The Global Digest

Asia Pacific

South Korea

Seoul city’s mayor Park Won Soon meets foreign communities

By John S Thang
Dec. 15, 2011

Mayor Park Won Soon(C) and foreigners

The 13th annual Seoul Town Meeting was held at the Seoul City Hall on December 9, 2011, and was attended by the Seoul city’s mayor Park Won Soon and a dozen Seoul Metropolitan government officers as well as special invitees; the conference hall was filled to its maximum 100 seat capacity.

The Seoul Town Meetings are organized with the intention of encouraging better cooperation and harmony between Korean and foreign residents in the capital city. This year’s meeting focused on general issues regarding life in Seoul including education, medical services and housing.

Mayor Park said during the opening speech that there are more than 350,000 foreigners resident in Seoul city. There are a significant number of migrants in the city and there are more than a million migrants across the country.

The meeting highlighted the situation of migrant women who marry Korean men and their children. Women from China, Vietnam and the Philippines have the highest rates of marriage to Korean men.

A German diplomat Alexander Nowak

One Philippine mother complained about the discrimination their children receive from the Korean children in the schools they attend. She asked the Seoul metropolitan government to provide a multicultural school as well as programs to educate Korean students about discrimination issues in Seoul.

Similarly, a Chinese woman made a strong request that the reality of migrants living situations in Seoul be thoroughly examined. She informed at the meeting that she was totally frustrated by her life here.

Furthermore, a German diplomat, Alexander Nowak spoke out saying that South Korea has tendency of favour American schools and ignore other national schools. Generally, American influences over the South Korean people such as the American English accent, the American army, economics and entertainment.

Another group to attend the meeting were international students in the city; they asked for more scholarships for studying here, since Korea has one of the highest university tuition fees in the world. There are more than thirty thousand international students in Seoul city.

Although scholarships for foreigner students are under the administration of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, due to the absence of the person in charge a Seoul metropolitan officer explained that they will support students with special financial needs as much as they possibly can.

The Global Digest representative Thang John Smith and mayor Park Won Soon

A human rights lawyer turned mayor, Park Won Soon, expressed hope and promised the attendees to solve their social plights and other difficulties of living in the city. At the end of the meeting Mayor Park also privately informed the Global Digest that he wants to see and help refugees in Seoul as well.

An American professor from Yonsei University, Sean Watts, asked the officials to consider sport class in the school, and regulations on vehicles and motorbikes. Motorbikes in the city are a concern for pedestrians and their presence is very dangerous for children. He advised that many parents are worried.

Only a limited number of participants were allowed to express their opinions, freely exchange their ideas and have a live discussion with the officers. Although, most of the attendees were not able to speak out this is the only chance for foreigners to meet face to face with the Seoul city Mayor.

The Global Digest editor Barry Welsh edited to this story.


It would be an honour to die with my head up than to live like a coward having my eyes down, Uzma says in an interview

Special Contribution
By Farzana Ali Khan
Dec. 5, 2011

Shah Abdul Aziz(C) was arrested on his close links to the Taliban and Islamic militants

Despite the huge offer made on part of the accused officials for settlement of the case out of court, Uzma Ayub, a teenage pregnant victim rejected the deal and said adamantly that she would fight against them through court.

Uzma Ayub was kidnapped one year ago, held captive and repeatedly raped by several persons, including policemen, had miraculously escaped from her captors on September,19 while being six months pregnant at that time now entered into eighth month of her pregnancy had now vowed to seek justice, desperately, come what may.

Additional Session Judge Ihtisham Ali Takht-e-Nasrati in district Karak on December, 4 did not confirm their bail before arrest and sent them to jail for five days on physical remand.

In an interview with this scribe Uzma Ayub said, "I don't know what will happen next whether the criminals would be brought to justice or be released after some time as a great number of influential people are at their side but today I am happy as they would also realize how it feels when one is detained."

She said about 30 to 40 elders from ASI Hakeem Khan's area Gudikhel including Shah Abdul Aziz member of provincial assembly on November, 2 had come to our house and said to my brother Alamzeb that Hakeem Khan, Pir Mohsin Shah and Ameer Khan had confessed their crime before them and wanted to compensate and ready to accept their demand whatever it may be.

Again after asking the judge to adjourn the case till December, 2 and then requesting for 24 hours more time, the party had been to the aggrieved family in the evening with the same request but even then Uzma and her family did not accept the agreement.

Uzma said, ''what about the abuse, torture and pain that I have suffered because of them during the entire year when they had kept me in confinement," adding "can anything in this world get me back that one horrible year of my life which I was supposed to spend with my family but these beasts made me spend it in a dark room'', she questioned.

She said that the accused persons had threatened her and her family as well asking them to take back the case or get ready for dire consequences, but what more bad they could do to me as they have ruined my life already and made me a woman before time, she added.

She said the last chance with the criminals is to kill her and her family and they are ready for that too. ''For me it would be an honour to die with my head up than to live like a coward having my eyes down, in fact" she added saying she is as determined as was on the first day when she had escaped from the captivity of the kidnappers.

To a query the soon would be single parent said, "It's true that the child I am carrying in womb will always remain father less but what I know this that I am his/her mother and the most painful stage is yet to come when he/she will ask me the question. Adding still I am determined to give birth to this child, rear and get it a respectable status in the society."

She said though its natural in a Pashtun society not to accept an unmarried woman with her fatherless child still the only thing that console me is that my child is not an outcome of an adultery but its existence is based on the malice on part of the men who are also a part of the same society. And I hope that this society would accept and treat my child like other children keeping this in view that I was innocent.

I could get rid of this child by doing abortion but my conscience did not allow me to kill it as I know that it is a sin in Islam to take life of a human being'', she said adding my life has already been stigmatic even if I had rid myself of this baby still I wouldn’t have not been given a respectable status but now at least I have got a reason to live in the form of this child.

She said that I believe if Allah has made beasts like men i.e. Hakem Khan, Pir Mohsin Shah and others He (Allah) would have also created some kind hearted people as well who will definitely understand my agony.

She further said it was quite easy to settle the issue with the wronged persons with in the walls of our home and accept their proposal but had I accepted the offer how would I live with the guilt as only me and Allah knows what wrong and to what extent they have done to me.

You won't believe that I can't even sleep and nights when I recall their brutality and I have got tired cursing them day and night'', she said adding I want them to be given exemplary punishment so any other man could never be able to dare and think of committing any such crime in his life.

