At a time when ASEAN is witnessing an alarming increase in human rights abuses, restrictions on civil liberties, and a shrinking of democratic space in a number of its member states, what kind of example does this year’s ASEAN Chair, Laos, set for the regional bloc?
The enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone in December 2012, ongoing arbitrary detentions, and extremely tight controls on the media and civil society have instilled an environment of fear, silence, and repression in Laos. Little news about the serious human rights abuses occurring in the country ever comes out in the media, allowing the continued violation of basic liberties.
“Humanity & Nature,” a workshop on traditional and alternative perspectives about humanity’s relationship with the environment was held on August 4th at the ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) in Dili, Timor Leste.
Topics discussed included Sombath’s work and philosophy, holistic education, gross national happiness, traditional wisdom, and agro-ecology. A video from an earlier workshop on these issues was also shared.
Government-appointed CSO representatives from the Lao PDR also briefly attended, apparently to monitor who was participating. Others stood for a picture of solidarity just after the event.
Lao civil society representatives made it clear that Sombath’s name, among other issues, would not be welcome at a ACSC/APF event held in Laos. For this and other reasons, the event was moved to Timor-Leste.
“Humanity and Nature” will be held from 16:15-18:15 PM on August 4th in room two of the Alola Foundation.
Ng Shui Meng, Spouse of Sombath Somphone
Genito Santana, Kdadalak Sulimutuk Instititute
Cheek Sophea, Focus on the Global South
Myrna Dominguez, Integrated Rural Development Foundation
This presentation was part of the Sombath Symposium on “Humanity and Nature: Traditional, Cultural and Alternative Perspectives”, the objective of which was to present and discuss knowledge and practice drawn from different cultures and traditions that can serve as an alternative foundation to the predominant growth-driven development model.
An economy is often defined as “the wealth and resources of a country or region”. Few would contest that the greatest wealth and most fundamental resource for humanity is the earth on which we live; yet most do not see our environment as an economy in itself. Conversely, nearly all contemporary economic and development models see the natural economy as a resource to be exploited (or at best managed) to serve the needs of the monetized economy.
While this perspective is certainly predominant, it is neither intrinsic nor universal. It is also increasingly proving to be unsustainable.
Focus on the Global South and The Sombath Initiative, in cooperation with the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, held the Sombath Symposium on February 15-17, 2016, to present and discuss knowledge and practice drawn from different cultures and traditions that can serve as an alternative foundation to the predominant growth-driven development model.
This publication, “Humanity and Nature: Traditional, Cultural and Alternative Perspectives”, compiles essays discussing these perspectives, as well as syntheses of the different parts of the symposium. The Sombath Initiative and Focus on the Global South hope that this publication will serve as resource material, as well as a guide document for the ongoing and future work on alternative perspectives on humanity’s relationship with nature.
This public forum will share the key lessons and conclusions from the Sombath Symposium, a three day event which aims to exchange and explore various traditional, cultural and alternative perspectives on how humans value and interact with nature.
Participants of symposium will come from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia, and India, and represent a wide range of ethnic, cultural, religious and vocational backgrounds and perspectives.
The forum will also be joined by local community and activists from Thailand to contribute to the discussion on their struggles to protect the nature and livelihood.
Organised by Focus on the Global South and the Sombath Initiative, in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation
English-Thai-English translation will be provided
Lunch will be served at 12:30 at SASA International House
For more information about this event and to confirm attendance please contact Hamdee Tohming at [email protected] or 089-004-4117.