultural cooperation. Even the politically sensitive issues such as disputes in the South China Sea were fully discussed.

“Problems arose when it was time to agree on the draft of the joint communiqué, which the Cambodian chair deputy prime minister and foreign minister Hor Nam Hong had delegated to a committee comprised Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.”

This is my view is a negative sign. Negative in the sense that, Asean as a regional entity instead of uniting as a whole is perceived as a fragmented entity. The unfortunate event in Phnom Penh, its utter failure to come out with a unified call concerning the prevailing burning issue shows the division of the said bloc, betrays Asean member states’ lack of coherence, revealed the reluctance of some of its members to stand up as one against China, and worst, shows its fear and cowardice to offend the giant.

I do not know whether the other member of the said grouping is aware or conscious of the ill-effect of putting a solid stance against China, yet it is my firm view that it has a grave and deleterious consequences in the long run, not only to the aggrieved parties subject of the dispute but to all members — in the years to come.

The inutility and hesitance of Asean will further embolden the giant to continue to wreak havoc and sow confusion in the entire South China Sea.

Consider the following cases of dispute, marked by tension in recent times wherein China is involved:
1. Philippines versus China, April, 2012. This high profile incident concerns the stand-off of the two countries at the Scarborough Shoal. As of the moment, said issue is not yet resolve.
2. Vietnam versus China, May, 2012. This pertains to China’s move in calling for foreign investors and gas explorations on a contested part of the Spratly which is near Vietnam’s jurisdiction.
3. Japan versus China, June, 2012. The issue of this dispute is about the ownership of the islands of Senkaku.
4. Taiwan versus China, July, 2012. This concerns the issue of Taiwan’s intention of widening the run way of an airport, on a contested Spratly island.
5. Just days ago, one of China’s ship “accidentally” run aground at the Spratly, clearly within Philippine territory.

As reported by Rappler, a Philippine Social News Network:

The Sydney Morning Herald report says “Salvage operations could be diplomatically challenging given the vessel appears to have run aground within 200 kilometers of the Philippine coast which is squarely within what Manila claims to be its exclusive economic zone.”

The vessel is believed to be People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel No. 560, a Jianghu-class frigate.

The Australian news site says, “The accident could not have come at a more embarrassing moment for the Chinese leadership, who have been pressing territorial claims.”

The Philippines, for its part says it is ready to assist any ship in distress.

Western Command spokesperson Lt Col Neil Estrella says the Philippines is “duty-bound to provide assistance regardless of whether or not they intruded in our territorial waters.”

If the world will not do something, then China will overrun the whole of the Southeast and South Asia.

I view China’s actuations today the same as the Japanese did during the period between 1929 to1932.

The world did nothing! What happened? Japan annexed Korea, Manchuria, ransacked China (specifically Nanking in 1937), attacked and overrun the rest of Southeast Asia and tried to rule the rest of Asia under their so-called Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere rhetoric and propaganda.

Now, look closely at the trend, compare the facts and analyze deeply the similarity between Japan then and China now.

Though China is not (yet) fully using military means in asserting their claim, they are in a large sense engaged in harassment, intimidation and bullying in the whole region afore-quoted.
Taiwan since day one had always been tagged as a “renegade province” and always posed to be taken back by whatever means.

Vietnam and China were engaged in a brief military skirmish at the Yongshu Reef. It happened on March 14, 1988. Yongshu Reef is the Johnson South Reef in the Spratly that both China and Vietnam claim.

With reference to the Philippines during the height of the April stand-off at the Scarborough Shoal, a news TV station in China even reported that the entire Philippines was also owned by them. After some protestation and perhaps, after they realize their mistake; they said that it was an oversight.

As already noted, China just recently infuriated Vietnam by calling in foreign investors and gas exploration in another disputed area.

Not content in Southeast Asia, this bloody giant and bully turn its attention to South China and this time engaged Japan in a new verbal tussle concerning the ownership of the Senkaku islands.

As reported by Michael Auslin, in an article “Japan Fends Off a Bear and a Dragon” which appeared at the Wall Street Journal (Opinion Asia):

“Japan’s dispute with China over the Senkaku islands (known to the Chinese as Diaoyutai) has dramatically heated up in recent weeks. The islands, which have been administered by Japan since 1972, straddle vast undersea natural gas and oil fields and are a key fishing ground. The catalyst for the latest tensions was provided by firebrand Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara, who proposed in April to buy the Senkaku islands from their private owners.”

