The People Over Profit Network, a global campaign network of people’s organizations and non-governmental organizations that resists corporate plunder and neoliberal trade and investment, congratulates all the organizations of Southeast Asia for holding the 2019 ASEAN Peoples Forum (APF) in Thailand.
Amid the attempt of state actors, particularly of Thailand and Indonesia to sabotage this year’s APF, people’s organizations (POs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) remain determined to reveal the common realities and struggles of the peoples in Southeast Asia. Democratic spaces are shrinking because rising authoritarianism has perpetrated alarming cases of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, criminalization, and illegal arrests of activists. Governments heighten threats to shut down people’s organizations while communities fighting for their rights to lands and resources are under deliberate and relentless attacks.
Military rule continues to plague Burma and Mindanao, Philippines with de facto martial law in Central Visayas while colonialist and militarist aggression targets Indigenous communities in West Papua. Even during the APF, Indonesian state agents have harassed West Papuan rights defenders as well as organizations who stand in solidarity with their struggle. The onslaught of neoliberal and fascist attacks which aim to silence peoples’ assertions of their rights have killed hundreds of human rights defenders across Southeast Asia. These attacks further serve the neoliberal agenda of trade and investment in the interests of the corporate elite, especially for dominant monopoly capitalist powers such as US and Japan, and rising interests of China to intensify the plunder of resources, exploit and oppress peoples, and worsen both poverty and ecological crisis.
This situation in Southeast Asia calls for our movements, POs and CSOs to assert our peoples’ rights and strengthen our united front with our organized and collective power at community and national levels to end fascist attacks and corporate plunder.
Indeed, we look to the examples of continued peoples’ assertions in the region. The Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT) has been fighting against systemic land grabbing schemes. West Papuan activists and rights defenders have been resisting US-backed Indonesian colonization, mining extractivism and rampant rights violations. Karen groups and other movements in Burma have been fighting against resource plunder and military junta. Rights defenders in the Philippines including workers, farmers and Indigenous Peoples continue to struggle against impunity and strongly urge an impartial UN probe to investigate the brutal war on drugs, extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.
While facing threats of resource plunder, Indigenous Lumad are pursuing their right to self-determination through alternative grassroots institutions such as community-based education and sustainable agricultural practices. Members of the Asian Peasant Coalition in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand are launching land occupation campaigns as a concrete way of reclaiming their rights to land and collectively implementing sustainable agriculture.
We enjoin POs and movements to advance people-to-people solidarity; share lessons from our struggles and strengthen people’s assertions in our communities. We challenge governments to address people’s demands and assertions, which if remain unheeded would only drive peoples to strengthen resistance even further.
We continue our resistance to fascist attacks and corporate plunder by strengthening peoples’ movements. Our hope comes in harnessing our movements’ energies to create structural changes in the region through our collective and militant assertion, vis-a-vis prevailing neoliberalism in ASEAN governments’ economic policy, global powers’ struggles for influence in the region, and attacks on people’s fundamental freedoms.
Realizing the peoples’ right as primary decision-makers in economic and development policy and holding the state and corporate actors accountable for rights violations should be the primary agenda, over creating deceptive layer of mechanisms and divisive “new” modes of integration in the region, which will only complement official ASEAN processes.
Stop the attacks! Defend peoples’ rights!
Resist fascist attacks and corporate plunder!
Southeast Asia is not for sale, we are not for sale!