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The Rocky Road to Interface

By Representatives of ACSC/APF 2011  •  May 7, 2011

As of 1.30 p.m. on 7th of May 2011, the struggle to establish a genuine and meaningful dialogue between Civil Society and ASEAN’s Heads of Government at 4.00 p.m. today remains a stark and troubling reality. Up until 3.30 a.m. this morning (7th May 2011), the country delegates representing the peoples of ASEAN through the ACSC/APF process were still not given clear and official indication that the leaders will respect the rights of civil society from individual countries and ASEAN as a whole, to choose their representatives. The government of Thailand had not only failed to provide official confirmation accepting Ms. Sureeporn Yupa, who was selected through the national  process, but had apparently appointed their own representative to fill in the CSO seat of Thailand at this Informal Meeting. The delegates also observed that a Myanmar police colonel had been given a security pass to attend this Informal Meeting. This is in clear defiance of mutually-agreed guidelines (between government & civil society) and consistent reminders by ALL ASEANCSO representatives.

To reiterate the stand point of CSOs, representing people’s struggle in the region, the CSOs involved in ACSC/APF sent a letter to the CPR representatives of Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand asking them to confirm by 11.00 a.m. on the 7th of May 2011, that they will respect our right to choose our own delegates, failing which, we will not proceed with this Informal Meeting.

At 6.30 a.m. today, a Thai government representative responded to the letter in a phone call to Thailand’s CSO representative stating that they will respect Ms. Sureephorn’s appointment as the rightful CSO delegate at the Informal Meeting. By the 11.00 a.m. deadline, however, the Myanmar government had yet to provide an official statement saying that they will not appoint anyone to represent the CSOs of Myanmar.

Although our deadline was not met, the CSO interface committee, by noon, agreed to deliver the urgent concerns of the peoples of ASEAN, and to engage with State leaders in the Informal Meeting. The interface committee made this decision as we felt that it was critical we convey directly to the ASEAN leaders, our condemnation of this flawed and deceitful process, which undermines the good faith and credibility of ASEAN and its public commitments to a people-oriented regional community.

The delivered message in the interface at 15.45pm today will focus on the willingness of CSOs to have a dialogue with the ASEAN leaders, but at the same time, also condemn their negligence to respond in a timely fashion, to valid and serious concerns. We also intend to condemn the way in which the Myanmar government has been trying to sabotage the process. Further we call on ASEAN governments to actively discourage the government of Myanmar and any other ASEAN state that has been trying to undermine the regional community from continuing this sabotage.

Read the full statement here.

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This post is in: ASEAN, Press Release

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