Ahead of the next APF in 2016, the forum’s organizing committee has not decided whether to hold the meeting in Laos, which will assume chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN coalition next year, because civil society groups from the region are concerned about the safety of human rights defenders in the country.
Radio Free Asia: 24 April 2015
Freedom of religion and expression topped the areas of discussion for Vietnamese civil groups attending forums on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia Friday, during which they engaged with their counterparts and government officials from the region.
The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) is being held on April 21-24 to provide civil society groups with a platform to address the organization’s leaders through workshops on various rights issues alongside the ASEAN Summit of Heads of State.
One young Vietnamese presenter, Nguyen Anh Tuan, told RFA that she attended the seminar because she wanted to convey how poor Vietnam’s rights record is compared to other nations in the region and discuss ways to improve it.
“Based on what I know, the human right abuses in Vietnam exceed other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand,” she said.
“During this session, I will try to prove that the human right abuses in Vietnam are systematic and not limited to some areas. They are everywhere and include freedom of religion, expression, information and association.”
At the People’s Forum on freedom of religion, Vietnamese presenters displayed photos of religious leaders, including Mennonite pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh and Catholic priest Ngo The Binh of Tam Toa church, who have been harassed and beaten. Continue reading