APHR urges Indonesia as ASEAN Chair to lead in improving human rights, democracy, climate protection in the region


APHR urges Indonesia as ASEAN Chair to lead in improving human rights, democracy, climate protection in the region

We, Southeast Asian parliamentarians from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), are alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation in the region,

Recognizing the unique and significant role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote regional peace and stability through respect for justice and rule of law,

Underscoring with urgent concern the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Myanmar with over one-million people displaced since the coup on 1 February 2021;

Drawing urgent attention to the unabated crimes against humanity, war crimes, conflict-related sexual violence, impunity perpetrated by the armed forces of Myanmar’s military junta;

Noting with concern the increasing attacks against freedoms of expression, association, and assembly and the alarming shrinking civic space in Southeast Asia;

Recognizing that elections have become the tools of authoritarian leaders to consolidate their power undermining elections as one of the core pillars of democracy; 

Expressing continued concern over Hun Sen’s constant and intensified repression of the opposition, civil society activists, and independent media through intimidation, physical violence, and politically motivated prosecutions;

Concerned over the Cambodian government’s abuse of power to prevent opposition parties from contesting in the upcoming July 2023 Elections;

Recognizing the significant risks and challenges faced by parliamentarians and human rights defenders in Southeast Asia;

Highlighting the increasing intimidation and harassment that parliamentarians and human rights defenders received in association with their status or work in upholding human rights;

Noting the lack of adequate protection, including under the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, and the prevailing culture of impunity for perpetrators of abuses against human rights defenders; 

Raising concern over the persistent discrimination, persecution, and denial of basic rights based on faith, exemplified by the ongoing plight of the Rohingya community;

Highlighting the prevalence of problematic legislations, such as blasphemy laws, that fuel tensions and conflicts and undermine freedom of religion or belief;

Observing the alarming rise of hate speech, hate campaigns, and the divisive rhetoric propagated by influential figures, including religious leaders, politicians, and educators, which target ethnic and religious minorities, exacerbated by the influence of social media;

Acknowledging the high vulnerability of ASEAN nations to the adverse impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and loss of biodiversity;

Noting that the  potential scale of devastation in ASEAN member states caused by the unmitigated carbon emission and rising global temperatures;

Recognizing the continuing dependence of most ASEAN states to fossil fuel and the slow progress in just energy transition;

Recognizing that gender inequalities exacerbate the the vulnerability of women to climate change impacts;

Noting the agreement in principle between ASEAN member states to admit Timor-Leste into ASEAN;

Building on Indonesia’s recent statement of support for Timor-Leste’s membership in ASEAN;

Do hereby agree to:

Urge Indonesia as Chair of ASEAN to take the lead in the region and mobilize all its member countries and ASEAN instrumentalities to take more proactive and decisive steps to address most urgent human rights concerns in the regions. Specifically:

In responding to the Myanmar Crisis

  • Initiate an inclusive review of the five-point consensus and make recommendations put forward by civil society organizations, including applying pressure to the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution on Myanmar under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. 
  • Liaise and coordinate with more vital pro-democracy allies and ASEAN dialogue partners such as the European Union, Canada, United States of America (USA), Australia, and New Zealand to counter Thailand talking with the Mekong River countries and China and India, and further express concern about Thailand’s ‘Track 1.5’ meetings.
  • Advocate for the immediate facilitation of cross-border assistance to meet the many growing needs of internally displaced people who urgently need food, shelter, water and medicine.
  • Declare that the junta sponsored ‘elections’ set to take place in 2024 in Myanmar are not legitimate and thus should not be endorsed nor considered free and fair.
  • Support calls from civil society organizations and ethnic revolution organizations for federalism and gender equality to be a strong pillar in Myanmar’s roadmap to freedom and democracy. Thus far, there has been a sincere lack of political will to discuss strategic women’s engagement. 
  • Recognize the suffering of Myanmar’s many ethnic people, including the long-persecuted Rohingya, who continue to face systematic violence. A comprehensive and coordinated approach rooted in humanitarian principles must be established to ensure that preserving their humanity is a collective approach.

