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UN decries “enforced disappearance”, calls for an end

Jack Burton

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UN decries “enforced disappearance”, calls for an end | Thaiger
PHOTO: BBC

The United Nations is calling on all countries in Southeast Asia to criminalise state abductions and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The organisation’s Human Rights Office says it’s “profoundly concerned” over continuing reports of enforced disappearances, after Wanchalearm Satsaksit, an activist living in exile, was abducted in Phnom Penh on June 4, becoming at least the ninth Thai pro-democracy activist to disappear from a neighbouring country since the 2014 coup.

2 of those activists, Chatcharn Buppawan and Kraidej Luelert, were found dead last year in the Mekong River on the Lao border, disembowelled and stuffed with concrete. Wanchalearm is still missing and his fate is unknown. A UN statement said:

“The time has come to end these heinous crimes in Southeast Asia. Strong commitments are needed by states to achieve that goal through adopting domestic legislation that meets international norms and standards and by fully implementing the Convention, including establishing appropriate domestic institutional mechanisms to investigate allegations of disappearances.”

Only 1 country in Southeast Asia, Cambodia, has ratified the International Convention, while 3 others, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos, are signatories but have not yet become party states.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has documented at least 1,301 unsolved cases of enforced disappearance in Southeast Asia, nearly half from the Philippines. In the past 3 years, cases of enforced disappearances have been reported in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Indonesia is also dealing with a historical legacy of disappearances, including many committed in East Timor.

“Enforced disappearance is one of the worst possible human rights violations that can be committed, robbing families of the knowledge, often forever, of the fate of their loved ones. Families have the right to know and it is the responsibility of every government to urgently resolve these cases, to put in place mechanisms to prevent it from occurring, and to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law.”

The UN says that in Southeast Asia, individuals are targetted for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Victims have included human rights defenders, environmental and political activists, government critics, lawyers and journalists.

“Impunity for this horrific act must end. Timely and credible investigations must be undertaken, the perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice and families provided the right to reparation.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    The UN can be profoundly concerned all they want, it will not change matters.
    Thailand is in the control of despot dictators.
    Not one of them will ever be brought to justice, and most will retire with a pat on the back to go off with plundered millions to a luxury retirement abroad.

    • Avatar

      DAI SORRENTINO

      Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 9:01 pm

      No what the UN are saying is its far easier to kill the person than abscond them , that way there’s closure for the family , as they know the family member is dead , but alas they’ll never know by whom …

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Politics

Malaysia joins calls to hold emergency ASEAN summit over Myanmar political situation

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Malaysia joins calls to hold emergency ASEAN summit over Myanmar political situation | Thaiger

Malaysia is joining calls to hold an emergency ASEAN summit to discuss the political turmoil in its neighbouring country of Myanmar. Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin says he supports Indonesia’s president who originally proposed the emergency meeting.

Muhyiddin says the continued use of lethal violence against unarmed civilians was unacceptable, and urged Myanmar’s military leadership “to change its course and choose a path towards peaceful solutions.”

“There is no question about it, the use of live ammunition against peaceful protests is unacceptable. This deplorable situation must stop immediately.”

“We in Malaysia, and the larger ASEAN community, cannot afford to see our brotherly nation of Myanmar become so destabilised at the hands of a selected few, who seek to promote their own vested interests.”

Since the coup, Indonesia has led efforts within ASEAN to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. Its president called for democracy to be restored and violence to be halted, joining other nations in condemning the military-led violence against anti-coup protesters.

“I will immediately call the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam as head of ASEAN to as soon as possible hold a high-level ASEAN meeting to discuss the crisis in Myanmar.”

ASEAN members discussed the political situation in Myanmar earlier this month, with the Thai Foreign Ministry now joining the growing list of countries to pressure the military to hold talks with political dissidents to end the conflict. But, Thailand still hasn’t outright condemned the coup. Many say Thailand may be wanting to get more involved as it prepares to see an influx of Myanmar nationals fleeing to Thailand to escape the increasing violence in their home country.

Just recently, the military coup leader in Myanmar made statements that indicated the military was okay with pending sanctions from the international community, implying that the government was willing to be isolated from the world.

Myanmar’s most powerful Buddhist group has also criticised the military’s use of violence and has appeared to break from historically aligning itself with the government. The group says it will stop activities in an apparent move to protest the political situation.

The United Nations has also criticised the violence against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, citing women and children are among the victims killed as increasing concerns of civilian casualties mount.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Myanmar

Thailand calls on Myanmar military to release detainees and to de-escalate the situation

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Thailand calls on Myanmar military to release detainees and to de-escalate the situation | Thaiger
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand is urging Myanmar to release everyone who was detained by the military following last month’s coup. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement today calling on a de-escalation of the country’s situation where many have been injured and even killed in protests.

“As a neighbor, sharing a long common border, and with the Myanmar and Thai peoples having close interactions in many aspects, Thailand continues to follow developments in Myanmar with much concern. As with other countries, we are saddened by the loss of lives and the sufferings of the people of Myanmar due to escalating violence in the country.

We call for de-escalation of the situation and release of detainees. We also urge all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution for Myanmar and its people through dialogue via any constructive channels.”

Thailand has been preparing temporary facilities, in areas bordering Myanmar, to help Burmese citizens who are leaving Myanmar to escape the crackdown from the military and police following the recent takeover.

Recently, there have been trilateral talks held between the foreign affairs ministers of Thailand and Indonesia with a senior Myanmar military official.

SOURCES: Thai PBS World| Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Economy

Britain to apply for membership with Asia Pacific free trading bloc

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Britain to apply for membership with Asia Pacific free trading bloc | Thaiger

In the wake of Britain’s Brexit and separation from the EU trading bloc, the UK is now applying to become part of the free trade bloc made up of 11 Asia and Pacific nations. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership also includes Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, a potential market population of around 500 million. The countries generate more than 13% of the world’s income.

The request will be made formally tomorrow by the UK International Trade Secretary. Negotiations are expected to start in March and continue during the northern hemisphere Spring.

There would also be the potential for faster and cheaper visas for business people travelling between participating nations.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was formed in 2018 and includes, in alphabetical order, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Former US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the free trade bloc back in 2016.

The UK hopes the deal will reduce trade tariffs between the member countries. It includes a promise to eliminate or reduce 95% of import charges – although some of these charges are kept to protect some home-made products, for example Japan’s rice and Canada’s dairy industry.

In return, countries co-operate on trade regulations, quality controls and food standards. Member countries can negotiate separate trade deals as well within the bloc. The UK is the first non-founding country of the CPATTP to apply for membership and, if accepted, will be the bloc’s second biggest economy after Japan.

But the International Trade Secretary warns that the short-terms gains for UK households and business will be limited. The UK already has trade deals with 7 of the 11 countries. The reality is that CPTPP nations account for less than 10% of UK exports, a fraction of what it was doing with the EU.

But commentators say that the real advantages could emerge in the future, particular if the US joins, as President Biden has hinted. That would allow a back door deal for trade with the US without necessarily having an individual trade deal with the US.

In total, CPTPP nations accounted for 8.4% of UK exports in 2019.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP was hammered out late last year and is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The 15 member countries account for about 30% of the world’s population (2.2 billion people) and 30% of global GDP as of 2020, making it the biggest trade bloc in history.

Unifying the preexisting bilateral agreements between the 10 member ASEAN and 5 of its major trade partners, the RCEP was signed on 15 November 2020 at a virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam.

With the US locked out of RCEP and currently not part of CPATPP, plus its ongoing trade war with China, the US economy is waging an expensive gamble with its isolationist trade policies.

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