She said whatever she has suffered would never be healed, she knows that well but she doesn’t want any other girl to become Uzma and fall prey to such beasts.

With eyes welled-up she said, ''Even if I want still I can never forgive them for their cruelty because they haven't hurt my body only but also left scars on my soul which will never be visible to anyone but I will feel and remember them always''.

She said different nongovernmental organizations had approached her for financial assistance and asked them to create a minor account but surprisingly a single penny has not been deposited in it so far.

Uzma thanked her lawyer Javez Akhtar for fighting her case free of cost but on the basis of humanity and also appreciated the provincial government for investigating the case and finding out the ground truth.

She said that as a part of investigation she was asked by the medical board to visit Peshawar for determination of her age but she couldn't reach the place as in the letter from the medical board Deputy Superintendent of Police Sajid Mohmand was requested to bring them with full security but when they reached Peshawar he ordered the guards to leave them half way.

Explaining the ordeal she mentioned that due to ignorance about the city she along with her brother Alamzeb couldn't find the exact place where they were supposed to go and that's why they missed appearing before the medical board.

The determination of the rape victim is quite admirable. The relevant authorities must respect her courage and bravery as it's really like a slap on the face not only of the rapists but also those who have provided them unlawful support. As it's a very bold step to reject compensation in the form of a huge amount of money and keep on fighting for justice. I think it's the suitable time for the provincial government and the human rights as well as the judiciary to uphold the principles of justice and dignity she is fighting for by bringing the perpetrators to justice and taking all the measures to eradicate the evil of violence against women from the society.

The arrest of the accused police officials and further investigation in the case of the committee formed by the chief minister also speaks volume of their serious interest in the issue.

By arresting the accused police officials the police department might have a fear of the institution being stigmatized but this is the negative side as if they think positively, the act could earn them a good reputation and make the people regain their trust in the police which almost all of the people have lost during the last few years.

I have also learnt that the NGOs have collected funds from different sources including the Asian Human Right Commission (much enough amount) through the Noor Education Trust to be deposited in Uzma's account but according to Alamzeb, her elder brother, no money has been deposited in her account while they are in dire need of money these days.

The family owe Rs 70, 000 to the people from whom they had borrowed the money while initiating the case and the party is demanding the money as soon as possible while the aggrieved family is not in a position of payment.

It is requested to the Noor Education Trust to provide the collected money with a transparent list of the contributors to the distressed family at its earliest to save them from further anguish.

Moreover, the desired donors can also contribute directly to Uzma Ayub by depositing in her account #:14357900363303 at Habib Bank Limited OR Noor Education Trust - Donation A/c # 022479002497 - 03. Habib Bank Limited. Swift # habbpkka 224. Routing # 026007809


International personalities and over 4,000 Buddhists celebrate the consecration of Most Venerable Thich Quang Do Fifth Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam

Nov. 29, 2011

Most Venerable Thich Quang Do

PARIS,(IBIB) - The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, prominent dissident and 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominee was consecrated Fifth Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) at the UBCV’s 9th Congress from 18-20 November 2011. Because of continuous government repression against the outlawed UBCV, the 9th Congress could not be held in Vietnam as required by the UBCV Charter. It was therefore held at the UBCV’s overseas office in the Dieu Ngu Pagoda in Westminster, California (also known as “Little Saigon”, home to the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam). In advance of the Congress, on 12 November 2011, a Preparatory Assembly was organized clandestinely at the Giac Hoa Pagoda in Saigon. UBCV elders travelled secretly from the provinces to attend this assembly, where they approved the consecration of the new Patriarch and appointed a new leadership for the UBCV.

The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do (see profile: effectively became UBCV leader after the death of former Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang in July 2008. However, the UBVC, which is not recognized by the government, was unable to hold a Congress to officialize the consecration. In fact, the UBCV has not held a Congress in Vietnam since 1977, after the country was reunited under a communist regime. After this event, the authorities launched a brutal crack-down on the UBCV, arresting virtually all its leadership and confiscating its property. In November 1981, the State-sponsored “Vietnam Buddhist Church” was set up by the authorities under communist Party control. The UBCV was effectively banned, and remains outlawed in Vietnam today.

Over 600 representatives of 125 overseas UBCV chapters and Buddhist Youth Movement sections in the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia gathered at the Dieu Ngu Pagoda for the UBCV’ 9th Congress, participating in workshops on a broad range of issues such as “Vietnamese Buddhists’ position on China’s incursions into Vietnamese territories”, “spreading Buddhism in a non-democratic environment – how to assist people in poor, remote areas”, “the UBCV movement for human rights, religious freedom and democracy” etc. A revised UBCV Charter was approved (the fourth since 1964) as well as a new leadership of 36 monks and nuns.

Most Venerable Thich Vien Dinh

Most Venerable Thich Vien Dinh, Superior monk of the Giac Hoa Pagoda (see profile: will take up Thich Quang Do’s former post as Head of the UBCV’s Executive Institute Viện Hóa Đạo (the Institute for the Dissemination of the Dharma). Most Venerable Thich Chanh Lac becomes President of the Overseas UBCV, and Venerable Thich Vien Ly becomes President of the UBCV’s US chapter, the Vietnamese American Unified Buddhist Congress in the USA for 2011-2015.

The Congress adopted a 12-point Resolution committing UBCV members at home and abroad to: stepping up efforts to develop the participation of young people by creating new educational tools and organizing the Buddhist Summer University; exploring new technologies to enhance the understanding of Buddhism and ensure its relevance in a globalized world; mobilizing international support for Thich Quang Do’s “Appeal for Democracy in Vietnam” towards a peaceful process of democratization in Vietnam and campaigning for the reestablishment of the UBCV’s legitimate status.

The 9th Congress ended on Sunday 20th November with a Ceremony of Prayers for World Peace, Security in Southeast Asia and Territorial Integrity in Vietnam, and a special tribute to the Fifth Supreme Patriarch Thich Quang Do. Over 150 monks and nuns, and over 4,000 lay-Buddhists and members of different religious groups and civil society associations in Little Saigon attended the event.

International speakers included Mr. Arne Liljedahl Lynngård from the Rafto Foundation in Norway, Egyptian democracy activist Sherif Mansour, Euro-Parliament member Marietje Schaake from Holland, US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez as well as members of the Californian State Assembly and many local officials.