In all of these disputes concerning various countries, China held firm with their so-called historical right over the said islands, shoals and islets.

Only a moron, or worst a complete idiot will listen and/or give this giant the benefit of the doubt. Their argument is the worst basis one could advance in proving and asserting ownership.
Be that as it may, if they are so certain about their contention; why it is that they are not resorting to the international judicial process by placing the various claims to the jurisdiction of a global court?

Why they are engaged in a habitual act of both verbal assault and naval harassment?

Why they are bullying those small countries that they have a dispute with?

When would all of these ridiculous pronouncements and irritating conduct of China end?

It is my firm view that China must be put to order or put to place.

What do I mean?

The world must come together to say to China that it cannot do all of its insidious, nefarious and aggressive conduct either in Asia or any part of the globe for that matter. The international community must issue to this bully and giant that, we are not tolerating its intimidation and harassment and that it must cease and desist from its imperialist and expansionist desires!
The world must never forget the lesson of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and Japan’s imperialism in Asia.

If the international community will not do something and contain at this early stage this bully and giant; then the worst might happen again and that is another war may ensue or military hostility in Asia may erupt.

A war or an armed confrontation or a military hostility is against the interest, not only of the people of Asia but also of the whole humanity.

Suggestions:
Hence, I call upon the Asean to convene or call another high-level talk to discuss principally and specifically their joint attitude and unified stand as against China. The Philippines, Vietnam and other member states must continue to work and believe in Asean and must not leave nor bolt the said bloc. A divided and weak Asean is favorable to China’s interest. An attitude of “united we stand and divided we fall” is what Beijing wants. Manila, Hanoi, etc. must not fall to this trap.

I concur with Bower that:

“The most important message coming from Phnom Penh is not the intramural Asean spat over language in the joint statement; it is the fact that China has decided that a weak and splintered Asean is in its own interests.

“Looking ahead, Asean must take a clear-eyed view of the message that China sent in Phnom Penh and redouble its efforts to stay the course its leaders laid out in the Asean Charter – namely to strive for political, economic and social integration by 2015.

“The Philippines should work with countries interested in a strong and mature Asean to ensure regional organizations have the institutional confidence to resist efforts to cynically undermine regional cooperation to advance their own sovereign and commercial interests.

“Filipinos should know what happened in Phnom Penh and understand that the message from Cambodia is not “Asean is messy and we should proceed carefully and reduce our engagement and investment,” but rather “Asean unity is not supported by China and this is an indication we need to redouble our efforts to engage and support Asean’s goals for unity.”

I also call upon the United Nations to intervene with regard to this issue!
China must be check and place properly to its proper place!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

July 17, 2012
Subang Jaya, Darul Ehsan,
Selangor, Malaysia

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[Statement] from the Burma/Myanmar Delegation to the ACSC/APF 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Statement from the Burma/Myanmar Delegation to the ACSC/APF 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Burma/Myanmar’s workshop, along with three other workshops, was not allowed to take place at the ACSC/APF 2012. Rather, the organizers were forced to move the workshops to another location.

The workshop was to be on Burma/Myanmar’s current political and human rights situation and the challenges this poses to the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014. On the first day of the conference organizers also received pressure to remove pictures of political prisoners from Burma/Myanmar in the exhibition hall of the conference.

The challenges and restrictions experienced in Cambodia are an alarming reminder that Burma/Myanmar’s chairmanship in 2014 will likely face significant hurdles in providing the space for the people of Burma/Myanmar and the independent regional civil society to gather and take the people’s concerns to ASEAN leaders.

Indeed, despite encouraging developments, Burma is still a place of systematic and widespread human rights violations that may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, and no political space and freedom. The recent negotiations between Thein Sein’s government and ethnic armed groups have not led to an end to conflict and the Burma Army continues to perpetrate gross human rights abuses against ethnic civilians.

The recent easing of media censorship has not been accompanied by legislative reforms. Repressive laws, which include restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and the press, remain on the books.

Released political prisoners face ongoing harassment, constant surveillance and re-arrest. There remain a documented 959 political prisoners behind bars, but this number is believed to be higher. The people continue to fear arrest for their political activities.

