Kontras asks ASEAN to pay attention to human rights

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has asked ASEAN leaders who will hold a summit here on May 7-8 to pay more attention to respect for human rights in the region.

"Kontras asks ASEAN member states to pay more serious attention to human rights and basic freedoms by putting the issues on the agenda of the summit," Kontras Executive Coordinator of Working Body Haris Azhar said in a press statement here on Friday.

The call was in line with the spirit of ASEAN Charter which requires ASEAN member states to pay respect for human rights, he said.

He said the commission was also paying serious attention to the human rights agenda of ASEAN amid concern about worsening freedom of civilians in a number of ASEAN member states.

Even the exercise of human rights in Indonesia had to some extent suffered a setback, he said referring to a lack of efforts to protect minority groups against repression from several groups of people committing violent acts.

"The same also happens to other countries," he said.

Citing an example, he said repression against minority groups and civil society organizations also prevailed in Malaysia. Even in Cambodia civil society organizations critical of the government could easily be criminalized.

He said many Vietnamese political activists had left their country because of their critical stand. The same was also true with Myanmar where massive militarism had led to destructive effect in the country.

Kontras also noted that none of ASEAN governments was able or willing to resolve cases of human rights violations in the past.

"Therefore, the ASEAN leaders must not ignore the agenda of justice and guarantee of freedom in the Southeast Asian region. The issue must be put in the political and security pillars in addition to the economic and socio-cultural pillars of the ASEAN agenda," he said. (*)

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