Ministry of Foreign Affairs, governments gag civil society representatives

23 10 2009

Prachatai (23 October 2009: “5 out of 10 civil society representatives were rejected from the interface meeting with ASEAN leaders”) has an important story regarding the barring and gagging of civil society representatives to an “interface meeting” with ASEAN heads of government. Apparently this was overseen by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, Singapore and Burma had selected substitutes for the nominated civil society representatives, replacing them with people from government-sponsored agencies.

According to the report, “These developments rendered the interface, an important space for civil society to engage with government officials, utterly meaningless. Therefore, the representatives of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia decided to walk out of the meeting.” Further, “in rejecting their civil society representatives sabotages the credibility of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)…”.

The Abhisit Vejjajiva government has claimed that the AICHR has been a major achievement if its term as ASEAN chair. It is now looking more like a failure.

Update 1: Associated Press has a useful story on the ASEAN summit and its no-shows, walkouts, civil society protests and Thailand’s extraordinary security blanket. On the human rights commission, a Filipina is cited to good effect: “It does not bode well for the human rights commission. ASEAN has lost credibility.”

Update 2: Washington Post/Financial Times (24 October 2009) has a story citing Abhisit after the banning/gagging saying that he “tried to put a positive gloss on the dispute” when he stated: “For members of civil society, you should be assured that you now have a partner with which to work…”. Abhisit’s ability to manipulate the truth is again showcased internationally.



3 responses

24 10 2009
27 10 2009
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