We therefore urge ASEAN leaders to:

Respect the right to freedom of speech and assembly of the independent civil society and the people of ASEAN.

Commit to promote a genuinely people-centered ASEAN and the free and meaningful participation of the people of Burma/Myanmar and the regional independent civil society in ASEAN’s process of community building during Burma/Myanmar’s chairmanship in 2014.

Urge President Thein Sein to:
Unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and immediately stop intimidation and surveillance of those who have been released;
Withdraw Burma Army troops from ethnic areas and reach a nationwide ceasefire that addresses the root political causes of conflict with ethnic armed groups;
Provide aid to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in all conflict affected areas and permit international and local NGOs to deliver humanitarian assistance;
Address the issue of truth and accountability for human rights abuses and put an end to the ability of the Burma Army to perpetrate crimes with impunity;
Amend or repeal those laws that restrict the human rights of the people of Burma/Myanmar in order to guarantee free and meaningful participation of the people and independent civil society in the transition process;
Ensure that development projects take into account local communities’ needs and rights, do not exacerbate conflict, respect international environmental and human rights standards, are conducted in a transparent manner and support civil society;
Constructively combat the country’s drug problem by supporting alternative crop development rather than destroying opium fields and livelihoods, by investigating the Burma Army’s involvement in the drug trade and carrying out public awareness-raising about the dangers of drug use throughout the country; and;
Ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and promote economic and social integration of disabled persons.

Source:  Task Force on ASEAN and Burma on the ACSC/APF 2012

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[In the news] ICCO Hails Philippine Press Freedom | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online

ICCO Hails Philippine Press Freedom | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online.

By EDITH B. COLMO
March 15, 2012

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occ. — Press freedom in the Philippines was noted and hailed by International Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO) Foundation regional manager Kees de Ruitger.

“Compared to such other Asian countries as Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, the press in the Philippines enjoys plenty of freedom to report the news as it happens,” observed Ruiter last weekend during a three-day conference here on Value Chain Development on Fair Economic Development: Conversations on Framework, hosted by partner NGO – Task Force Mapalad, among other non-government organizations and local government agency partners .

The Netherlands-based ICCO supports its local partner organizations in capability building and technical inputs for its beneficiaries including farmers, fishermen, indigenous peoples and other marginalized sectors in the rural areas with poverty-alleviating inputs.

Read full article @ www.mb.com.ph

[Press Release] The Women’s Caucus: Can we still trust ASEAN?

Despite the hype surrounding the ASEAN Summit in Bali, women from the region found no signs in ASEAN towards advancing women’s human rights and gender equality. Instead they alarmed with the body’s support for the 2014 chairship of Burma, where cases of women’s human rights violations are mounting, among others. Moreover there are qualms over the civil society space in Cambodia when it starts the chairship next year.

“Although Indonesia has been quite open to civil society, this is not a nice touch as Indonesia ends its term and passes the baton to the next chair,” Rena Herdiyani of Kalyanamitra, a member of the South East Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN (Women’s Caucus) put it.

“The Burmese Army’s widespread attacks against ethnic civilian communities, especially against women, is an egregious violation of international law and blatantly shows the lack of the rule of law in Burma. We know that you understand the security of women is not a minor issue, but a major problem that has to be addressed before a nation can progress,” the Women’s League of Burma said. The organisation documented 81 cases of rape this year alone.

The ASEAN Summit ended just days before the 16 Days of Activism against Violence Against Women international campaign.

With this development, the Women’s Caucus is watchful of the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). “Women’s human rights must never be a point of negotiations. ASEAN must acknowledge what we are born with, as affirmed by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international human rights instruments.” Herdiyani added.

Last month, the Women’s Caucus formally submitted its input to the AHRD, reiterating human rights such as equality and non-disrimination, freedom from violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, equal rights in marriage and family life, decent work in local and overseas employment and citizenship especially for refugees and women on the move, among many others.

As the AHRD will be deliberated and adopted under Cambodia’s chairship, the Women’s Caucus call for an open and safe space for civil society next year. “We are not just feminists and activists but we are stakeholders of ASEAN, we have to critically engage with the process, especially as ASEAN is increasingly become a part of our daily lives. There is no way we could do this if ASEAN only wants to hear good things,” Kunthea Chan of Cambodian women’s organisation, Silaka asserted.

