Tag Archives: Regional

[Statement] Burmese government urged to cease the assault and arrest of students protesting in Letpadan and Rangoon

10 March 2015

Burmese government urged to cease the assault and arrest of students protesting in Letpadan and Rangoon

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn the latest instance of brutal and indiscriminate assault by the police and vigilante groups against the students, monks, and residents in Letpadan who have been peacefully exercising their civil and political rights. We further call on the Burmese government to immediately stop the violent attacks, harassment, and arrest of students peacefully protesting against the National Education Law, which centralizes power over the education system, hampers academic freedom, and was approved without proper public consultation.

Since 20 January, hundreds of students have been marching from Mandalay to Rangoon to demand changes to the National Education Law, passed by Parliament in September 2014. The students’ 11 demands for changes to the law include ensuring the freedom to form student unions, mother-tongue language instruction in ethnic areas, greater autonomy for universities, and the allocation of 20% of the national budget to education.

On 2 March, students resumed their protests after the government failed to meet their demands to amend the law by 28 February. A group of students in Letpadan, Pegu Division, were subsequently blocked at a monastery and prevented from marching to Rangoon. In a show of solidarity, students and other supporters in Rangoon and other parts of the country also held peaceful protests at the beginning of March.

On 5 March, police in Rangoon violently cracked down on students peacefully protesting in front of Rangoon City Hall, injuring several and arresting eight protesters, including women’s rights activist Nilar Thein. On the morning of 6 March, police in Letpadan also violently dispersed the student demonstrators held near a monastery and their supporters. Police arrested five students. These detained protesters have since been released.

On 10 March, after the protesters in Letpadan were initially allowed to go to Rangoon, police and members of vigilante groups surrounded the peaceful and unarmed protesters and proceeded to brutally attack them. Injured students, monks, and Letpadan residents who had gathered to express their support were then taken away by the police.

We strongly condemn the use of excessive force and violence against the peaceful protesters by the police.[1] The government must take responsibility for the unlawful and aggressive actions of its security forces against the peaceful protesters. These aggressive actions are reminiscent of the tactics of past military regimes that have been infamous in using lethal violence against students and crushing any form of dissent. Of particular concern is the cooperation between police forces and vigilante groups, who participated in the crackdown and used excessive force against these young women and men.

If President Thein Sein is serious about making educational reform one of the priority measures of his government, it is in his interest to take an inclusive approach by having a dialogue with the students, including leaders of the National Network for Education Reform (NNER) and other student groups in the formulation of education policy.

The violent crackdowns against student protesters further intensifies the backslide on the government’s efforts to transition to full democracy and reveals the government’s continuing reliance on repressive actions. They substantiate the critique that the Burmese government is merely putting up a façade of democratic reform for the sake of gaining political legitimacy and economic engagement from the international community.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Burmese government to:

–  immediately cease and desist using excessive force and violence against the peacefully protesting students, monks, activists  and residents and ensure that security forces exercise the highest degree of restraint in any interactions with the protesters  who are exercising their civil and political rights.

–  continue to hold the next hearing sessions for the draft law amending the National Education Law with the representatives of the diverse student movement, including those from ethnic and religious minorities, and to provide the students with an effective avenue to voice their concerns and propose solutions on these matters.

–  prevent any actions that violently repress the right of the students to be heard on issues that directly affect them. This includes protecting the students from the violent actions of vigilante groups that have been harassing them. We condemn the Letpadan police’s threat of using the provisions of the Peaceful Assembly Law against the right of the student demonstrators to freedom of speech, and peaceful assembly.[2]

–  investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the violence, and institutionalize nationwide measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents.

–  drop all charges against the arrested students, and unconditionally free any students still in detention.

–  amend without delay the National Education Law in line with students’ demands to ensure authentic educational reforms that address the needs and concerns of the stakeholders.

Signatories:

