Human rights experts call on ASEAN to support an investigation into violations in Burma
- From: "labour" <twenti@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 22:08:34 -0700
May 3, Prachatai
Human rights experts call on ASEAN to support an investigation into
violations in Burma
The Vice-Chair of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission, Mr.
Nurkholis, today called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) to support a UN investigation into business and human rights
violations in Burma. Mr. Nurkholis made his statement as a member of the
experts panel at regional civil society's first Public Hearing on Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Rights in ASEAN held in Jakarta today.
Mr. Nurkholis' recommendation came alongside other human rights experts'
dismay with ongoing and widespread violations in Burma. They were shocked at
evidence of increased militarization in locations where multinational
companies had entered into partnerships with state-owned enterprises, such
as with the Shwe Gas project. Mr. Nurkholis said, "If ASEAN can't, for
whatever reason, investigate and stop these abuses, then they should at
least support the UN to do it."
The other members of the panel were Ms. Rinno Arna (Indonesian lawyer
specializing in social justice and child rights), Attorney Joselito Calivoso
(a legal expert on CSR and rural communities) and Mr. Jerald Joseph
(Executive Director of Dignity International).
"This is an important acknowledgement of the serious crimes taking place in
Burma and the need for ASEAN to endorse measures to investigate and prevent
further crimes," said Debbie Stothard, Coordinator of Altsean-Burma and a
member of Burma Partnership's working group. "ASEAN must recognize that
neither Burma nor the region have the ability to investigate these crimes. A
UN-led inquiry, such as a Commission of Inquiry into serious international
crimes, would be a step towards fulfilling the principles of justice and
human rights laid out in ASEAN's Charter."
The panel heard testimonies by people from communities affected by
corporations' exploitative projects in Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia
and Thailand. Burma-specific testimonials included issues of forced labour
and land confiscation associated with the Shwe Gas pipeline, and the case of
human rights defender Charles Hector's efforts to protect the rights of
migrant workers from Burma in Malaysia.
"The Shwe Gas pipeline is a perfect example of how Burma's military regime
places profits before the protection of the human rights of its citizens.
There is no evidence that this will change any time soon," said Wong Aung,
International Coordinator of the Shwe Gas Movement, who spoke at the public
The public hearing was organized by SAPA thematic task forces, as well as
Altsean-Burma, Asia Indigenous People Pact, Burma Partnership, Focus on the
Global South, FORUM-ASIA, IESR, JATAM, KontraS, Migrant Forum in Asia,
SEACA, TERRA, Thai-ASEAN Watch, WALHI and YLBHI.
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