The South East Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN or the Women’s Caucus is a network of women’s organisations from 11 countries, engaging ASEAN to advance women’s human rights in the region.

27 November 2011
PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
Contact persons:
Rena Herdiyani, +62 8129820147
Nina Somera, +62 87836563943 and +66 811621073

[Press Release] Indigenous communities and civil society groups challenge big business and ASEAN on CSR Framework; calls for greater corporate accountability

Amidst the current worldwide economic crisis and the growing resentment against the so-called corporate greed, representatives of civil society groups and indigenous communities from Southeast Asia expressed their concerns over the wanton disregard by big businesses of the human rights of indigenous peoples, migrant workers and other marginalized groups.

In a public forum on corporate social responsibility (CSR) held in Bali, Indonesia the participants said they were disappointed with how the multinational corporations were given almost free access by ASEAN member governments to take over their ancestral lands.

“Being highly dependent on resource extraction and exploitation for its economic development, majority of the ASEAN countries have directly taken over lands and resources of indigenous peoples and local communities or handed these over to corporations as concessions for mining, plantations, hydropower plants, and resorts,” said Bernice See of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and Indigenous Peoples Task Force on ASEAN.

The participants also disparaged ASEAN’s vision of a Caring and Sharing Community by 2015 when they said this community seems to exclude the people whose lives, livelihoods, homelands, jobs and futures are being sacrificed for this vision.

“The plethora of cases of human rights violations against the collective rights of indigenous and the human rights of workers, local communities, farmers/peasant, and other marginalized sectors of society does not speak well of a caring and sharing community. Large sections of the ASEAN community bear the burden while the benefits are being enjoyed by a few big corporations,” Ms. See added.

It was agreed in the forum that the present CSR framework espoused and supported by ASEAN should be challenged. “It is of great concern to us that, based on the record of businesses and governments in the South East Asian region, CSR is being used to mask the ill effects of existing business practices in the region. Furthermore, it is also used to hide the collusion of private business interests and governments in the pursuit of profit and economic development,” stressed Corinna Lopa, Regional Coordinator of the South East Asian Committee for Advocacy and Co-Convener of the Solidarity for Asian Peoples Advocacy Working Group on ASEAN.

In her opening speech at the forum, Ms. Lopa also said that they want to see increased corporate accountability in the region, by both domestic and multi-national corporations. She said that greater regulation of the corporate sector by ASEAN member governments should be implemented in order to safeguard the rights of the peoples and communities. “We would like to see enhanced corporate regulatory frameworks in the ASEAN region to ensure the protection of the South East Asian peoples, communities and environment,” she said.

With the take over of their land come the abuses and sufferings

Some of the witnesses, who came from the affected communities in Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia, detailed the effects of development projects and abuses committed by the corporations against their peoples and communities

The Xayabouri Dam Project in the Mekong region:

•         Will inundate approximately 2,130 people from 10 villages.

•         Loss of agricultural and riverbank gardens,

•         Changes to aquatic habitat and ecosystem of the river by blocking fish migration route to upper reaches.Up to 41 fish species would be at risk of extinction, including the critically endangered Giant Mekong Catfish. Impact to Cambodia’s great lake

•         Impacts on agriculture resource and saline intrusion in Mekong delta

The PT Freeport Mining Operation in Papua, Indonesia

Mine tailings containing dangerous chemicals caused various health problems to the people living near the area

Several people who opposed the mining operation were beaten and killed. In October 2011, three people were shot dead in the Tanggul Timur Navaro area. The community believes that Freeport security personnel were responsible

The Socfin-KCD Economic Land Concession in Bousra Commune, Mondulkiri, Cambodia

·        2 economic land concessions (ELCs) over 7,000 hectares of indigenous territory in Bousra Commune have been granted to Socfin-KCD for 70 years

·        Over 850 families, 90%  of them belonging to the Bunong indigenous people face displacement

·        The Bunong practice an animist religious belief system that involves the protection of spirit forests and burial grounds of their ancestors

·        Destruction of these sacred sites impacts on their freedom to practice their religion  which is part of their identity

·        The Bunong people’ collective right to free prior and informed consent was not respected by the Government of Indonesia when it granted the ELC as inadequate information was shared, information was not shared in a language fully understood by the affected Bunong communities, and it did not follow the decision-making processes of the Bunong.