In an audio message ( recorded at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery in Saigon where he is under de facto house arrest, the UBCV’s new Patriarch Thich Quang Do said: “Vietnam today is like a burning house, ravaged by the flames of extremism, violence and terrorism that are sweeping our globe today. How can we put out these flames? We cannot trust in pyromaniacs to put out the fire. Only enlightened individuals can take on this task. Only those who have extinguished the flames of greed, anger and ignorance in their own hearts can bring peace to others and to the world.

“Almost 3,000 years ago, Lord Buddha offered humankind the principles of living in tolerance and wisdom, teaching us how to free ourselves from suffering, ignorance and the bonds of social injustice and reach the summits of deliverance and enlightenment.

“Putting these principles into practice is the goal that Vietnamese Buddhists have followed for the past 2,000 years. Their engagement has deeply marked the history of Vietnam. A history of Buddhism’s commitment to the people, to save them from suffering and bring them enlightenment. A history of Buddhism’s commitment to the nation, to protect its sovereignty and make its civilization flourish. This is the unifying essence of Vietnamese Buddhism, grounded in the spirit of non-duality and interdependence. Vietnamese Buddhists have learned how to sanctify death by transforming it into Life, for the respect and protection of living beings, in order to elevate humankind to the heights of Absolute Wisdom”.

Speaking of the present regime in Vietnam, he said: “Sadly, in 1975, another regime driven by an alien ideology took power in Vietnam, stifling the development of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam until today. This regime prohibits UBCV monks, nuns and lay-followers from contributing their vast human resources to the post-war reconstruction of Vietnam in every domain - spirituality, culture, education, health, humanitarian and social aid, and the defense of human rights.

“The suppression of the UBCV’s participation in national development, coupled with the Communist Party’s repressive policies, have resulted in increasing poverty, lack of political freedoms and stalled development for the people of Vietnam. This stark reality is reflected in a recent United Nations report: 36 years after the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnam ranks 128th out of 187 on the scale of human development! Another danger we cannot ignore is the threat of Chinese incursion into Vietnamese waters and lands. This is a problem that has deeply disturbed our people in recent years”.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who once visited Thich Quang Do at the Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, said: “I had the privilege to meet Thich Quang Do, who is now the Supreme Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. Today is a wonderful day of celebration. Congratulations! We must continue to fight, not just for Vietnam, but everywhere in the world, for the right of all people to worship as they wish, and for every other type of freedom. Every day, when I go to Washington DC, I will fight for that. Today, I say to you all – congratulations on this beautiful day”.

Mr. Arne Liljedahl Lynngård from the Rafto Foundation in Bergen, Norway, paid a vibrant tribute to Thich Quang Do, who received the prestigious Rafto Prize for human rights defenders in 2006. “I am very proud that Vietnam’s most prominent defender of democracy, religious freedom and human rights, the Venerable Thich Quang Do, is a Rafto Prize laureate. He received the prize for his personal courage and perseverance through three decades of peaceful opposition against the communist regime in Vietnam, and as a symbol for the growing democracy movement in his country.

“Vietnam is blessed to have a religious leader like Thich Quang Do who inspires his people in their pursuit of justice, religious freedom, human dignity, and democracy. The Rafto Foundation joins hands with our Vietnamese friends as we share Thich Quang Do’s all-embracing vision of democracy”. (Full speech :

Prominent Egyptian democracy and human rights activist Mr. Sherif Mansour shared his experiences of the “Arab Spring” and the dynamics of the Egyptian revolution, identifying five lessons and principles for Vietnamese human rights defenders. Firstly, he urged them to “focus on what you and your movement can do, not what your oppressor does. It is easy to curse darkness, but much more useful to light candles. The regime can put out one candle or more. But if the light is bright enough, their eyes will be blurred and their hands will be shaken. They can crush the followers but they cannot stop the spring.

He concluded: “For five years I was an exile in the US. I always told my fellow Egyptians abroad, “Next Year in Cairo”. Most of them doubted this. But guess what? I have been to Cairo three times this year, and I am sure I will see you all soon in Saigon to celebrate with each of you your victory against the Communist Party. That day, I am sure Thich Quang Do will be there to celebrate with us. For him, I say your courage and perseverance will continue to inspire us all. And your sacrifice won’t go unnoticed”. (Full speech :

Ms. Marietje Schaake, MEP

Ms. Marietje Schaake, member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands who is a specialist in Internet freedom, said in a video message to the UBCV Congress (

“Today we pay tribute to THICH QUANG DO, who is a symbol of the ongoing struggle for human rights in Vietnam. His continued dedication to promoting and defending human rights should serve as an inspiration for a new generation. A generation that needs to find new ways and use new tools in our changing world to address both existing and new problems.

“In a globally connected world, geographic distances have become less important, creating new opportunities. But that also means that we cannot ignore problems that are far away from our own homes. Therefore I can assure you that the European Parliament will be a staunch defender of global human rights, also in Vietnam.

Let today's conference be a celebration for those who have contributed so much to improving the lives of others, but also as an inspiration for those who will continue in fighting for freedom, democracy and human dignity.”

THAILAND: Twenty years in prison for four SMS messages

Nov. 24, 2011

Ampon Tangnoppakul(C)

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to express grave concern over the latest conviction and sentence of a person in Thailand for a crime of freedom of expression. On 23 November 2011, in Black Case No. 311/2554 , Ampon Tangnoppakul (also known as 'Arkong'), a 61-year-old man, was sentenced to twenty years in prison for four alleged violations of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. Ampon’s crime was to allegedly send four SMS messages to Somkiat Klongwattanasak, personal secretary of the former prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. iLaw, a Thai legal NGO, reported that the four SMS messages were alleged by the authorities to contain vulgar language and to defame the Thai queen and to insult the honor of the monarchy. The precise content of the SMS messages has not been made public by the authorities and because repetition of alleged lesè majesté content itself constitutes a violation of the law, reporters are unable to report the precise content of the messages without then becoming subject to criminal prosecution themselves.

Compounding the injustice of this sentence, Ampon Tangnoppakul is suffering from laryngeal cancer and had been unable to access proper treatment during detention before and during his trial. There is no reason to believe that this will change now that he has been convicted, and, in fact, depending on what prison he is transferred to, there may be further concerns over his safety and well-being. As has been clear in the case of Daranee Charnchoengskilpakul, currently serving an eighteen-year sentence for alleged lesè majesté and who suffers from severe jaw disease, the authorities have no qualms about denying necessary medical treatment and violating the rights of political prisoners.

