ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly
Phnom Penh – The ASEAN Grassroots People’s Assembly (AGPA) is set to kickoff in the capital of Cambodia on Tuesday November 13, ahead of the ASEAN leaders 2nd Summit and an expected visit by US President Barak Obama, as part of a movement by the people of Southeast Asia to become more engaged in their governance.
The four day event, held by the Cambodian Cross-Sector Network, will bring together 2,000 activists and grassroots networks members from all around Cambodia and 200 grassroots activists and partners from the ASEAN region. AGPA will combine cultural celebration and exchange with workshops to analyse issues from a national and regional perspective. Hem Vannareth, an AGPA’s representative said, “Change could not be made without people’s solidarity and stay together in one voice. We need a lot of people to be together. AGPA is a great opportunity for ASEAN people who are affected by the current development to raise their problems to government leaders to reconsider their governance and bring people with the well-beings. Grassroots people could also learn to overcome fear from the power of people’s solidarity.”
The events will take place across a number of venues in Phnom Penh with a focus on Food Security & Sovereignty, Trade & Investment, Labour, Natural Resources & Livelihoods, and Human Rights & Democracy. A number of workshops, forums and cultural events will be held on Wednesday November 14.
On November 15 a general assembly will be held for all attendees from across ASEAN. The final day will include a closing ceremony and summary of the workshops, forums and their solutions to the numerous problems being faced by the nations of Southeast Asia.
Issues being faced in Cambodia and across ASEAN include poor working conditions and low wages of workers from the formal and informal economic sectors; lack of employment for youth; laws on the use and management of agricultural land; agricultural cooperatives that provide no protection on small holders farmers; access to essential healthcare and medicines; land grabbing and evictions; and the judiciary. “These issues are serious human rights violations and an unacceptable social injustice. Without the participation, care and involvement of every citizen, these will lead to a complex crisis,” according to Heng Socheat, an AGPA representative.
AGPA is a movement of cross-sector informal groups, networks and activists. It includes farmers, fisher-folk, forestry activists, land activists, indigenous people, women, labour activists, sex workers, youth activists, anti-eviction activists, LGBT activists, artists, singers and more. During 2012 AGPA’s biggest goal is to increase people’s knowledge and understanding of ASEAN and how ASEAN impacts on their life. AGPA also wants to work across sectors and with regional partners with a pro-grassroots stance so that AGPA increases its solidarity and cooperation for working together on ASEAN’s common problems.
“AGPA is a very important opportunity for grassroots people to express their opinions and raise problems they’re facing. Also, this is to remind people that we used to have the assembly in past like during the Socialist Regime to leaders to listen to the people. People give the government power through their votes. The government should not be afraid or worried when people raise their problems. I hope that there will be People’s Assembly every year starting from now,” said Prach Bunthoeun, an AGPA’s representative.
AGPA is being organized as a Cambodian process with the solidarity and involvement of regional allies and partners in ASEAN. It is an event born from grassroots activists, groups and networks organizing and mobilizing in Cambodia in order to have their own voices and problems heard directly from themselves, not mediated through NGOs or platforms dominated by NGOs.
More information, photographs and contact details can be found online at: https://aseanagpa.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter at: @AGPACambodia. You can follow along in the conversation on Twitter with #AGPA or join the discussion on Facebook at: ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly