Labor center condemns “toothless” Asean Charter to be signed by RP and other countries

NEWS RELEASE – KMU Labor Center, Philippines

November 20, 2007

IT was not only Myanmar’s but the Philippine government’s contemptible human rights record that were considered for a watered down Asean Charter which is scheduled to be signed in the summit by member-countries.”

This was the reaction of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) today as member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) put finishing touches on a landmark charter that will create an agency to review the region’s human rights but without punitive powers.

KMU Chairperson Elmer ‘Ka Bong’ Labog said it was condemnable that ASEAN countries have ‘remained blind and deaf’ to Myanmar junta’s rampant violations of human rights, particularly its violent dispersals of peaceful demonstrations which killed monks and other civilians weeks months ago and accommodated its membership by dropping earlier recommendations which considered sanctions, including expulsion, for serious breaches of the covenant by member-nations.

” It was unfortunate that the ASEAN charter which was supposedly designed to make the 40 year old ASEAN a rules-based legal entity from an informal and loose organization fails from its first step. It only shows that member-countries are not sincere to instill order and discipline in the region but only after media mileage that it is discussing and confronting issues which are not only popular among the people of Southeast Asia but also of other countries in the world,” Labog said.

The labor leader also stressed that ASEAN member-nations must not focus its attention to Myanmar but also train its eyes to the Philippines which is headed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, touted as the worst-violator of human rights in the long history of the country.

” Myanmar’s junta has no monopoly of committing dastardly acts against its own people. As of today, more than 900 victims of extra-judicial killings and more than 200 cases of enforced disappearance were recorded by various human rights groups in the country since the assumption of President Arroyo to power. Other forms of suppressions and harassments to individuals and legitimate organizations continue to persist as validated by agencies of the United Nations, International Labor Organization (ILO) and other established institutions in the world. We hope that not only our anguish but most importantly our cries for justice be heard by Southeast Asian governments and other coutries,” Labog ended. ###

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