On 3 August 2010, a group of 15 police officers raided Ampon Tangnoppakul’s house and arrested him. He was detained for 63 days of pre-charge detention before being granted bail on 4 October 2010. He was then formally charged by the prosecutor on 18 January 2011 with violations of Article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act, and has been incarcerated since then. The court refused bail on the basis of the gravity of his crime and the possibility of flight. His trial took place on 23 and 27-30 September 2011. From the beginning, Ampon maintained his innocence, noting that he did not know to send SMS messages and that the number that sent the message to Somkiat was not his number. The response of the prosecutor to this was to discount it, and note that as the IMEI number of the cell phone that sent the messages to Somkiat belonged to Ampon, then he was responsible.

In the years since the 19 September 2006 coup, and particularly in the last 2 years, there has been a vast expansion of the use of both Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. iLaw, a Thai legal rights NGO, noted that while Ampon was convicted of violations of Article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act of 2007, he was sentenced under Article 112, as it provides for harsher penalties. Since the passage of the Computer Crimes Act, the two have increasingly been used together to silence dissenting speech and intimidate activists and citizens. Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code notes that, "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years."

The relevant section of the Computer Crimes Act in this case is Section 14, Parts 2 and 3, which specify: "If any person commits any offense of the following acts shall be subject to imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than one hundred thousand baht or both: (2) that involves import to a computer system of false computer data in a manner than it likely to damage the country's security or cause a public panic; (3) that involves import to a computer system of any computer data related with an offence against the Kingdom's security under the Criminal Code." The definition of "computer system" is noted in Section 3 as "a piece of equipment or set of equipment units, whose function is integrated together, for which sets of instructions and working principles enable it or them to perform the duty of processing data automatically." The way in which this law is written, and as this case evidences, means that the Computer Crimes Act of 2007 may be used to target communication and speech using various forms of transmitting technology, not only computers per se. This conviction sends a clear message to people in Thailand: be careful, because your SMS messages may be scrutinized for criminal content and then you will be liable to a long prison sentence. The lack of a definition of "security" within the law means that there are wide opportunities for abuse as the authorities can define any dissident or otherwise objectionable content to violate the "security" of the nation.

In a statement released by the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and the Ratsadornprasong Legal Institute (RLI) prior to yesterday’s reading of the conviction, a letter written from Ampon’s daughter to another detainee who was taking care of her father in jail noted:

"What we are most concerned about is our father’s mental fatigue and despondency. Strength is almost gone already. Our requests for bail is always denied ... But the suffering of our family is eased because of you being by our father's side giving him strength...I know that we are not alone fighting for justice , there are many other people who also fight injustice. They fight for justice and freedom for the people who face injustice like us. We are all brothers and sisters, so do not get discouraged and keep on fighting for our father. We must be strong for people who are detained inside. We never thought that this would happen to us as it seem unreal for our family as Thais who greatly love and admire the monarchy. We are regretful that this institution is used for political purposes without them knowing it. It is painful for all us Thais because we love and respect the monarchy more than anything else. We have to fight against injustices in this country because this kind of case is used as a political tool against small people like us whom are treated like ants, termites and used as scapegoats."

The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to express grave concern over this conviction and sentence of a person in Thailand for a crime of freedom of expression -- . Ampon Tangnoppakul has been sentenced to the longest period in prison to date for alleged violations of Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. Particularly given the weak nature of the evidence deployed against him, and the extenuating circumstances of health and age, this case indicates that the Thai judiciary has become a place where justice is foreclosed and injustice flourishes. When murderers walk free, as they did in the case of the disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit, yet a 61-year-old man can be imprisoned for twenty years for allegedly sending four SMS messages with alleged anti-monarchy content, it is clear than human rights are in deep crisis in Thailand.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls for the immediate release of Ampon Tangnoppakul and all others imprisoned for crimes of freedom of expression under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. The Asian Human Rights Commission will continue to closely follow all other cases of alleged violations of Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, and encourages all others concerned with human rights and justice in Thailand to do so as well.

# # # About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

An academic conference to be held: Asian values based on Human Rights

Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Nov. 21, 2011

Confucianism in China

Graduate School of International Study students are going to held a conference about “Regional Integration in Asia: Political, Economic, and Cultural Perspectives” on Dec. 2, 2001 in Seoul.

A Burmese scholar Mr. John S Thang expresses his opinion on Asian values based on Human Rights. The following is his abstract paper:

Due to man’s quest for power, the rise of dictatorships, and humanity’s unwillingness to stand up to Nazi aggression, the world suffered World War II, one of the most terrifying and genocidal world wars in human history, sixty years ago. After World War II, the United Nations developed an international norm and standard to prevent further genocide known as human rights. Human rights are an international recognized norm and standard. Although, most western countries abide by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, very few Asian countries do as a result of the legacy of the Cold War. Now that the Cold War is over, however, many Asian countries have developed economically but still face conflict, militarization and tension, particularly in such countries as North Korea and Myanmar, due to their lack of or almost absence of human rights. In my view, it is necessary for nation-states to promote human rights, as well as, maintain the Asian tradition of courtesy and respect in order to continue their ascent towards modernity. Indeed, by following the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Asian people can build regional integration integrate themselves as well as Asian values with the modern, increasingly globalized, world.

The full paper of his presentation will be published after the event next month.

The Global Digest editors Barry Welsh and Daniel Rhodes edited to this story.


Clean Chit to Law-Breaker Lavasa is a Blot on India’s Democracy and Environmentalism

Special Report
By Medha Patkar
Nov. 14, 2011

The Indian Ministry of Environment Jairam Ramesh

Post-facto Green signal to Phase-I of Lavasa by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) given on the November 9th is a blot on the democratic process and a shockingly dangerous precedent in the history of environmental action in India. MoEF’s improper action has infact sent shock-waves to eco-activists within the country and also across the world. Although it is not the first time in the long history of Indian Environmental clearance regime that political highhandedness has been used to subvert rule of law and the ends of justice, this case is unique since the clearance has disregarded well established evidence based on facts collected by no other than the MoEF itself. It is surprising that the Ministry's decision has come in the wake of the case filed by the Maharashtra government against 15 persons including promoters of Lavasa Corporation for alleged violations of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), while the Maharashtra Chief Minister on the other hand has recommended that Lavasa be considered for environmental clearance, exposes the double standards of the state government.