The Nickel Mines of Vale Inco in Karonsi’e Dongi in Sorowako, South Sulawesi

·        The Vale Inco succeeded the mining concession of PT Inco which  has taken over the settlement of the Karonsi’e Dongi of Sorowako, South Sulawesi

·        More than 38 years of struggling to take back their land has not produced any sustainable solution to their problem

·        The Suharto regime turned over their land to PT Inco without their free prior and informed consent

·        The occupation of their ancestral land by PT Inco denies them the right as a people to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions.

There were other reported cases of violations of the collective rights and customary laws of indigenous peoples in the mining projects in the Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines and in North Maluku in Indonesia.

Towards the end of the forum, the participants said that they will not let ASEAN and the multinational corporations treat them as victims as they will continue to organize, cooperate and build their own capacities to push for the recognition of their rights and for ASEAN and big business to respect these rights.

“There is something that we can do. It is us who will change the situation. It is in our power to change the tide against the exploitation of our resources in our territories,” said Joan Carling, Secretary General of the AIPP.

The forum was organized by the South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA), the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) for the Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacy (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN, the SAPA Task Force on ASEAN and the Extractive Industries, and the Indigenous Peoples’ ASEAN Task Force.

For more information please contact:

Corinna Lopa, clopa@seaca.net, +639088649695
Bernice See, bernice@aippnet.org
Fabby Tumiwa, fabby@iesr-indonesia.org

[In the news] UN tells Asia: Make flood prevention top priority – GMAnews.tv

UN tells Asia: Make flood prevention top priority
PATERNO ESMAQUEL II, GMA News

The United Nations (UN) wants Asian governments to ramp up their investments in disaster risk reduction to curb and prevent the floods ravaging a number of Asian countries, the international organization said over the weekend.

Like the Philippines, countries such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Thailand are all suffering from floods, noted the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in a statement issued Saturday.

“People shouldn’t die because of floods. We have the technology to alert communities before floods arrive. People can be evacuated in time, lives saved and livelihoods protected,” said Margareta Wahlström, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction.

“Once again, early warning systems are the smart choice and the most efficient of all disaster prevention measures,” she added.

A model for disaster preparedness comes from the Philippines itself, with the UN having awarded Camotes Island in Cebu for using the Filipino purok system in preparing for disasters.

Read full article @ www.gmanews.tv

[Statement] Asian Parliamentarians Forum on Migrant Workers Manila Statement – 24-26 May 2011 – www.mfasia.org

 

We, Asian Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka have come together on the eve of the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference. This is a monumental occasion at which the tripartite constituents of the ILO will negotiate the text for an ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, supplemented with aRecommendation. This new international treaty would establish, for the first time, global labour standards for this historically neglected group of workers.

We have collectively deliberated on the vulnerability of Migrant Domestic Workers in a number of host countries, and we recognize the pressing need for strong support of this landmark Convention, setting the minimum framework for national legislation that recognizes the contribution that migrant domestic workers make to the development of both their home and host countries.

The United Nations estimates that a large proportion of the 62 million migrant workers in Asia1 are women who are mostly employed in domestic work. Migrant domestic workers from labour-sending countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, work in households in wealthier countries across Asia and the Middle East. Major destination countries include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. While some migrant domestic workers have positive experiences, our recent field investigations in a number of destination
countries show that many others face the risk of abuse at all stages of the migration process, with serious lack of protection measures and access to justice in destination countries. This is also verified by parliamentarians’ reports of inhumane living and working conditions confronting most domestic workers in the Gulf States.2

Acknowledging that most countries do not include domestic workers in their labour laws, it is imperative that as the ILO begins its deliberations on an international convention, parliamentarians from both labour sending and receiving countries, who have largely
remained on the periphery of deliberations on migration policy, urgently convene around parliamentary processes for the drafting of national legislation that recognizes the rights of domestic workers, the minimum standards for which will be stipulated in the
forthcoming ILO Convention.

To ensure that migrant work is not commodified, and that migrant worker communities are not played off against one another, it is imperative that sending countries unite and agree on a common strategy to urge receiving countries to adopt laws and regulations that promote the interests and welfare of migrant workers.

Recognizing previous attempts at the ASEAN level to promote a greater understanding of migrant worker issues among parliamentarians, and encouraged by the establishment of a committee tasked with crafting instruments to promote the protection of migrant workers within the region, we urge our respective governments to adopt and implement without further delay, a legallybinding instrument of protection for ALL migrant workers within ASEAN.

