Who will choose Lao ACSC/APF participants?

While the Lao PDR was not able to host the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum last year, applications for participants from Laos to this year’s event in Manila are open.

Criteria include (unofficial English translation):

  1. ​ເປັນພົນລະເມືອງລາວທີ່ມາຈາກອົງການຈັດຕັ້ງຕ່າງໆ, ສະມາຄົມ ແລະ ມຸນນິທິ​ ທີ່ມີ​ຄວາມສົນໃຈກ່ຽວກັບວຽກງານພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ. Lao citizen from various organisations (associations and foundations) with an interest in ASEAN civil society work.
  2. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມສາມາດໃນການສື່ສານ ແລະ ເຂົ້າໃຈພາສາອັງກິດດີສົມຄວນ. Reasonably able to communicate in and understand English.
  3. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມເຂົ້າໃຈດີສົມຄວນ​ກ່ຽວກັບວຽກງານ​ຂອງອົງການຈັດຕັ້ງທາງສັງຄົມ ແລະ ວຽກງານເວທີ​ພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ. Appropriate knowledge of the work of social-sector organisations and ASEAN fora.
  4. ຜູ້ທີ່ມີປະສົບການຜ່ານຈາກກອງປະຊຸມ​ເວທີພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ ແລະ ເຂົ້າຮ່ວມກິດຈະກຳ​ພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ ຫລື ຢູຣົບ ແມ່ນຈະໄດ້ຮັບພິຈາລະນາພິເສດ. Those with past experience at the ACSC/APF and attendance at activities for ASEAN or European forums will be give special consideration.
  5. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີ​ເວລາເພື່ອເຂົ້າຮ່ວມ ແລະ ປະກອບສ່ວນເຂົ້າກິດຈະກຳຕ່າງໆຢູ່ພາຍໃນ ແລະວຽກ​ງານພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນຢ່າງຫ້າວຫັນ. Sufficient time to attend and activitely participate in various internal and ASEAN civil society actvities.
  6. ເປັນຜູ້ທີ່ມີຄວາມສາມາດກຸ້ມຕົນເອງໃນການໃຊ້ຈ່າຍເຂົ້າຮ່ວມກອງປະຊຸມເວທີ​ພາກປະຊາຊົນ​ອາຊຽນ​ຍິ່ງເປັນການດີ. Abilty to pay own costs for attending the ACSC/APF.

Applicants can send a letter of interest to assi…@lao-cso-network.org  before 23 June.

Participants will be selected by the APF Committee, although the makeup of this committee is not specified.

Apparently, members of Lao civil society who are not selected will not be allowed to attend.

Sombath, Humanity & Nature at ASCS/APF

Dili-APF-2016-03“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.

Limited Freedom of Expression

ACSC-APF 2016 LogoThe ACSC/APF 2016 will not take place in Lao PDR, due to concerns over possible restrictions and limited freedom of expression on key issues of concerns of ASEAN which are inconsistent with the agreed ACSC/APF’s modality of engagement.

From the CSO Statement of the 2016 ACSC/APF recently held in Timor Leste. Ironically, the forum’s Regional Steering Committee imposed their own restrictions and limitations by releasing the statement before participants at the forum could voice their concerns on its contents.

Workshop on Sombath at ACSC/APF

ACSC-APF-2016-Humanity & NatureLao 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.

Speakers include:

  • 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
  • Sam Zarifi, International Commission of Jurists

Upcoming Asean forum must listen to Lao civil society

Bangkok Post: 02 August 2016

Sombath Somphone was disappeared at a police checkpoint near Vientiane more than three years ago, and the Laos government refuses to discuss his case. (File photo by Chanat Katanyu) 

The Asean Civil Society Conference/Asean Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) which is to take place today in Dili, Timor-Leste appears to be clouded by uncertainty and fears.

Concerns have emerged as there have been no indications that the three-day meeting, as stated during preparatory events in March and May, can provide a safe space for Laos’ progressive and independent civil society organisations (CSOs) — a space where they can offer critiques, raise concerns and voice dissenting opinions on various issues, including human rights violations, forced disappearances and the negative impact of infrastructure development projects on ordinary peoples’ lives.

By safe, I mean that even in the presence of government-sponsored NGO representatives, the voices of members of independent CSOs shall be heard. That they shall be allowed to organise and conduct their own panels and don’t feel threatened or intimidated. (more…)