1.   Action Committee for Democracy Development, Burma/Myanmar
2.   Actions Birmanie , Belgium
3.   Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh
4.   All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress, Burma/Myanmar
5.   Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
6.   Article 19
7.   ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
8.   ASEAN Sogie Caucus
9.   Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
10.  Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
11.  Assistant Association for Political Prisoners, Burma
12.  Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, Burma/Myanmar
13.  Association Suisse-Birmanie, Switzerland
14.  Ayerwaddy Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
15.  Backpack Health Worker Team, Burma/Myanmar
16.  Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, India
17.  Burma Action Ireland
18.  Burma Campaign UK
19.  Burma Issues, Thailand
20.  Burma Link, UK
21.  Burma Medical Association
22.  Burma Partnership
23.  Burma-Initiative, Stiftung Asienhaus, Germany
24.  Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
25.  Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association- ADHOC , Cambodia
26.  Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
27.  Child Rights Coalition  Asia
28.  Chin State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
29.  Christian Solidarity Worldwide
30.  Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization, Myanmar
31.  Civil Rights Defender
32.  Coalition for Refugees from Burma (USA)
33.  Colorful Girls, Burma/Myanmar
34.  Directorio Democratico Cubano (Cuba)
35.  Empower Foundation Thailand
36.  Forum for Democracy in Burma
37.  Free Burma Campaign, South Africa
38.  Globe International Center, Mongolia
39.  HAK Association, Timor Leste
40.  Hong Kong Coalition for a Free Burma
41.  Hong Kong Committee for Children’s Rights
42.  Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, Burma/Myanmar
43.  Human Rights Foundation of Monland, Burma/Myanmar
44.  Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
45.  Imparsial, Indonesia
46.  Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Indonesia
47.  Info Birmanie (France)
48.  Interfaith Cooperation Forum
49.  International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), France
50.  Just Associates Southeast Asia
51.  Justice for Women, Burma/Myanmar
52.  Kachin Peace Network, Burma/Myanmar
53.  Kachin State Women Network, Burma/Myanmar
54.  Kachin State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
55.  Kachin Women Peace Network, Burma/Myanmar
56.  Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
57.  Karen Community of Canada
58.  Karen Human Rights Group, Thailand
59.  Karen Women Organization, Thailand
60.  Karenni National Women’s Organization
61.  Kayan New Generation Youth, Burma/Myanmar
62.  Knights for Peace International, Philippines
63.  KontraS, Indonesia
64.  Lanna Action for Burma, Thailand
65.  Law and Society Trust (LST), Sri Lanka
66.  Magway Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
67.  Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture, Malaysia
68.  Mandalay Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
69.  MARUAH, Singapore
70.  Migrant Forum in Asia
71.  Mindanao Action Group for Children’s Rights & Protection, Philippines
72.  Mon State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
73.  Myanmar ICT for Development Organization
74.  National Youth Congress , Myanmar
75.  Natural Resources Accountability Myanmar
76.  Network for Democracy and Development, Burma
77.  Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma
78.  Norwegian Burma Committee
79.  Pago Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
80.  Palaung Women’s Organization, Burma/Myanmar
81.  Panzagar , Myanmar
82.  People’s Empowerment Foundation, Thailand
83.  People’s Watch, India
84.  People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
85.  Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, India
86.  Pergerakan Indonesia, Indonesia
87.  Philippine Alliance for Human Rights Advocates
88.  PILIPINA Legal Resources Center, Philippines
89.  Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), Pakistan
90.  Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, India
91.  Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia
92.  Radanar Ayar Rural Development Association, Myanmar
93.  Rakhine State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
94.  Right to Know Campaign, South Africa
95.  SAARC Youth Association
96.  Sagaing Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
97.  Shan State Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
98.  Shwe Gas Movement, Burma/Myanmar
99.  Society for Threatened Peoples, Germany
100. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy
101.  Students and Youth Congress of Burma
102.  Suara Rakyat Malaysia
103.  Swedish Burma Committee
104.  Taiwan Association for Human Rights
105.  Taiwan Free Burma Network
106.  Tanintharyi Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
107.  Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
108.  Tavoy Women’s Union, Burma/Myanmar
109.  Tavoy Youth Organization, Burma/Myanmar
110.  Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma, Thailand
111.  Thai Volunteer Service Foundation
112.  The Life Skills Development Foundation
113.  The Seagull, Myanmar
114.  Think Centre, Singapore
115.  Union of Karenni State Youth, Burma/Myanmar
116.  US Campaign for Burma
117.  Vietnam Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights
118.  Voluntary Internship Program, Myanmar
119.  William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com, UK
120.  Women Peace Network Arakan, Burma/Myanmar
121.  Women’s League of Burma
122.  World Merit, Myanmar
123.  World Student Christian Federation – Asia Pacific
124.  Yangon Youth Network, Burma/Myanmar
125.  Yayasan LINTAS NUSA Batam, Indonesia
126.  Yayasan SEJIWA,  Indonesia
127.  Zo Indigenous Forum, India

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[Featured Video] Let’s Protect Human Rights Defenders -Forum Asia

Let’s Protect Human Rights Defenders
ForumAsiaVideo

Published on Mar 10, 2015, youtube
The meaning of human rights would be lost if there was no one to speak about them and defend them wherever and whenever they are violated. In this sense, human rights defenders (HRDs) play a crucial role in monitoring and challenging human rights abuses and violations, contributing as well to the dissemination and safeguard of the core human rights principles.

