Foundation, AHRC hold Asian Human Rights Charter workshop in Indonesia

Nearly 30 human rights defenders from Asia attended the Asian Human Rights Charter Workshop held from December 11 to 13 at Jakarta, Indonesia. The workshop was organized by the May 18 Memorial Foundation and the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) held a workshop on the Asian Human Rights Charter (Right to Peace, Right to Culture, and Right to Justice) on December 11 to 13 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Nearly 30 participants from the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore attended the said workshop. 

The first day of the workshop kicked off with a welcoming speech and introduction by Ms. Hong Yoojung, International Coordinator of the Foundation’s International Affairs Department, and Mr. Lee Kwangsu, board member of the Foundation and lecturer of the Busan University of Foreign Studies. Mr. Avinash Pandy, Mr. Prakash Mohra, and Mr. Chris Biantoro, representatives of the AHRC, also gave their discussions on the workshop’s theme.

The rest of the workshop proceeded with the presentations of the participants regarding the human rights situation in their respective countries. Human rights defenders from Indonesia discussed the different human rights atrocities occurred during Indonesia’s turbulent history. 

Mr. Bedjo Untung of the YPKP 65 (Indonesian Institute of the 1965 Massacre) discussed the 1965 killings, where hundreds of thousands of alleged communist rebels and innocent civilians were tortured and slaughtered by authorities. 

Mr. Nur Kholis, former Chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights in Indonesia, lectured about Indonesia’s ratification of the international human rights instruments like the ICCPR and ICESCR. Other local speakers and participants include Anwar Sastro Ma’aruf (Confederation of Indonesian People’s Movement), Ms. Didi Dyah Rahayu (Sekber 65), Mr. Kabul Supaito (family victim of Talangsari Massacre), Mr. Hendra Saputra (KontraS Aceh), Mr. Yendra Budiana, Mr. Fajar Akbar, Ms. Era Purnama Sari, Mr. Haswandy Andimas, Ms. Zuma, and Mr. Eddy Sugionto. 

Mr. Chris Biantoro shares his observations about the lectures.


Meanwhile, the presentation of Mr. Bunly Soeung, lecturer at Svay Rieng University, focused on the state of the media and political participation under Hun Sen’s dictatorship. 

Ms. Nant Mon of the Gender and Development Institute in Myanmar tackled about the tight grip of the military in the country’s socio-political affairs and violence against ethnic minorities, including the severely-persecuted Rohingya people.

Ms. Aileen Diez-Bacalso of Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances and Mr. Rommel Yanzon of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates jointly tackled about the spate of extrajudicial killings, ethnic violence, and press repression in the Philippines under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte.

Ms. Punyanuch Thoungchaipiti and Ms. Variya Tappoweing of the Human Rights Lawyers Association elucidated about the military junta’s suppression of human rights defenders, the deficit of rule of law, and uncertainty of democratization in Thailand. The workshop’s final discussion was led by Mr. Sinapar Sangdorai, who elaborated on the democracy setbacks and prevailing inequality in Singapore.

Lastly, the workshop participants joined a protest on the 6th anniversary of the disappearance of Lao educator and community development worker Sombath Somphone. Mr. Somphone, a recipient of the Special Prize of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2015, was abducted from a police checkpoint in Vientiane back in 2012.

The Asian Human Rights Charter workshop is the fourth regional workshop co-organized by the Foundation this year, following successful regional workshops and meetings in Nepal, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. 

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