ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly
APGA Press Statement for Immediate Release
Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 15, 2012 – The ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly (AGPA) took place today in Freedom Park in central Phnom Penh. Despite a large police presence and inclement weather, 2,000 plus participants took part in the assembly which focused on jointly drafting statements to be delivered to ASEAN and the Cambodian government.
The assembly began at 7.30am when the participants gathered. Throughout the day they picnicked, performed songs, dances and other shows. The various groups and networks which make up the Cambodian Cross-Sector Network and other organizers of AGPA also took turns presenting results from yesterday’s workshops – including what they want the Cambodian government and the ASEAN member states to do about their various concerns.
“We, representatives of Civil Society Organizations at the grassroots, are not happy. It seems that the government is trying to hide the fact about bad deeds being carried out by its own local authorities. The government of Cambodia does not comply with the ASEAN principles and Constitution, and rules of law,” explained Vorn Pov, one of AGPA’s core organizers as to why they are preparing the statements.
During the assembly two draft statements were circulated among the participants. The first concerned requests for ASEAN which AGPA wishes to present to the Cambodian government tomorrow. The second was requests for the Cambodian government. Both statements were read aloud to the crowd to gather their feelings and inputs on the text, culminating in feedback which was incorporated into the final versions of each statement.
A copy of each statement can be found attached.
Though the assembly was allowed to proceed unhindered by authorities, some of whom even showed up and deemed AGPA acceptable within the grounds agreed upon, elsewhere the authorities proceeded with less respect for basic human rights. In Thmor Kol village by Phnom Penh International Airport, the authorities arrested eight villagers – six women and two men – for taking the initiative of painting the words SOS on their rooftops, in the hopes that as President Obama landed he would see these cries for help and prevent the forced eviction threatening them.
“Even as AGPA has occurred with a nominal level of interference and disruption, there are attempts by the Cambodian government to impress the international community ahead of the ASEAN summits, which is continuing its policy of ‘keep quiet or we will will lock you up’ but the latest detention of 8 community reps living near the airport will actually serve as a stark reminder to those visiting Cambodia for ASEAN that human rights violations are endemic in Cambodia,”said Heng Socheat, an AGPA core organizer.
ASEAN Grassroots People’s Assembly
15 November 2012
We, the ASEAN Grassroots People’s Assembly (AGPA), are farmers, fisher-folk, forestry activists, land activists, indigenous people, feminists, labour activists, sex workers, youth activists, anti-eviction activists, anti-capitalism activists, LGBTIQ activists, activists impacted by dam projects, artists and singers. We are here with our regional allies and friends. We are not an anti-government Assembly. We are people who love peace and are committed to active non-violence. We believe in people’s human rights and human dignity and that is why we have organized our Assembly.
Our Assembly is timed to raise people’s voices and issues to the Royal Government of Cambodia, ASEAN heads of state and other international leaders ahead of the 21st ASEAN Summit on 18-20th November 2012.
AGPA is a four-day event to bring grassroots peoples together in solidarity with each other, in the struggle for social justice, a better life and a better society for everyone. Together we have shared our problems and we see the solutions. We know that when people and governments work together, good and lasting solutions can be found. This is the goal of our Assembly.
On Day 1 of AGPA we experienced a block on our freedom of assembly. This blocking continues. On Day 2, in our different workshops, where we discussed our issues together to make this statement, we experienced further attempts to suppress our basic freedoms– freedom of assembly and freedom of association. But we are here today and we wish to present the reality of our lives, and the strength of our hopes and dreams for our future in Cambodia and in ASEAN.
Leaders: we are talking to you, hear our voices, hear our problems!
We, the people, are part of the solution. We are not part of the problem. We want to work with you to solve our problems.
1. Labor sector (formal, informal, migrant workers)
Ø We demand labor law enforcement in Cambodia
Ø We demand the rights to freedom of association and assembly without facing violence
Ø We demand a fair living wage for workers and civil servants regularly adjusted to inflation
Ø We demand effective and transparent public services in Cambodia
Ø We demand an end to fixed duration contracts
Ø We demand investment which enables informal sector workers to earn decent livelihoods
Ø We demand recognition and respect for the negotiation rights of informal sector workers
Ø We demand a social security fund for informal sector workers
Ø We demand a lower gasoline price in Cambodia like in neighboring countries.
Ø We demand that migrant workers have the rights to form and join unions
Ø We demand that ASEAN Governments recognize and enforce the human rights of migrant worker; migrant workers must be entitled to equal wages and other public services like local workers
Ø Sex workers demand freedom of movement for all peoples in ASEAN
Ø Sex work is work. We must change laws and policies in all ASEAN countries to protect the rights of sex workers including LGBT sex workers.
Ø We, tuk-tuk and motordop drivers, demand an end of motor and bicycle rental in tourism places.
Ø We demand that governments assess and redress the negative impacts of economic land concessions
Ø We demand an end to forced evictions and implementation of on-site development
Ø We demand an end to the manipulation of the judicial system and the violence perpetrated by state and non-state actors, which criminalize and attack human rights defenders and land activists.
Ø We, members of evicted communities, demand the Cambodian government to issue us our official citizens legal documentation (family book, ID cards) so that we can access land title and land compensation
Ø We demand the release of human rights and land activists in prison
Ø We demand that Cambodia respect human rights, democracy and stop discriminating against the poor.
Ø We demand that governments develop policy and laws related to land, mining and hydro-power dams, which serve the interest of people.
Ø We demand the cancelation of economic land concessions policies in ASEAN countries
Ø We demand that ASEAN develops mechanisms and policies for land redistribution to the people
Ø We demand ASEAN government to protect areas of rich biodiversity.
Ø We demand development policies in the ASEAN region respect and promote people’s participation, citizen rights, and do not cause forced eviction and discrimination against the poor.
Ø We ask ASEAN government release a joint statement calling for resolution of land conflicts in ASEAN
3. Food security and sovereignty
Ø We demand fair markets and fair prices for our products.
Ø We demand micro credit from the government with 2% interest rate per year
Ø We demand agricultural technical support from the government.
Ø We reject any agricultural law which contradicts our Constitution and land laws.
Ø We demand laws to protect equal bargaining power between smallhold agricultural producers and purchasers/traders
4. Trade and Investment
Ø We demand development shall not put people into extreme poverty.
Ø Trade and investment should first and foremost strengthen the local economy, local production, human capacity and well-being of the people. Profits of investors should not come before the interests of the people.
Ø We demand universal access to health care and for our countries to have the rights to produce their own generic medicines
Ø We urge the government to implement the laws and regulations which enhance both the quality of education and employment.
Ø ASEAN governments should build a regional community through justice and peace, not through extraction, destruction and exploitation.
Ø Governments must act to advance the interests of the peoples in their countries and not of corporations and elites
Ø National and regional trade and investment policies must promote food sovereignty, decent work, protection of natural resources and life with dignity for all peoples
Ø The development model pursued by ASEAN governments must be redirected by putting people, equality, environment and society before corporate and elite interests.
5. Human Rights and Democracy
Ø We demand an independent judiciary in Cambodia
Ø We reject the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in its current form
Ø We demand justice for indigenous peoples
Ø We demand that all laws and policies that directly and indirectly criminalize SOGI be repealed immediately, and LGBTIQ rights are recognized as human rights, and national laws, policies and practices are harmonized with the Yogyakarta Principles.