A youth organization promoting democracy in Southeast Asia issued a statement criticizing five members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Laos, Cambodia,
Burma, Philippines and Singapore, for failure to truly promote and protect
human rights, as representatives of the five countries were not willing
to meet with their members on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, which was closed on October 25.
The statement said the fact that leaders of Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Philippines and Singapore refused to meet with representatives of human rights groups from their own countries, after they and their counterparts from the other fives ASEAN members signed a document formally creating a human rights commission for ASEAN, reflects an attitude that is completely contradictory to the principles of the ASEAN Charter, as the Charter clearly stipulates that to develop ASEAN into an international community of unity and solidarity by 2015 is to make the peoples of all ten member-nations the central part of the organization, making it an "ASEAN Community of Peoples."
However, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, as chair of the 15th ASEAN Summit, commented that the fact that leaders of some ASEAN members refused to meet with representatives of civic groups from their own countries, in no way signifies ASEAN's failure in its attempts to promote human rights. Since the ASEAN Human Rights Commission has only been recently created, so it needs time to make improvements in many areas, given that ASEAN members have vast differences in their political and government systems.
Prime Minister Abhsit Vejjajiva added that, overall, the 15th ASEAN Summit was considered successful, since all members agreed on the importance of developing ASEAN into a true community of unity economically, politically, socially and culturally by 2015, which is only 6 years away.
Mr. Abhisit also said that ASEAN leaders are scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama for the first summit ever this month, November, in Singapore.
Listen to Songrit report for details in Lao.