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By standing up for the rights of others against powerful interests, HRDs and their families are often exposed to a wide range of risks and threats, with women human rights defenders facing specific risks.

In its new video FORUM-ASIA highlights the profile of HRDs in Asia and the challenges they face defending human rights, paying homage to their courage and stressing the need for greater protection.

For more information about Asian HRDs and their work, visit our website: http://asianhrds.forum-asia.org/

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[Announcement] Call for Applications: Finance Officer -AIPP

Call for Applications: Finance Officer

ASIA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES PACT (AIPP)
REGIONAL SECRETARIAT
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

AIPP

Position: Finance Officer
Section: Finance and Administration
Reports to: Finance Manager
Duration of the Contract: 1 year (including 6 months probation) with possibility of extension based on performance, Duty Station: AIPP Regional Secretariat in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level of Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Accounting

Date of Announcement: February 12,2015

Read more @iva.aippnet.org

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[Statement] On The fifth Congress of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)

The fifth Congress of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), held in Manila from 22-25 September and attended by participants from ten countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jammu and Kashmir in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Timor-Leste renewed its commitment to fight against impunity and build a world without disappearances.

AFAD

AFAD is strengthened by the solidarity messages of Mr. Ariel Dulitzky, Chair of the (UNWGEID) and Mr. Emmanuel Decaux, Chair of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance (UNCED) and friends from various regional and international organizations who recognized the significant contribution of AFAD in the fight against enforced disappearances in various ways.

In over 16 years of work, AFAD was able to contribute in the drafting and negotiation of the Convention Against Enforced Disappearances, campaigned for its signing and ratification resulting to the signing by the governments of Thailand and Indonesia. A domestic law criminalizing enforced disappearances was enacted in the Philippines in 2012 and Thailand and Nepal are in the process of drafting domestic laws.

However, the overall human rights situation in Asia demands more from AFAD.

Disappearances continue unabated especially in Afghanistan, China, Bangladesh, Jammu and Kashmir in India, Pakistan, Philippines, Syria, and Thailand (now under military rule). Draconian laws aimed to suppress dissent are instituted and extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions of its citizens are on the rise. In particular, the governments of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand are becoming more repressive, with the persecution of human rights defenders. Efforts of the international community to have an inquiry on war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka are met with denial and non-cooperation from the Sri Lankan government. Special rapporteurs have been refused invitations by the governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

In post conflict countries like Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Nepal, authorities have yet to prioritize deliverance of justice to victims of human rights violations and measures have not been taken to ensure non-repetition of the crimes. Victims remain excluded and their rights to reclaim their dignity, justice, truth and reparation are not respected.

Families of victims continue to endure the pain of uncertainty of the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones while they battle the daily challenge of meeting their economic, social and cultural needs heavily impacted by enforced disappearance. With their men as the direct victims, the traditionally docile and domesticated women are forced to take on the gargantuan tasks as breadwinner, nurturer, mother and father to their children while searching for the disappeared, silently bearing their inner psycho-emotional wounds. Some of them faced various forms of discrimination especially in highly patriarchal and caste-based societies.

As AFAD further consolidates itself to better hurdle these challenges, Congress participants are deeply concerned of the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders working against impunity in relation to the crimes of torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. It further calls on the UN Human Rights Council, UNWGEID, and the UNCED to exhaust all measures within their mandate to pressure Asian governments cited above to live up to their international human rights obligations and sign and ratify the Convention Against Enforced Disappearance.

In particular, it calls on:

(a) the new government of Indonesia to realize its campaign promise to resolve disappearance and other human rights cases of the past;
(b) the government of South Korea to immediately act on the plight of its citizens disappeared by North Korea;
(c) the Philippine government to implement its laudable law criminalizing enforced disappearance;
(d) the Timor-Leste government in cooperation with Indonesian government to prioritize the establishment of the enforced disappearance commission recommended by the Commission for Truth and Friendship;
e) the Nepali government to abolish amnesty provisions in its Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act and to bring it in line with international standards;
(f) the government of Thailand to ratify the Convention and investigate the cases of enforced disappearances;
(g) for the government of Bangladesh to withdraw the cases instituted against human rights defenders and cease restrictions on civil society organizations;
(h) end hostilities and impunity in Jammu and Kashmir and allow credible investigations into cases of enforced disappearances;
(i) to revoke newly passed laws of impunity providing legal cover to perpetrators of enforced disappearances in Pakistan, and;
(j) end various repressive measures instituted by the government of Sri Lanka against the human rights defenders.

