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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Human Rights Council: Speak out strongly for civil society protection

(Geneva) - Members of the UN's top human rights body should support the positive contribution of civil society to the protection of human rights, and resist attempts to undermine a resolution intended to respond to the global crackdown on civil society, a group of more than 240 civil society groups said today.

In an open letter addressed to member States of the Human Rights Council, the organisations spanning across all regions of the world called on delegations to support the draft resolution on the protection of civil society space, to be considered for adoption at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council later this week.

The resolution, proposed by Chile, Ireland, Japan, Sierra Leone and Tunisia was developed through broad consultation with States and civil society and in the past was adopted by consensus. It is based on the UN High Commissioner's report on civil society space, and highlights the important role civil society actors play in contributing to peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. It also includes a number of positive measures on promoting and protecting civic space and requests OHCHR to develop a report on the participation of civil society across the UN and regional and international organisations.

Despite the important normative standards set out in the resolution the Russian Federation has presented adverse amendments seeking to undermine the core international human rights principles articulated in the resolution. The joint civil society letter calls on States to reject the amendments, and adopt the resolution as presented.

In March 2016, the Human Rights Council rejected a similar series of amendments presented by the Russian Federation and other States, at the time seeking to undermine a resolution protecting human rights defenders who work on economic, social and cultural rights. During the current session of the Council, Russia, Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC except Albania), China and others have also presented a large number of amendments on the resolutions on sexual orientation and gender identity, on violence against women and the protection of human rights on the Internet.

'The tactic to present a large number of formal amendments clearly seeks to problematise issues, such as the protection of civil society space, and aims at crippling the Council's role in speaking out against human rights violations, and providing policy guidance to States to correct them', said Michael Ineichen, ISHR's Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy.

'And the substance of the amendments - including in the areas of registration of NGOs, access of civil society to funding, and protecting against reprisals - would serve to justify and perpetuate human rights violations in many of the States proposing them', Mr Ineichen said.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM)- GBM 5th AGM Press Release

Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM), a coalition of 28 non-governmental organizations, concluded its 5th Annual General Meeting 2016 on the 18th June 2016 at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. Tan Yew Sing, former president of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, stepped down as the Chair of the coalition after two terms.  The AGM elected a new team of leadership for the coalition with Zaid Kamaruddin, who is the deputy president of Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia, being elected as the new Chair of GBM.

In the opening speech of the outgoing Chair, Tan Yew Sing highlighted that Malaysia is currently suffering from two national crises and they are: first, the deterioration of politicians’ integrity and credibility; second, the escalation of ethno-religious exclusion and disharmony.

He pointed out that the 1MDB scandal has made Malaysia infamous in the eyes of the world, with Malaysia landed second of the five worst countries plagued by corruption by Time Magazine. Despite the Attorney-General having already cleared the Prime Minister, the case is still being investigated by relevant authorities in several countries. 

He said even plans of the opposition joining hands with Mahathir and other UMNO dissidents to overthrow Najib did not work as public took that as being driven by political expediency to grab power without concrete agenda of institutional reforms. 

Tan expressed his concerns that ethno-religious exclusion and disharmony issues have increased since the GE13 with election outcome spun as a “Chinese Tsunami” while Bersih 4 peaceful rally was labelled as a challenge of the Chinese to the Malays’ political power.

He further pointed out that religion was also used as a tool to create walls between communities, citing “cross phobia” cases in Petaling Jaya and Langkawi where a cross were forced to be removed and the roof of a building had to be reconstructed, while the introduction of “halal” trolleys and lifts further entrenched segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims. 

Tan also criticized the fasttracking of Hadi’s Bill by government minister as political opportunism and reflected a dangerous shift in the position of Barisan Nasional government. He said the bill posed a challenge to the secular nature of the country as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement. He called on the 1963 Malaysia Agreement to be faithfully upheld and no changes should be made without a comprehensive revisiting of the constitutional arrangement,  

Tan urged the citizens of Malaysia to work hard to forge consensus on two major issues, namely islamisation and affirmative action. he further called on the civil society and business community provide leadership when and where politicians have failed. He cited examples among GBM, members in Negeri Sembilan and Sungai Petani, Kedah where Chinese schools and schools run by IKRAM have come together to have dialogues and joint cultural activities. 

The AGM adopted a resolution calling for the start of a new and more matured politics in Malaysia where ethnic identities should be celebrated and religious believes should be fully respected and not exploited for any political mileage and diving the nation.

The list of newly elected Executive Council (Exco) members of GBM is as below:

Chair: Zaid Kamaruddin (Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia)
Deputy Chair: Tan Yew Sing (Merdeka University Berhad)
Secretary: Seah Hong Yee (ENGAGE)
Assistant Secretary: Stanley Yong Yew Wei (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall)
Treasurer: Raghavan Annamalai (Tamil Foundation) 

Exco Members:

Sevan Doraisamy (SUARAM)
Leong Yik Loong (Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall)
Wong Piang Yow (Tindak Malaysia)
Prematilaka KD Serisena (Majlis Perundingan Mlaysian Agama Buddha, Kritisian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MCCBCHST))
Christopher Chong Eu Choong (Aliran)
Yow Lee Fung (LLG Cultural Development Centre)

18 June, 2016

Wednesday, 15 June 2016


At a recent POHAM discussion on the Rohingya issues held on May 19, 2016 at BAC-PJ campus
Saturday - June 18 , 1.30 pm at White Box, Publika

Datuk Denison Jayasooria will present  “HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS & REMEDIES: THE ROHINGYA CASE”, an Ethnic Studies Paper, published by KITA-UKM in March 2016, which documents the issues and concerns of the Rohingya people.

The Rohingya concerns are articulated from the basis as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as violation of UN Human Rights Conventions such as the civil and political rights as well as the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The discussion on the Rohingya community enhances our understanding on how to analyse ethnic and religious concerns of minorities from a human rights framework. This enables a holistic approach in ensuring that all communities, however diverse from the dominant community, have their rights and freedoms respected, recognised and protected.

This presentation on 18 June, 2016 at 1.30 pm in White Box, Publika, will review this new publication and provide an update of the contemporary situation of the Rohingya community. PROHAM is working to ensure that both Malaysia and ASEAN plays an active role in effectively addressing the issues and concerns of ethnic and religious minorities including the concerns of the Rohingya community.


The presentation is held at WHITEBOX@Publika, where the Odysseys Photographic Exhibition has been held from 7 – 18 June 2016.

The Exhibition, jointly organised by Agence France-Presse (AFP), The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), depicts AFP’s images from the Asia and Europe refugee crises.

In May 2015, photos of rickety boats stranded in the Andaman Sea packed with desperate men, women, and children from Myanmar and Bangladesh made international headlines, a searing reminder that Europe was not the only continent experiencing a refugee crisis.

Agence France-Presse (AFP), in partnership with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), revisits its coverage from Europe and Asia with an exhibition of photos from the twin crises, entitled “Odysseys.”

The exhibition, which kicked off in Bangkok and now is in Kuala Lumpur before continuing on to Jakarta, documents the desperation and suffering endured by these families as they sought a better life.

The images depict anxious parents helping children over razor-wire fences on the Syria-Turkey border; mass graves at Thai and Malaysian jungle prison camps; exhausted refugees marching down Eastern European roads; packed shelters in Indonesia; and wrecked boats lying in a haunting sea of discarded life jackets on the Greek coast.