It may not be over-exaggerated to state that some sections of the Ministry also are hand-in-glove with the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC). It is common knowledge that the HCC Director Mr. Ajit Gulabchand is a close aide of Mr. Sharad Pawar (NCP Supremo) and hence Lavasa, a subsidiary of HCC has always been the ‘dream project’ of Mr. Pawar and his allies. NAPM has been at the forefront of unearthing and challenging the plethora of illegalities indulged in by Lavasa since the beginning and has also published several documents, substantiating how the Corporation has been favoured by the Maharashtra Government, over and above the law. It was due to the initiative of the affected villagers, especially the tribal people and NAPM that the matter was brought to the light and the Maharashtra Government as well as the MoEF had to take note of the seriousness of the issue.

We are also extremely aghast since the recent ‘clearance’ comes after all after all long-drawn processes leading to undisputed conclusion by the Ministry itself that Lavasa has violated the Environment Protection Act 1986 and numerous other environmental norms. There is infact, no such provision under law and the EP Act wherein any project can obtain ‘Post- Facto’ clearance. It has also been proved beyond any iota of doubt that the company went ahead with the ‘development’ work at Lavasa in 2004 on the basis of environment clearance granted by the Maharashtra government, while in fact the state government has no legal authority to grant environment clearance to a project of such magnitude, with enormous implications on the fragile eco-system in the Western Ghats.

It is true that both the state government and HCC tried to disguise their malignant intentions of overriding Union laws under the cover of the Hill Station Development Act, 1996. One also wonders as how could have the state Government misled the company to evade the central clearance, whilst it the former is expected to be the guardian the law of the land. The present clearance is also starkly inconsistent with the Ministry’s stop work orders issued in November, 2010 which had accused the Corporation of suppressing crucial facts and violating environmental norms. It observed that out of the total land of 2,000 hectares, construction on 47.30 hectare was undertaken at a height of 1000 meters above the sea level, even though the permission was for less than 1000 meters.

Further, Lavasa has been also found guilty of taking up construction in the hills, hill slopes and river bed by violating norms of permissible construction, the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) land meant for ‘public purpose’ was allegedly allotted to Lavasa, the company has misused global FSI permission, constructed private dam in the reservoir and diverted its waters for private use, indulged in felling of lakhs of tress and has brutalized the harmonious ecology of the Moshe Khore valley.

Numerous reports have also established that the Company has been guilty of illegal land transfers, fraud committed on farmers and adivasis, usurpation of lands grated to landless under the Land Ceiling Act. The Maharashtra Government has to take cognizance of all these and initiate prompt legal action against the Company. While on one hand, the Chief Minister himself has accepted that the Company has misused the ‘Special Planning Authority’ status wrongly conferred upon it by the state government and on the other, he has proceeded to recommend that the project be given green signal for the first phase of its work, all of which exposes the dichotomy of the political class, with a vested interest in the Project and its proponents.

In this context, we fully condemn and refute the legally untenable decision of MoEF in the case of Lavasa. It is indeed an act of shame that the MoEF must buckle under pressure from corporate big wigs like Lavasa, in a country which has witnessed glorious green politics and environmental activism through the Silent valley, Chipko, Narmada Bachao and other movements, widening the horizon of ecological justice and raising the concerns of project affected families and communities as well. All this establishes the clear lack of political will in conserving nature and the nature-based communities. It is unfortunate and unacceptable that one private Company can pressurize both the Centre and the State to overlook all its illegalities and give ‘clearance’ to commit further illegalities. Given the graving of the entire issue, we demand that no less than a CBI inquiry at this stage would be necessary to bring all the facts to light and the culprits to book.

It is also quite notable that the Hon’ble High Court on a series of earlier hearings and especially on the last date of hearing on 22nd October, 2011 had stated that it would consider the various public interest petitions filed by NAPM and other concerned citizens and groups before delivering its final judgement. We hope the Hon’ble Court would take note of the improper and illegal manner in which the State has dealt with the issue and issue appropriate orders.

As a central sanctioning and monitoring authority, accountable to the Parliament and beyond it, the People, the Ministry, we expect, will reconsider its decision, not on politics, but on merits and revoke the clearance for the Phase-I. The Ministry also has its own credibility at stake, if it chooses to ignore crucial and incriminating evidence against the Lavasa Corporation. NAPM, along with the affected people and all its comrades having stake in the eco-well-being of the Mose river valley will rally for the cause, both on the ground and in the Court. Lavasa, an offender has to pay the costs of its illegalities, it deserves no pardon and no patronage.

Lavasa is also another crucial litmus test for democratic fabric and future of the country. At a time when, ‘corruption’ has become the catch word of the Indian Middle Class and Political Establishment, we shall wait and see if they will stand up to speak out against the criminal and corrupt acts of the Lavasa Corporation.

For National Alliance of People’s Movements,

Medha Patkar, Suniti SR, Dr. Vishwambhar Chowdhari
Ph: 09423965153 / 09423571784


Price Rise is a sign of Progress says Prime Minister of India!

Special Report
By Thomas Kocherry,
Nov. 8, 2011

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

It is a very interesting remarks of Prime Minister, who says that price rise is a sign of progress. He is the Prime Minister of 1.5 billion people of India. Among them 1.4 billion do not have all the basic needs met. About 100 million do not have even one meal a day.

He does not know India, because he was most of the time at the Reserve Bank of India and at the World Bank. How can he know about the poverty of India, the vast millions do not have the basic needs met. Can you come and stay in any slum of Mumbai? And tell them the price rise is a sign of progress. Can you come and stay in Dandiwada tribal village and tell them price rise is a sign of progress. Can you come stay in any village of Bihar and tell the people price rise is a sign of progress?

Yes it is a sign of progress to the Rich, Companies and the MNCs. This is what you are trying to do as Prime Minister. The Economic Globalization and free market is a free movement of Capital to make profit for a few at the expense of the vast majority, who do not have the basic needs met. There is no question of Justice. There is no question of morality. By hook or by crook they make profit. Price rise is PROGRESS FOR THIS FEW. You became Prime Minister for this few. Your life has been for them. You have revealed yourself who you are through this one statement. You have shown your real character and colour. Corruption is the core of your formula. Banks are collapsing because of a few are swindling the money of the investors. Economic crises are all over the World because a few are making money more and more. Corruption is organically linked with Price Rise. So Indirectly you are saying Corruption is a sign of progress.

Are you not seeing the revolt that is taking place all over the World? The victims of price rise are revolting all over the World. Are you not seeing this revolt not only in developing countries but also in the USA, Italy, and so on. If you do not learn from these protests, you will be forced to learn very soon. There is a limit to this corruption and price rise that is going on. The best expression of protest was thousands spontaneously rallied around Anna Hazare. Another expression is the protest that is taking place against Koodamkulam Nuclear Plant. Apart from the danger involved in the Nuclear Plant, it is a seat of corruption. Nobody knows the accounts of the expenditure of this plant. The 15 member Scientists of Prime Minister is going to allay the fears of the poor people agitating against the Nuclear Plant. Their first statement was the protest has been done with foreign money. Who is saying this, 15 member committee who has to allay the fears of the poor people. Who is saying this, the people is spending foreign money without even showing the accounts to the public.

The price rise was a `sign of progress for UNION CARBIDE. But what about the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy? Is the price rise is a sign of Progress for the lakhs and lakhs victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy? If the Prime Minister, GOI and MP cannot handle such a big tragedy in India how can you give safety to the poor people of India? Yes Price Rise is a progress for the Union Carbide and death knell for the victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy?? !! Yes Prime Minister this is what you are saying.


UNDP has released HDI(Human Development Index) report:-Where we Stand?

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Nov. 2, 2011

Map of India

Human Development Report offers important new contributions to the global dialogue on this challenge, showing how sustainability is inextricably linked to basic questions of equity that is, of fairness and social justice and of greater access to a better quality of life. Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue, as this Report so persuasively argues. It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billion of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.

Understanding the links between environmental sustainability and equity is critical if we are to expand human freedoms for current and future generations. The remarkable progress in human development over recent decades, which the global Human Development Reports have documented, cannot continue without bold global steps to reduce both environmental risks and inequality. This Report identifies pathways for people, local communities, countries and the international community to promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutually reinforcing ways.

In the 176 countries and territories where the United Nations Development Programme is working every day, many disadvantaged people carry a double burden of deprivation. They are more vulnerable to the wider effects of environmental degradation, because of more severe stresses and fewer coping tools. They must also deal with threats to their immediate environment from indoor air pollution, dirty water and unimproved sanitation. Forecasts suggest that continuing failure to reduce the grave environmental risks and deepening social inequalities threatens to slow decades of sustained progress by the world’s poor majority and even to reverse global convergence in human development.

The 2011 Human Development Report argues that the urgent global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together – and identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. Bold action is needed on both fronts, the Report contends, if the recent human development progress for most of the world’s poor majority is to be sustained, for the benefit of future generations as well as for those living today. Past Reports have shown that living standards in most countries have been rising and converging - for several decades now. Yet the 2011 Report projects a disturbing reversal of those trends if environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify, with the least developed countries diverging downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050.

The Report shows further how the world’s most disadvantaged people suffer the most from environmental degradation, including in their immediate personal environment, and disproportionately lack political power, making it all the harder for the world community to reach agreement on needed global policy changes. The Report also outlines great potential for positive synergies in the quest for greater equality and sustainability, especially at the national level. The Report further emphasizes the human right to a healthy environment, the importance of integrating social equity into environmental policies, and the critical importance of public participation and official accountability.

The 2011 Report concludes with a call for bold new approaches to global development financing and environmental controls, arguing that these measures are both essential and feasible...


In an Open Letter to VCP Secretary-general Nguyen Phu Trong: Buddhist leader Thich Quang Do: Democracy alone can protect Vietnamese sovereignty from Chinese encroachment

Thich Quang Do addresses farmers demonstrating in Ho Chi Minh City(2007)

PARIS, Oct. 31, 2011 (IBIB) – The International Buddhist Information Bureau in Paris has received an Open Letter from the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, prominent dissident and leader of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) to Vietnamese Communist Party Secretary-general Nguyen Phu Trong. The letter denounced the lack of transparency in the Vietnam-China settlement of land and sea disputes during Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to China from 11-15 October 2011. The UBCV leader, 83, said the only true solution lay in a democratic process in which the whole population could take part. The letter was sent by registered post on 21.10.2011 from Thanh Minh Thien Vien in Saigon, where he is currently under de facto house arrest.

Thich Quang Do explained that he addressed the letter to the VCP Secretary-general rather than the President or Prime Minister in order to save time, because: “Vietnam is not a democratic country. The Communist Party holds the reins of power, and routinely pre-empts the government’s authority”. He called on Nguyen Phu Trong to clarify the joint Vietnam-China statement issued together with Chinese Communist Party Secretary-general and President Hu Jintao on the “Basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues” at the conclusion of Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to China. Thich Quang Do considered the agreement to be a serious withdrawal from the “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea” (DOC) signed between China and ASEAN in 2002, aimed at building a “Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea” (COC) for all parties involved.

“The whole Vietnamese population was waiting to hear what proposals you made in Beijing to impede China’s encroachment on our seas and islands, such as the drawing up of a 9-dash map, or “U-shaped line”, the invasion of the Paracel and Spratly islands, the aggressive assault on Vietnamese ships Binh Minh and Viking conducting seismic surveys in our own territorial waters, the arrest and murder of Vietnamese fishermen in the East Sea. All these are burning issues that prompted thousands of youths, students, intellectuals and prominent personalities to stage protests in Hanoi and Saigon over the past three months”. Following a sharp police crack-down in August 2011, “these exuberant demonstrations, with banners and shouting of slogans, have been reduced to mute protests” wrote Thich Quang Do. But they continue, he said, “like demonstrations of the dumb”.

“But you proposed nothing”, wrote Thich Quang Do. The 6-point joint statement simply outlined general principles, he said, without addressing pressing sea and land disputes and China’s continuing incursions not only on territories claimed by Vietnam but also the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries in the region. He cited the meeting of ASEAN countries Bali on 19-23.7.2011 to seek regional strategies and consensus on the East Sea issue.

“In the past, our forefathers were forced to pay tribute to their Chinese over-lords. But this was a policy of skilful diplomacy, aimed at preserving our nation’s sovereignty. Nowadays, ever since the Vietnamese Communist Party was born in the land of Mao, our leaders have never ceased kow-towing to Beijing and following the CCP’s orders” regardless of Vietnam’s sovereign interests.