Congress participants return home mindful of the wisdom imparted by friends from Latin America. They bring home their message that achieving a world without disappearances is only possible if it becomes a concern of society and embraced by its peoples. AFAD will expand to other countries in Asia and will continue the struggle despite immense difficulties and challenges and will remain hopeful because “losing hope is the most criminal act” according to esteemed human rights defender Señor Roberto Garreton from Chile.

Signed by:

Odhikar (Bangladesh)
KontraS (The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence,(Indonesia)
IKOHI (Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared, Indonesia)
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (Jammu and Kashmir, India)
Advocacy Forum (Nepal)
Conflict Victims’ Society of Justice (Nepal)
Defence of Human Rights and Public Service Trust (Pakistan)
Families of the Disappeared (Sri Lanka)
Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (South Korea)
Justice for Peace Foundation (Thailand)
Asosiasaun HAK (Timor-Leste)

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

Telefax: 00-632-4546759
Mobile: (63)917-792-4058
Website: http://www.afad-online.org

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[Press Release] The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus’ Affirms ‘We Are #ASEANtoo’

The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus’ Affirms ‘We Are #ASEANtoo’ & Calls States And People to Support Inclusion of SOGIE in the ASEAN

QT FB
March 13, 2014 – The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC) yesterday launched its ‘We are #ASEANtoo’ campaign on its social media sites in the lead up to the ASEAN People’s Forum that will take place in Burma from 21 to 23 March 2014. The social media campaign calls online users to show their support for the inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) in the ASEAN by using the hashtag #ASEANtoo as they send supportive tweets and Instagrams.

ASEAN SOGIE CAUCUS SMALL

In addition, the ASC released a summary of laws that discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans*, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) persons in the ASEAN. This is accompanied by online posters of the ASC’s recommendations to the ASEAN to promote and protect the rights of LGBTIQ persons. The posters can be found in eight major languages used in the ASEAN – Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Khmer, Malay, Tamil, Thai, and Vietnamese. The full recommendations can be found on the website.

“The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness regarding the ASC’s recommendations, which address some of the pressing issues concerning LGBTIQ persons in the ASEAN. The ASC calls the government of all ASEAN countries to repeal laws that discriminate against LGBTIQ persons and to comply with human rights standards, establish national level ASEAN mechanisms and review existing human rights instruments, and depathologize SOGIE,” said Hla Myat Tun, of Colors of Rainbow, Myanmar.

Chumaporn Taengkliang, Togetherness for Equality Action Group (TEA group), Thailand further added, “Each country in the ASEAN has laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, contrary to their constitutions that guarantee fundamental rights and liberties for all. Meanwhile, state sanctioned violence continues unchecked. In such environments, we face barriers from fully enjoying our fundamental rights, accessing services, and living a fulfilling and meaningful life without fear, shame and guilt.”

“Many LGBTIQ persons are denied our right to health when SOGIE is still pathologized. To date, trangenderism or gender dysphoria is still listed as a form of mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Homosexuality, on the other hand, was removed from the DSM in 1986, but many continue to believe that it is a mental illness. The assumption that SOGIE is a mental illness leads to attempts to cure us. This violates our fundamental liberties and takes away our personal autonomy. In addition, corrective programmes have been proven ineffective, and actually negatively scar LGBTIQ persons,” explained Yulianus Rettoblaut the Chairperson of Indonesia Transwomen Communication Forum.

With this campaign, ASC aims to create a positive environment where diversity and choice are respected, where people can all co-exist in dignity and humanity.  In view of that, we call LGBTIQ persons and allies to post ‘selfies’ or photos of themselves with apps like Instagram, using the hashtag #ASEANtoo to show your support for the inclusion of SOGIE in the ASEAN.

The ASC will also host a series of ‘Queer tweets’ on the 13, 14 and 15th March 2014 with three different topics every day. We shall cover the basics on the first day, the trends and challenges on day two, finally, positive developments in relation to SOGIE in the ASEAN on day three.

ASC website: http://aseansogie.wordpress.com/

Media contacts:
thilaga sulathireh thilaga.sulathireh@gmail.com |Ging Cristobal gcristobal@iglhrc.org |Jean Chong jean@sayoni.com
Media release
March 13, 2014
For immediate release

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