Organisers of the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) 2015, the largest civil society gathering in the region, have expressed serious concerns about recent and on-going attacks on human rights defenders across ASEAN.
ASEAN civil society decries attacks on human rights defenders; encourages registration for ACSC / APF 2015
Press release, 14 March 2015
PETALING JAYA. Organisers of the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) 2015, the largest civil society gathering in the region, have expressed serious concerns about recent and on-going attacks on human rights defenders across ASEAN.
Gus Miclat of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) noted his concern on the recent arrest of more than a hundred protestors, including students, in Myanmar.
“The students were merely asserting their basic rights to expression and assembly. Instead of listening, the government arrested them,” said Miclat, a member of the APF 2015 Regional Steering Committee.
“Many have hoped that the opening up of Myanmar would lead to improvements in human rights. This is another incident that sadly illustrates the contrary,” said Dr. May Shi Sho of one Myanmar NGO. Dr. May is also a member of the Regional Steering Committee of APF 2015.
“Unfortunately, crackdowns like this are cross-cutting concerns among ASEAN countries,” said Jerald Joseph of Pusat Komas, who is the Chair of the APF 2015.
“In Malaysia over the past few months, we have seen wave after wave of investigations, arrests, and criminal charges against activists and political opposition. The draconian Sedition Act has been used to silence any form of threat to the government,” he added.
Mugiyanto, of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, added, “Last month, Indra Pelani, a farmer and land rights activist from Indonesia, was murdered.” Pelani had been shot, seemingly by security guards of a subsidiary company of Asia Pulp and Paper.
Mugiyanto added, “There are numerous cases where human rights defenders have just disappeared. Somchai Neelapaijit in Thailand, Sombath Somphone in Laos, and Jonas Burgos in the Philippines—where are they?”
“We are observing, across ASEAN countries, that there is dangerous negation of democratic processes. This is one of the key issues we highlight in our APF 2015 Statement,” said Joseph.
The APF 2015 statement, entitled “Reclaiming the ASEAN community for the people”, highlights key regional concerns including: “democratic processes, governance and fundamental rights and freedoms.”
ASEAN governments officially received the statement from APF 2015 last month. Subsequently, the APF 2015 organising committee held several meetings to discuss the statement with ASEAN officials, including Dr. AKP Mochtan, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, and Shafee Abdullah, Malaysia’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
The ACSC/APF 2015 will be held on 21-24 April 2015, at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur.
Source : aseanpeople.org
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How to Support The Campaign
Registration is open for local and national NGOs, regional groups, international NGOs, embassies, and international institutions. Members of the public are also welcome to register and attend APF 2015. Registration can be done at www.aseanpeople.org/register