The VCP may control the country and the government, he declared, but it cannot decide on uur national sovereignty alone. “National sovereignty concerns the whole population, irrespective of their religious or political beliefs. From the times of the two Trung sisters, when many Buddhist women generals and military leaders fought against foreign aggression, through to the dynasties of the Dinh, Le, Ly, Tran and Le, our ancestors always struggled to safeguard our nation, sometimes by diplomacy and sometimes by military force. But they never resorted to “diplomatic notes” or shameful agreements that led to selling off Vietnamese lands, waters and islands to China as we see today under the dynasty of Ho Chi Minh”.

Thich Quang Do cited two examples of the VCP’s submission to China: the 1954 Conference in Liuzhou, where the delegation led by Ho Chi Minh accepted China’s conditions, dictated by Zhou Enlai, on the partitioning of Vietnam under the Geneva Agreement; the Chengdu Conference in September 1990 where a high-level Vietnamese delegation led by Pham Van Dong and Vo Nguyen Giap suffered humiliating treatment yet returned to execute Li Peng’s orders, having failed to defend the interests of Vietnam.

The UBCV leader called on Nguyen Phu Trong to inform the Vietnamese people of the VCP’s policies and give details of its agreement with China on the Spratly and Paracel islands, the sea and land borders, the fate of Vietnamese fishermen, and the demarcation of a “U-shaped line” which he described as “a broom which China will use to sweep the whole East Sea, over 2 million square kilometers, into its own borders”.

“The Vietnamese people need to know, so that they determine their own future and find ways to protect their homeland. Faced with China’s ambitions and expansionist policies, what does the Vietnamese Communist Party plan to do?”

Specifically, Thich Quang Do asked why the VCP had made no attempts to bring the sea border dispute before the United Nations under the 1982 UNCLOS Convention; why the VCP did not press for a multilateral solution to the East Sea disputes instead of the bilateral settlements demanded by Beijing; or why Vietnam did not unite with other ASEAN countries to counterbalance Chinese encroachment?

But in the long run, Thich Quang Do told the VCP Secretary-general, there is only one effective solution to stem Chinese expansionism – that of democracy in Vietnam.

“The VCP and the government cannot breathe forever through China’s nostrils. The only way to avoid this is by initiating a peaceful transition to democracy, so that our country can breathe through the nostrils of the almost 90-million strong population of Vietnam.”

“But first and foremost”, he urged Nguyen Phu Trong, “you must make the contents of your agreement with Beijing completely clear so that the Vietnamese people, including the Buddhist community, can make their own decision on what steps they must take”.---


Malnutrition in India: Where we stand in Human Development Index?

Special Report
By Soheb Lokhandwala
Oct. 22, 2011

A baby suffering malnutrition in India

The 2011 Human Development Index that the urgent global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together – and identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. Bold action is needed on both fronts, if the recent human development progress for most of the world’s poor majority is to be sustained, for the benefit of future generations as well as for those living today. Past Reports have shown that living standards in most countries have been rising - and converging - for several decades now. Yet the 2011 Report(Expected on 2nd Nov.2011) projects a disturbing reversal of those trends if environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify, with the least developed countries diverging downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050.

The world’s most disadvantaged people suffer the most from environmental degradation, including in their immediate personal environment, and disproportionately lack political power, making it all the harder for the world community to reach agreement on needed global policy changes. The Report also outlines great potential for positive synergies in the quest for greater equality and sustainability, especially at the national level. The Report (Expected to be published on 2nd Nov.2011) further emphasizes the human right to a healthy environment, the importance of integrating social equity into environmental policies, and the critical importance of public participation and official accountability.


Nobel Peace Laureate joins Appeal to end Death Penalty in Vietnam PARIS, 11 October 2011

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mrs. Mairead Corrigan-Maguire

VIETNAM COMMITTEE - International personalities and organizations have joined the appeal launched on the 9th World Day against the Death Penalty by Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights (VCHR) for an end to capital punishment in Vietnam (1). The two organizations first began campaigning for the abolition of capital punishment in Vietnam at the 56th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2000. At that time, death sentences were increasing annually in Vietnam, with 194 death sentences pronounced in 1999.

In the appeal issued yesterday, Quê Me and the VCHR expressed concern about Vietnam’s lack of transparency on death penalty statistics, the use of the death penalty to sanction vaguely-defined “national security” crimes that could apply to legitimate acts of freedom of expression, and the adoption of a new law in 2011 to execute convicts by lethal injections instead of the firing squad in order to make the death penalty “more humane”.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mrs. Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, sent the following message today to VCHR President Vo Van Ai. Mrs. Corrigan-Maguire, a Roman Catholic, was awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace prize along with Betty Williams, a Protestant, for uniting Catholics and Protestants in a common initiative to end sectarian violence in their native Northern Ireland.

"Please add my support to your call for an end to the death Penalty in Vietnam." “The death penalty can never be called 'humane' as it means the Vietnam Government is choosing to take the lives of its citizens when Governments are called to protect human life and uphold UN Declaration of Human Rights and many other international laws. We call upon the Vietnamese Government to abolish the death penalty and join the many world Governments who have already done so”. Sincerely, Mairead MaguireNobel Peace Laureate


9th World Day against the Death Penalty: Vietnam makes the Death Penalty “more humane”

Oct. 10, 2011

Vietnamese activists Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Nguyen Tien Trung, Le Thang Long and Le Cong Dinh(R)

PARIS (VIETNAM COMMITTEE) - As abolitionists around the world mark the 9th World Day against the Death Penalty on 10th October 2011 under this year’s theme, “the Inhumanity of the Death Penalty”, Paris-based Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights called for an end to capital punishment in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

“Capital punishment is a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, said Quê Me’s President Vo Van Ai. “Moreover, it is particularly dangerous in a one-Party State such as Vietnam, where the judiciary is subservient to the Communist Party and where citizens may be condemned to death on “national security” charges simply for the peaceful advocacy of democracy or human rights”.

Vietnam hands down about 100 death sentences each year, mostly for drug-related crimes. At least, this is the estimate of the state-controlled media, which reported on the recent death sentence of three people for heroin trafficking in the province of Lao Cai (5.10.2011). The real figures on executions, however, can never be known. In 2004, following international condemnation of its frequent use of the death penalty, Vietnam adopted a decree classifying statistics on death sentences and executions as “state secrets”.

“Vietnam continues to execute its citizens” said Mr. Ai, “But it now declares that executions are “more humane”. In July 2011, following the Chinese model – as it also does for Internet censorship and repression of political dissent – Vietnam adopted new legislation to carry out executions by lethal injections rather than the firing squad. The new law also allows relatives of the executed to retrieve their bodies for burial. Retired prison governor Nguyen Duc Minh commented: “Lethal injection will cause less pain and the bodies of executed prisoners will stay intact so it will reduce the psychological pressure on executors”. According to the state-controlled media, many policemen suffered trauma after completing their duty as “executioners”.

