Saturday, November 10, 2007

Never underestimate the power of expression

Reposting the statement from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) regarding the declaration of martial law in Pakistan. ANFREL was established in 1997 as Asia’s first regional network of civil society organizations. It strives to promote and support democratization at national and regional levels in Asia. Since it was founded, it has served towards strengthening the democratization of countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor and Indonesia. From 1997 onwards until today, ANFREL has also been active in contributing its efforts to capacity building of member and non-member organizations on issues related to election observation, voter/civic education, electoral reform and public awareness for good democratic governance. I have been an ANFREL international election observer in the past and am looking forward to more missions with them.

Asian Civil Society Call for People's Power to be Returned, Constitution and Fundamental Freedoms Must be Upheld in Pakistan

9 November, 2007

We, the undersigned Asian Civil Society groups and organizations, oppose the imposition of emergency rule and suspension of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan. General Musharraf’s use of the situation in the country and justifications for the imposition of emergency rule violate the non-derogable rights, and therefore are in contravention of the international law.

We strongly condemn the arrests of the members of civil society, lawyers and concerned citizens, all of whom can be considered human rights defenders. It has been learnt that the protestors have been badly beaten, arrested and detained. The freedoms of expression, assembly and association have been severely curtailed by the General and all private media channels are unable to relay their news and bring the facts of the events to the people of Pakistan and the international community.

According to news reports, the general elections may be held by mid-January 2008. News reports in the DAWN (daily newspaper of Pakistan) have also quoted Attorney-General Malik Abdul Qayyum as saying that the National and provincial assemblies would be dissolved in 10 days’ time and the general elections held within the next 60 days’.

We reject the sham statement of the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was quoted as saying, “We don’t want to disrupt the election process. We want a free election”. We vehemently oppose all the measures currently used by General Musharraf, which are violating the human rights and democratic principles in the country, while also stringently curtailing the freedoms of thought, expression, assembly and association, fundamental and necessary for a free and fair election in Pakistan.

We call upon the international community to apply pressure to General Musharraf to restore civilian rule and the constitutional order, and to release all the political detainees and human rights defenders. We also call for the restoration of the freedom of the media, to respect the independence of the judiciary, and to hold free and fair elections on time.

Finally, we call for the democratic environment to be re-established and full restoration of all fundamental rights to be upheld before the holding of any electoral activities.

We the undersigned

ASIAN organizations from 15 countries
(Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, East Timor, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Japan, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, 2 regional and 1 international organizations)

1. Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR-Thailand)
2. Independent Committee for Election Monitoring in Indonesia (KIPP-Indonesia)
3. Human Rights & Peace Society (HURPES-Nepal)
4. International Friends for Global Peace (IFGP-Sri Lanka)
5. World Forum Democracy in Asian (WFDA- Taiwan.)
6. Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD- Taiwan.)
7. Free and Fair Elections Foundation for Afghanistan (FEFA-Afghanistan)
8. The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL-Cambodia)
9. The National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI- Malaysia)
10. Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER-Philippines)
11. Friend of the Third World (FTW –Sri Lanka)
12. InterBand (Yokohama-Japan)
13. Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM - Hong Kong)
14. Women Caucus for Politic in Timor Leste (WCPT-East Timor)
15. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP- East Timor)
16. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV-Philippines)
17. Movement for Democracy and Anti Corruption – (MDAC- Malaysian)
18. Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC- Afghanistan)
19. Working Group on Indigenous Communities (YAKSHI -India)
20. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU - Australia)
21. Women Working Group on Livestock Development (Anthra-India)
22. Meepura Publication (Sri Lanka)
23 Centre for Electoral Reform (CETRO - Indonesia)
24. Komunitas SIAGA (Indonesia)
25. Sahabat Tjiliwung (Indonesia)
26. Yayasan Sepakat Musara (Aceh-Indonesia)
27. Yayasan Al-Fatha (Aceh-Indonesia)
28. Yayasan Bina Tani Mandiri (Aceh Indonesia).
29. Democracy Watch (Indonesia)
30. For Indonesian Development (4-indep/Indonesia)
31. PAPAN Foundation (Aceh – Indonesia)
32. Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR – Indonesia)
33. Center for Peoples Dialogue (Sri Lanka)
34. Democracy and Justice (DEKA-Indonesia)
35. Kelompok Lingkar Study –(KELADI Indonesia)
36. Democratic Commission for Human Development (Pakistan)
37. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB-Thailand)
38. Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP-Thailand)
39. Union for Civil Society (UCL-Thailand)
40. Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF-Thailand)
41. Young People for Democracy Movement (YPD - Thailand)
42. Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF-Thailand)
43. Thai Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (Thailand)
44. The Midnight University (Thailand)
45. Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants (ENLAW-Thailand)
46. Student Federation of Thailand (SFT- Thailand)
47. Labor Rights Promotion Network (LPN-Thailand)
48. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL- Regional)
49. Asian Institute for Human Rights (AIHR- Regional)
50. South East Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE-

For further information pls. contact Mr. Ichal Supriadi at 085 8229002 and Mr. Metha Matkow at 081 4555928, Bangkok, Thailand

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I would also like to repost here something I got through e-mail calling for citizens' response to the declaration of martial law. Translation follows below.

English translation as it appeared in the e-mail from Aimal Khan.

Are you afraid to Speak AGAINST the Ruling Dictatorship?



Are you concerned about the Emergency Situation Imposed by Musharraf?

Do you want to see a Better, Peaceful, Progressive and Stable Pakistan?


As an Individual You can:

1. Tie Black Arm Bands/ Wrist Bands/ Head Bands

As a family you can:

2. Hoist a Black Flag on your Home/ Car

As a responsible citizen of Pakistan:

3. You can encourage this Peaceful Protest and spread the word on Black Bands.

REMEMBER: Silence is a form of Admission!


Never Underestimate the Power of Expression!

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