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Bloody hands on the Charter: Shame!

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Representatives of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy  (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN released press briefing on 19 November in Singapore in parallel to the 13th ASEAN Summit voicing their question on the legitimacy of the Charter drafting process. They also highlighted that the Charter lacks the mechanism to deal with Burma.
(19 November 2007, Singapore) Southeast Asian civil society representatives today met in Singapore calling for radical change in the Southeast Asia regional body. Representatives of civil society groups within the regional network of the Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Working Group on ASEAN voiced their concerns on key contending issues such as the human rights situation in Burma, amidst the 13th ASEAN Summit held in the country during 19-21 November 2007.

The group also questioned the legitimacy of the ASEAN Charter drafting process – the first legal document attempting to bind the ten countries together. “While civil society had carried out extensive engagement with the ASEAN Charter drafting processes, these were mostly done out of the initiative of regional and national civil society groups”, said Jenina Joy Chavez of the Bangkok-based Focus on the Global South.

Commenting on the quality of the Charter draft that was leaked to some regional media on Nov 7, Mr. Rafendi Djamin of the Indonesian Human Rights Group said that no internationally recognised standards,  such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was mentioned in the document. Mr. Djamin added that, as it stands, the standard of the present Charter is much lower than the standards of other regional charters, such as the European Union Constitution.

The group also called for the postponement of the signing of the Charter until political transformation can be realised in Burma. Charm Tong, representing the Shan Women’s Action Network, urged ASEAN governments to prevent bringing the Burmese military junta into the signing process of the ASEAN Charter as doing so would undermine the legitimacy of the document.  “ASEAN can do much more to put pressure on the Burmese military junta, but the final draft of the Charter lacks the mechanisms to do so”, stressed Cham Tong.

The demands of the group was also in line with the earlier call made by about 200 Southeast Asian civil society groups that gathered at the 3rd ASEAN+ Civil Society Conference (ACSC-III) recently held during 2-4 November 2007 in Singapore.

The SAPA Working Group on ASEAN will continue to hold the press conference at the Singapore Council of Women Organisations (SCWO) at 3.00-4.00 pm until the conclusion of the ASEAN Summit on 21 November 2007.


About SAPA Working Group on ASEAN

The SAPA WG on ASEAN is a common platform for collective action on ASEAN advocacy. The WG-ASEAN respects and promotes the multiplicity of perspectives, strategies and forms employed by its individual members, as it strives for specific unities in ASEAN-related advocacy and action. Presently, the SAPA WG on ASEAN has more than 100 CSOs, national and regional organizations, as members.

Further information and documents related to SAPA and SAPA WG on ASEAN activities may be downloaded from .

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Samydorai Sinapan, Think Centre, +65 9479 1906, [email protected]
Ms. Consuelo Katrina Lopa, South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA), +63 928 5025685, [email protected]