Greetings from Taipei, where we (hopefully) have finally finished the long typhoon season, which was so disastrous for many countries this year. Of course, the work for democracy never ceases!
2009 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award
The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy announced today the winner of the 2009 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award: Mr. Kim Seoung Min, founder of Free North Korean Radio. The Award Ceremony will be held on 10 December 2009 in Taipei.
World Survey of Democracy Assistance
The World Movement for Democracy is conducting an assessment of democracy assistance programs in roughly 80 countries. After more than two decades of assisting transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule, the international community needs to hear from people like you to guide its future efforts to advance democracy around the world: What forms of democratic assistance have been most effective in the past? How might the international community better calibrate its programs of democracy assistance to address current needs and realities?
The findings from the survey will be presented at the next Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, to be held in Jakarta in April 2010. Visit this link to take the survey.
Call for Internship Program for 2010
The May 18 Memorial Foundation calls for applications to the 2010 International Internship Program. It is their way to inspire young human rights activists to learn from the example of the heroes of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising and in the process help spread such spirit and ideals to Asia. You can find more information here.
Finally, we very much welcome items for future editions, please send those to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 23 October 2009, the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN presided over the Inaugural Ceremony of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to pledge full support to this new ASEAN body and emphasize their commitment to further develop cooperation to promote and protect human rights in the region. The establishment of the AICHR is yet another significant milestone in the evolution of ASEAN as it provides the concrete expression of Article 14 of the ASEAN Charter and ASEAN’s commitment to build a more people oriented ASEAN Community. It is also the first intergovernmental organization dedicated to human rights in Asia. Although many civil society partners are not satisfied with the mandate of the organization, it is hoped that, as it becomes operational, the body will grow into an effective body.
Civil society representatives rejected from interface meeting with ASEAN leaders
Thai foreign Ministry officials informed organizers of APF (ASEAN Peoples Forum) that 5 out of 10 civil society representatives were rejected from the interface meeting with ASEAN heads of government. These representatives were instructed that they would not be permitted to speak at the event. The AFP was deeply disappointed at the irresponsibility and apparent irrationality of the governments' position, stating: “At this time of crisis, we were absolutely committed to an opportunity to present civil society's solutions. The tactics of the governments concerned prove they are not open to discussing solutions to the urgent problems confronting ASEAN - both governments and peoples.” Find more information here.
IID Challenges ASEAN
The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), an advocacy and solidarity regional network which is a WFDA Steering Committee member, challenges the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come up with mechanisms to address conflicts within states. IID is pushing for a more pro-active ASEAN in the prevention of internal state conflicts in the region’s conflict affected areas like Southern Mindanao in the Philippines, Bandah Aceh and Papua in Indonesia. The IID notes that ASEAN has been absent in conflicts which have bedeviled many countries in the region.
Open Letter to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State
Civil society groups from Burma and Asia have issued an open letter to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell on the eve of his “fact-finding” trip to Burma, urging the U.S. to remain firm in its efforts to support genuine democratization and national reconciliation in the country.
On October 30 2009 Altsean issued a briefing paper describing how the Burmese junta’s proposed 2010 elections, the first step in activating the 2008 constitution, will have disastrous impacts on Burma and the region.
Denouncement by Sam Rainsy Party
The Sam Rainsy Party strongly denounces the ruling of the Appeal Court on October 28, which upheld the defamation conviction of MP Mu Sochua. The Court’s decision confirms that there is no rule of law in Cambodia when a person dares to challenge the government, since such manipulation of the judiciary to silence critics is a serious attack of people’s rights under the Constitution and international law. Find the full article here.
RSF statement on internet access for Uyghurs
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued an urgent press release. RSF has surveyed access to websites dedicated to the Uyghur community, including sites in the Uyghur language, in Mandarin and sometimes in English. These sites, operated by Uyghurs for Uyghurs, are for the most part inaccessible both to Internet users based in Xinjiang and those abroad. More than 85 per cent of the surveyed sites were blocked, censored or otherwise unreachable.
Open letter to Hu Jintao about Burma gas project
115 civil society organizations and political parties from 20 countries today submitted an open letter to China’s President Hu Jintao calling for the suspension of oil and gas pipelines through Burma in order to prevent rights abuses and regional instability, avoiding financial and image risks to China.
MLDH statement on recent arrests
The Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l'Homme (MLDH) issued a press release claiming on November 2 2009 more than 300 people who were preparing a protest to call for human rights and a multipartite system have been arrested by the secret police.
Arrest by Chinese police in Ulaan Bataar
From Radio Free Asia (RFA) comes the following article: The head of a medical college from the northern city of Ormos, in China's Inner Mongolia, has been arrested by Chinese and Mongolian police in Ulaan Bataar as he came out of the UN office where he was applying for asylum, sparking calls for greater protection for asylum-seekers in third countries.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has received confirmed information from reliable sources that Lobsang Gyaltsen, Loyak, Penkyi and an unnamed Tibetan were executed on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 under the supervision of the Lhasa Municipality Intermediate People's Court for their alleged involvement in last year's mass protest in the Tibetan capital.