There has been a shaky start to the 14th annual summit of leaders of the ten South East Asian countries that make up ASEAN. With a theme of an “ASEAN Charter for ASEAN Peoples,” there was meant to be dialogue between civil society groups and leaders.But Myanmar and Cambodia threatened to walk out if any such groups from their countries were involved. So organisers kept them away. Human rights campaigners accused ASEAN of hypocrisy. Yuyun Wahyuningrum from Forum Asia said: “They have a vision of creating a caring, sharing community but now the ASEAN governments, instead of trying to prove this intention, they act differently. They choose who will be coming, and who will be out.” ASEAN covers a diverse collection of countries. The absolute monarchy of Brunei, the emerging democracies in Indonesia and the Philippines, and the military-run dictatorship in Myanmar with an unenviable human-rights record. Campaigners have frequently criticised ASEAN’s policy of non-intervention, and lack of action on human rights.
Human rights in spotlight at ASEAN