Mr. Ai urged Vietnam to sign the Second Optional Protocol to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty as soon as possible, and implement an immediate moratorium as a first step towards abolishing capital punishment in Vietnam.

Background: Twenty-two offences in Vietnam’s Criminal Code are punishable by death, including seven “national security” crimes such as treason, carrying out activities to overthrow the government, espionage, banditry, terrorism, undermining peace etc. The definition of national security crimes is extremely vague, and the United Nations has frequently expressed concern that critics in Vietnam may be sentenced to death under these provisions simply for the peaceful exercise of the right to free expression.

For example, the crime of “espionage” (Article 80 of the Criminal Code, sanctions non-political acts such as “gathering or supplying information and other materials (i.e. materials which are not State secrets) for use by foreign countries against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. Cyber-dissidents and bloggers could be condemned to death under these provisions simply for circulating opposition views overseas.

Article 79 of the Criminal Code carries the death penalty for people who “establish or join organizations with intent to overthrow the people’s administration... or cause serious consequences” (our emphasis). Dissidents may thus be put to death for the mere “intent” to change the government or form opposition movements. In January 2010, pro-democracy activists including human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, Le Thang Long, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Nguyen Tien Trung were charged under Article 79 for peacefully advocating democracy. They received sentences from 5 to 16 years in prison.


A Statement from the Coalition for the International Criminal Court forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Oct. 4, 2011

Thai Prime Minister H.E. Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra

THAILAND: Global Coalition calls on Thailand to join the International Criminal Court Civil Society Says New Government’s Priorities Should Include Accession to Rome Statute

New York, USA/ Bangkok, Thailand – The Coalition for the International Criminal Court today called on Thailand to demonstrate its commitment to the global fight against impunity by acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—the world’s first and only permanent international court able to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Thailand is the focus of the Coalition’s Universal Ratification Campaign (URC) for October 2011, a campaign launched to call upon a different country each month to join the Rome Statute—the ICC’s founding treaty.

In a letter dated 3 October 2011 to Thai Prime Minister H.E. Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra, the Coalition—a global network of more than 2,500 civil society organizations in 150 countries advocating for a fair, effective and independent ICC—urged the government of Thailand to move forward with the accession process of the Rome Statute.

To date, 118 states worldwide have joined the Rome Statute, Maldives being the most recent one. While the past two years have been witness to increased participation from Asian states within the Court – Bangladesh ratified in March 2010, the Philippines in August 2011 and Maldives in September 2011 – the Asian region still remains underrepresented at the ICC, with only 9 states parties to the Rome Statute.

Thailand’s accession to the Rome Statute would provide an important example to other ASEAN member states. “Thailand, as a leading country in the ASEAN, has been in the forefront of promoting human rights in the region,” noted Evelyn Balais-Serrano, the Coalition’s Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific. “With a new government, it is time to consider ratification of the Rome treaty in its efforts to forge unity among its people and its neighbouring countries. Its commitment to ending impunity and pursuing justice for victims of past conflicts are in line with the goals and spirit of the Rome Statute and the ICC,” she stated.

The Coalition also recalled Thailand’s participation in the Rome Conference and its subsequent steps toward accession. In recognition of some legal challenges that have surfaced with regards to compatibility between the Rome Statute and Thai domestic legislation, the Coalition called on Thailand to draw examples from states parties that have successfully addressed similar compatibility issues. By addressing these issues, the new government would demonstrate its commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.

“As it undergoes major reforms, the new administration would benefit from accession to the Rome Statute, as it would show the Thai people’s concern for and solidarity with the sufferings of victims of conflicts in Asia and around the world,” stated Dr. Taejing Siripanich, Commissioner of the Thai Human Rights Commission and Head of the ICC Working Group in Thailand.

After accession, Thailand would be able to participate in the annual Assembly of States Parties of the ICC as a state party, during which important decisions are made in relation to the administration of the Court, including the election of judges, the chief prosecutor, and other Court officials.

Background: The ICC is the world’s first permanent international court to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. .Central to the Court’s mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. There are currently six active investigations before the Court: the Central African Republic; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, the Sudan; Uganda, Kenya and Libya. The ICC has publicly issued 18 arrest warrants and nine summonses to appear. Three trials are ongoing. The ICC Prosecutor recently requested authorization from Judges to open an investigation in Côte d’Ivoire. His office has also made public that it is examining eight other situations on four continents, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, and Palestine.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a global network of civil society organizations in 150 countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC; ensure that the Court is fair, effective and independent; make justice both visible and universal; and advance stronger national laws that deliver justice to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

For more information, visit:

Jul-Sep, 2011

NAPM Salutes the Victory of Janshakti at Koodankulam: Appreciates position taken by the T.N. Government, Centre and state must respect the people’s views and not impose destruction

MPJ PDS Campaign-8,000 ration shop complaints lie unattended

Vietnam Committee denounces repression of anti-China demonstrations

Officials and armed police disrupt human rights training event for second time in one month

People Resume the Struggle Against Koodankulam NPP: Massive Hunger Strike at Idinthakarai on September 11, 2011

The American “X” in Asia: No Gun-Ri massacre survivals witness

Police Banned Green Shirts in Bukit Koman

NAPM Extends Support to Anti-Corruption Movement and Demand for an Effective Lokpal: Gives National Call to Join the struggle for Corruption-free India

IMPORTANT Appeal for Nation Wide Action on 2011 Draft Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill

Court demonstrates contempt for human rights by jailing torture victim on say-so of alleged perpetrator


Sangharsh leaders meet Jairam Ramesh, Jayanti Natarajan and Mukul Wasnik


Are secret trials compatible with Liberties and Rights?


Notice of Evictions to Golibar Residents is Illegal and Inhuman

Kamlakar Shenoy’s arrest: Vindictive move by corrupt builders


Prime Minister Keeps Environment Ministry and the Minister Structurally Weak: Jayanthi Natarajan Appointed a Junior Minister, like her Predecessor

Korea student aid foundation: dream and hope for students

Australian Senate motion on Sri Lanka

At the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies: Global Civil society Leaders Urge Support for Democratization in Vietnam


Apr-June, 2011

Jan-Mar, 2011