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APSOC Condemns Restrictions on ASEAN Civil Society Conference-ASEAN Peoples Forum 2012 in Cambodia

By Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition  •  April 2, 2012

The Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) along with its allied regional networks strongly condemns the restrictions imposed on an independent civil society gathering in Cambodia this week in the run-up to the ___ ASEAN summit.

Four workshops at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples Forum 2012 (ACSC/APF) who were to discuss the theme “Transforming ASEAN into a People-Centered Community!” were forcibly stopped by the Lucky Star Hotel management who were apparently under pressure from government authorities were they were staying.  The workshops were to discuss land rights, migrant rights and current situation in Burma/Myanmar- were ironically its government is trying to convince the world that they are on an irreversible path to reform.

These workshops are about the following topics– “Expansion of Mono-Culture Plantations in ASEAN: Impacts to forest, farmlands and people’s livelihood”, “Promote and Protect Rights to Land, territory, Natural Resources and Development of Indigenous Peoples/Ethnic Minorities”, “Regional Workshop on Land Rights and Eviction”, and “Promoting Regional Cooperation to Ensure a People-Centered ASEAN in 2014 in Burma/Myanmar”.  All four workshops were perceived by Cambodian government to be sensitive and very political in nature in that the hotel was apparently warned not to allow the discussion of such topics within its premises.  The conference was forced to move the four workshops to another venue to allow the civil society representatives to continue the deliberations on these very important topics that affect sectors and citizens in the ASEAN and some local Cambodian communities. They were however also stopped by the Cambodian police.

The Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) reiterated its unwavering support to the ACSC/APF in asserting the independence, freedom of expression and integrity of civil society processes and allow the deliberations of important issues among its affected constituencies.  It condemns the attempts at any form of curtailment of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

If ASEAN is indeed serious in its claims to have embarked on a road to reform and democracy, it should also condemn this affront to their civil society and call on the Cambodian government to explain and make amends. Nothing less will do.

Signed:

Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
People Empowerment Foundation
Burma Partnership
ALTSEAN-Burma

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This post is in: ASEAN, Press Release

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