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Statement of the Solidarity for Asian Peoples Advocacy (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN

Conveners: South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA) and the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN Burma) !arch "#$ "%&' After years of stru((les and cam)ai(nin( for democracy$ human ri(hts and )eo)les* )artici)ation in Burma$ we welcome the sta(in( of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference + ASEAN ,eo)les -orum "%&'$ .ointly or(ani/ed 0y the civil society in Burma$ the 0order or(ani/ations and Southeast Asian civil society or(ani/ations$ in this one closed society1 !ore than two thousand )eo)les from Burma and all over the re(ion had come to(ether to raise issues that matter to all of us1 2ho would have thou(ht that this was )ossi0le four years after the dramatic o)enin( of the country3 4ndeed$ this is a very historic occasion for all of us and we a))reciate very much this o))ortunity that we had fou(ht so hard for1 The ACSC+A,- "%&'$ more im)ortantly$ is a sym0ol of the Burmese civil society*s trium)h a(ainst adversity and years of a0use under the former military re(ime1 Now$ they have a 0i((er )latform to e5)ress to the whole world their continuin( stru((le for (enuine democracy$ trans)arency and accounta0ility in their country$ and to stand in solidarity with the rest of the )eo)les of the re(ion 6owever$ in the face of the continuin( attacks on )eo)les* freedoms and human ri(hts 0y some mem0er (overnments of ASEAN as well as the dreaded economic inte(ration in "%&7$ we need to 0e more vi(ilant and to continue our work for the 0enefit of the mar(inali/ed )eo)les and communities around the re(ion1 The enforced disa))earances of Som0ath Som)hone$ 8onas Bur(os and Somchai and do/ens of Southeast Asian activists hi(hli(ht ASEAN*s insincerity in )rotectin( the human ri(hts of its )eo)les1 4ts failure to meanin(fully res)ond to these cases is immoral and un.ust$ es)ecially to the families of the victims1 -or the nth time$ we stron(ly ur(e ASEAN to instruct its re)resentatives in the re(ional human ri(hts 0ody$ A4C69$ to investi(ate these cases and formulate recommendations that will )unish the )er)etrators and eliminate cases of enforced disa))earances1 The true test of the le(itimacy of A4C69 and ASEAN*s commitment to human ri(hts is when they finally act on these cases and hel) in the elimination of ri(hts a0uses in the re(ion1 !eanwhile$ the recent )olitical and social u)heavals in Cam0odia$ !alaysia and Thailand and the hi(hhanded res)onses of the (overnments show that democratic recession is ha))enin( in the re(ion1 4t is :uite ironic that as ASEAN trum)ets its ;achievements* and marches towards economic inte(ration$ it 0ack)edals on )eo)les* ri(hts and fundamental freedoms1 2e are concerned that more re)ression will increase as we a))roach "%&71 2e reiterate that the current economic (rowth model of some ASEAN mem0er states$ which is e5)ort oriented and heavily de)endent on resource e5traction is not sustaina0le and very e5)loitative and im)acts ne(atively on )eo)les* lives and livelihood1 2e call on ASEAN to ensure that social )rotections are )rovided to our )eo)les1 4ncrease in trade and investment must not mean a rise in ri(hts a0uses1 -inally$ as we discuss various issues in this year*s ACSC+A,- "%&'s$ we continue to raise alarm over the de)lora0le situation of the 9ohin(ya )eo)le in this country1 2e still 0elieve that the (overnment in Nay,i<yaw fails to stem the a0uses committed a(ainst these )eo)le1 2e fear that (overnment*s inade:uate res)onse to the )li(ht of the 9ohin(yas will unnecessarily radicali/e them and this will ne(atively im)act the country*s transition .ourney1 Nay,i<yaw and ASEAN should do more to )rotect the

ri(hts of the 9ohin(yas and ensure that violence is sto))ed once and for all1 -or us$ inaction means com)licity1 4t will only )rove our sus)icion that the (overnment is insincere in )romotin( human ri(hts for all its )eo)les$ and )uts cloud over its reform a(enda1 The dream of a truly )eo)le centered ASEAN will remain to 0e elusive and unattaina0le if ASEAN and its mem0er (overnment continue to )ay li) service on the issue of human ri(hts and )eo)les* )artici)ation1 -or more information and interviews: Debbie Stothard, Co-Convener, SAPA Working Group on ASEAN, Tel +66 !6 6!6"# Corinna $opa, Co-Convener, SAPA Working Group on ASEAN, Tel +6%&' 6(&6&"