We call for the formation of an Asia-wide parliamentarians’ caucus on migrant workers to cooperate in the enactment of legislation that would promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families, and in overseeing the implementation of these
laws and multilateral agreements.

Furthermore, we commit to bringing this strong sense of solidarity and collaboration to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly that will meet in Cambodia in September, 2011.
Finally, we commit to supporting an ILO Convention setting out international standards on decent work for domestic workers, and to work towards the creation and adoption of national legislation that reflects the same.

Signed at Manila by:
Mr. Md. Israfil Alam
Member of Parliament, Bangladesh
Chairman, Standing Committee on Ministry of Labour and Employment
Chairman, Extreme Poverty Cluster of All Party Parliamentary Group

Mr. Shantha Bandara
Member of Parliament, Kurunegala District
Sri Lanka

Representative Walden Bello
Chair, Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs
Philippine House of Representatives

Mr. Mustaque Ahmed Ruhi
Member of Parliament, Bangladesh
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment

His Excellency Son Chhay
Member of the Cambodian National Assembly

Mr. Shehan Semasinghe
Member of Parliament, Anuradhapura District
Sri Lanka

Ms. Eva Kusuma Sundari
Member of Parliament, Indonesia
Commission for Law and Human Rights,
Special Team on Migrant Workers
DPR-RI

footnotes:
1 UN DESA 2009
2 In January 2011, the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs of the Philippines sent a delegation of 5 parliamentarians to
Saudi Arabia. In April 2011, the Indonesian parliament also sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia. Both delegations
investigated the living conditions of migrant workers from their respective countries.

(Dear Friends,

From May 24-26, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), the Philippine House Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs (COWA), and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) welcomed Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka to Manila for the Parliamentarians’ Forum on Migrant Domestic Workers.

At the invitation of COWA, our guest parliamentarians joined its Committee Meeting on Wednesday, May 25th to discuss the need for regional cooperation on the issues of migrant domestic workers in Asia, and to engage in a dialogue on ensuring protection for migrant domestic workers from the region. On May 26th, MFA hosted a series of workshops designed to encourage learning and exchange of information among parliamentarians, with civil society organizations taking on a facilitative function, on the changing response of stakeholders to migrant domestic workers’ issues in receiving states, and the roles of parliamentarians in engaging in this important area.

The statement attached is the culmination of the event which outlines the shared commitments of Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, especially on their countries’ support for the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

The Parliamentarians call for the formation of an Asia-wide parliamentarians’ caucus on migrant workers to cooperate in the enactment of legislation that would promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families, and in overseeing the implementation of these laws and multilateral agreements.

Furthermore, they commit to bringing this strong sense of solidarity and collaboration to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly that will meet in Cambodia in September, 2011.

Finally, Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka commit to supporting an ILO Convention setting out international standards on decent work for domestic workers, and to work towards the creation and adoption of national legislation that reflects the same.

The full statement is attached to this email, together with photos and news articles covering the event. You can also access the documents on the MFA website, http://www.mfasia.org

Courage, Peace, Power in a life full of meaning.

William Gois

–Migrant Forum in Asia
85-C Masikap Extension, Central District
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 Philippines
Telephone: (+63 2) 928-2740
Telefax:  (+63 2) 433-3508
Mobile:    (+63) 921-540-5063
Email:    mfa@pacific.net.hk
Web: http://www.mfasia.org)

[From the web] The LGBTIQ Agenda: Equality now!

Promotion & Protection of Human Rights of LGBTIQ in ASEAN. Photo by aseancivilsociety.net

Statement of the first ASEAN Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) People’s Caucus

From May 2 to May 5, 2011 over forty lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenders, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) activists representing 8 out of ten Southeast Asian countries[1] came together in a historic assembly for the ASEAN People’s Forum to tell their governments that the status quo is not acceptable and that the recognition, promotion, and protection of LGBTIQ rights is long overdue.

ASEAN is the cradle of the Yogyakarta Principles[2], a landmark articulation of internationally recognized human rights instruments in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), and yet LGBTIQs in ASEAN countries consistently face criminalization, persecution, discrimination and abuse because of who they are.

In Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Burma, authorities arrest, detain and persecute individuals because of colonial laws that criminalize their sexual orientation or gender identity. In other ASEAN countries, certain laws are abused with impunity to harass or persecute individuals whose sexuality or gender is deemed unacceptable, immoral, or unnatural: anti-prostitution, anti-trafficking, or anti-pornography laws in Indonesia and the Philippines are applied to conduct illegal raids in gay establishments or to nab transgenders, oftentimes subjecting them to humiliation and extortion. The anti-kidnapping law in the Philippines is likewise used to forcibly break apart lesbian couples living under consensual and legitimate relationships.

We are part of the people of ASEAN, and yet across the region we are treated as criminals  and as second class citizens.

Instead of representing the interests of all citizens, many governments and state institutions become instruments of religious and sectarian prejudice. In Surabaya, Indonesia, the police was complicit in an attack by an intolerant religious group against the participants of an international LGBTIQ conference.

A climate of stigma and discrimination prevails in most, if not all, ASEAN countries. From Vietnam to Brunei Darussalam, social stigma persists. Sexual orientations and gender identities outside heterosexuality and patriarchal gender norms are considered as a sickness that can be corrected through rape, reparative camps like in Besut, Malaysia, only one of several camps in the country, and other damaging psycho-social measures.

Access to basic services, from health to education, is denied on the basis of one’s presumed or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. Stigma has contributed to the steep rise in HIV infection among at-risk populations like men who have sex with men and transgenders, making it difficult for preventive interventions to reach them.

But our movements are growing. In various parts of the region, pride is unraveling and we will not take exclusion sitting down. LGBTIQ activists and organizations continue to actively engage government institutions, mass media, and civil society for equal rights and basic fairness. It is in this spirit of pride and dignity that we are reclaiming our rightful space in our respective countries and demand our governments to:

* Immediately repeal laws that directly and indirectly criminalize SOGI, recognize LGBTIQ rights as human rights, and harmonize national laws, policies and practices with the Yogyakarta Principles.
* Establish national level mechanisms and review existing regional human rights instruments (e.g. AICHR, ACWC) to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people regardless of SOGI with the active engagement of the LGBTIQ community.
* Depathologize SOGI and promote psychosocial well-being of people of diverse SOGI in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, and ensure equal access to health and social services.

We will not be silenced by prejudice. For a people-centered ASEAN, LGBTIQ rights now!

The ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus:

1. Arus pelangi (Indonesia )
2. Ardhanary Institute (Indonesia)
3. APTN/ APNSW (Malaysia)
4. EFFORT (Indonesia)
5. Gessang (Indonesia)
6. ISEE (Vietnam)
7. Youth dream (Vietnam)
8. Gaya Nusantara (Indonesia)
9. Violet Grey (Indonesia)
10. IWAMA (Indonesia)
11. Seksualiti Merdeka (Malaysia)
12. Justice for Sisters (Malaysia)
13. Human Rights education institute of Burma (Burma)
14. PLU-satu hati (Indonesia)
15. ICS (Vietnam)
16. AngLadlad (Philipina)
17. Kipas Makasar (Indonesia)
18. Perempuan Mahardhika (Indonesia)
19. Galaya Club (Thailand)
20. SOGI Foundation (Thailand)
21. Rainbow community Kampuchea (Cambodia)
22. Galang (Philipine)
23. Oogachaga (Singapore)
24. Her lounge (Indonesia)
25. FKWI (Indonesia)
26. Komunitas sehati Makasar (Indonesia)
27. For SOGI (Thailand)
28. GWL – Ina (Indonesia)
29. Q-munity (Indonesia)

—————————————–

[1] Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

[2] Go to http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org to read the 29 principles

Source: http://aseancivilsociety.net

[In the news]Set up ‘social-protection fund,’ ASEAN members urged – Interaksyon.com

Set up ‘social-protection fund,’ ASEAN members urged – Interaksyon.com.

by

JAKARTA – Civil society groups and various nongovernmental organizations will ask heads of state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to set up a “social-protection fund” for the region.

Il Cheong Yi Il, research coordinator of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, said member-countries of ASEAN ideally should contribute at least two percent of their gross domestic product annually to cover various social-protection programs.

“This is protection based not on charity but on human rights as stated in the respective constitutions of the ASEAN member-states,” Il said in an interview after the conclusion of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum here on Friday.

Read full article @ InterAksyon.com