In championing the restoration democratic rights of Cambodians

  • Condemn the Cambodian government’s efforts to undermine democratic institutions, including physical and legal violence towards human rights defenders, opposition members, and civil society,  as well as the disqualification of the opposition from contesting in the elections, and the banning of independent media outlet Voice of Democracy.
  • Pressure the Cambodian government to ensure an inclusive, free and fair electoral process, in full respect of human rights, including rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression for all political actors, civil society, and voters.
  • Urge Cambodia to unconditionally release all political prisoners from detention, put an end to all harassment and prosecution of political opponents, and to ensure full respect for human rights, including the right to a fair trial and full participation in the conduct of political affairs.
  • Call on ASEAN Member States and the international community to refuse to accord legitimacy to July elections and take stronger actions towards Hun Sen’s efforts to solidify his dictatorship.

In advancing for an ASEAN Regional Human Rights Defenders’ Mechanism 

  • Urge ASEAN and ASEAN Member States to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to the harassment and violent acts against human rights defenders and to take all necessary measures to promote and uphold the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders; 
  • Push ASEAN to work towards the development and implementation of a regional framework or mechanism on the protection of human rights defenders against all forms of violence, threats, retaliation, or any other arbitrary actions in association with their status or work, and to include such mechanism under the ASEAN Charter;
  • Urge ASEAN Member States to take legislative, judicial, administrative or other appropriate measures at national levels to facilitate the work of and to protect human rights defenders from any form of reprisals in association with their status or work as human rights defenders;
  • Encourage ASEAN to strengthen the mandate of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights to provide emergency protection for human rights defenders and to regularly review the progress made by ASEAN Member States in implementing measures to protect human rights defenders, including through the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism to assess the situation and identify areas for improvement.

In the protecting Freedom of Religion and Belief

  • Cease all violence and persecution against minority groups and release all prisoners of conscience who have been detained merely for peacefully expressing their beliefs.
  • Repeal or amend laws that infringe upon people’s freedom of religion and belief, including women and girls, ensuring compliance with international human rights standards.
  • Provide comprehensive remedies for victims of freedom of religion and belief violations and enhanced protection mechanisms for vulnerable groups at risk of victimization.
  • Encourage political leaders, religious leaders, and educators to actively promote peace, tolerance, and diversity, fostering social harmony in diverse ASEAN.
  • Support the establishment of an ASEAN mechanism to protect and advance freedom of religion and belief, setting standards, addressing abuses, and safeguarding individuals affected by these issues.

In addressing adverse impacts of Climate Change and Global Warming:

  • Mobilize ASEAN Member States to strengthen their commitment to the Paris agreement by enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in order keep the increase in the world’s temperatures to less than 1.5°C at the end of the century. In this way, we can attain a regional and global community where all, including future generations, are able to enjoy human rights without harm from climate change, pollution, deforestation, waste and environmental degradation.
  • Compel ASEAN member states to make just energy transition an  urgent priority of their governments by providing financial incentives to renewable energy systems and zero-emissions infrastructures and technologies in accordance with the objectives of the Paris agreements.
  • Advise ASEAN member states to promote investments in natural infrastructure and green spaces and prioritize government budget allocations on renewable energy, public transport, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and other key areas supportive of a low carbon economy to avert potential damages from climate-related disasters.
  • Press ASEAN member states to strengthen efforts to enforce human-rights based protection of forests,  in particular  with respect to indigenous rights and customary land rights. 
  • Lead in developing regional mechanisms to assist member states to restore degraded forests to reactivate their capacities to regulate ecosystems.
  • Strengthen cooperation and enforce a transboundary integrated approach among member states to improve ocean management by sharing best practices, monitoring marine pollution, harmonizing policies, and implementing joint activities.
  • Urge ASEAN member states to commit to gender-responsive Climate Policies, plans, and programs at all levels ensuring equal access to resources, including inclusion to to climate finance initiatives;
  • Drive member countries in the region to develop gender-responsive adaptation measures that are responsive to address the specific needs of women and of other marginalized genders.

In the Inclusion of Timor Leste as member of ASEAN

  • Expedite the admission of Timor-Leste as a member of ASEAN.
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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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