According to a new report released by CIVICUS, a global coalition of civil society organizations and activists that track fundamental freedoms around the world, restrictions and attacks on activists continue throughout Asia from Myanmar to Cambodia and Vietnam.
CIVICUS stated in a report released on Wednesday that four of the 26 Asian countries or regions—China, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam—are considered “closed”, while Myanmar was in February. One of the countries “suppressed” after 1 day. Military coup and suppression.
Overall, it rated 11 Asian countries as “repressed” and seven “blocked”. Singapore passed “Anti-Fake News” Act, According to the report titled “People Power Attacked in 2021”.
“A staggering number of people in Asia live in countries where civic space is closed or repressed, and their freedom to speak, organize, or mobilize is severely restricted,” said Josef Benedict, a researcher at CIVICUS in the Asia-Pacific region.
“When the authoritarian leaders in Asia sought to retain power, they had deployed restrictive laws to arrest and criminalize human rights defenders. Dozens of activists and journalists were put in prison and faced unwarranted charges. Some He was also tortured and ill-treated.”
What is particularly worrying is MyanmarThe report stated that “after the military coup in February 2021, the military government arbitrarily detained thousands of protesters, and some were even subjected to lethal force”.
According to the Association of Political Prisoners Aid (AAPP), a rights organization that tracks deaths and detentions, as of Wednesday, at least 1,305 people have been killed as a result of the military suppression of anti-coup protests. At least 10,756 people have been arrested.
“Basic freedom is declining rapidly”
The report pointed out that Myanmar “fundamental freedoms declined rapidly” after the coup, “suppressed protests, arrested, detained and convicted hundreds of activists, targeted journalists, and tortured and ill-treated politicians.” prisoner. “
The CIIVICUS report released as early as November also pointed out “A wave of atrocities” allegedly committed by the military in Chin State, Myanmar, Borders India in the west of the country.
It urged the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to “consolidate international operations” to stop the military’s violent attacks on the people of Myanmar.
Declining freedom is part of the global trend. CIVICUS data shows that 89% of the world’s population now lives in countries that are “closed, repressed, or blocked”, and governments sometimes use COVID-19 as a cover to expand their control.
Benedict said: “Not only do the authorities refuse to listen to the demands of the people, they sometimes use excessive or deadly force to disrupt peaceful protests in many countries under the guise of a pandemic.”
However, during the attack, he stated that civil society “has not slackened and is looking for new ways to fight back and demand their rights.”
At the same time, the CIVICUS report stated that in Vietnam, activists and bloggers face long-term penalties for “anti-state propaganda” and “abuse of democratic freedom”, while in Cambodia, the law of “incitement” is “Used systematically to target dozens of militants”.
Reduce civic space
In Asia, the most serious civil violation this year was the use of restrictive laws in 21 countries/regions because the government used legislation to suppress dissent.
Human rights defenders in at least 19 countries have been detained under such laws and prosecuted in 11 countries.
CIVICUS stated that it is downgrading the affluent Singaporean city-state from “obstructing” to “suppressing” as it tries to “suppress dissent.”
The report said that journalists and bloggers also face defamation charges and high fines, and the country’s “vaguely worded” contempt of court law has been used to prosecute activists who criticize the court “under the guise of protecting the judicial system”. . A sort of Foreign interference law The bill passed in October raised new concerns about the impact on the island’s already heavily regulated media.
According to CIVICUS, the civic space of Japan, Mongolia, South Korea and Australia has also been “shrinked”. Taiwan and New Zealand were rated as “open”.
“In practice, this means that the basic freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and association of most countries in the region is not respected,” it said.
China also continues to prosecute dozens of human rights defenders in Hong Kong for vaguely worded crimes. “Strict” national security laws According to the report, it has been weaponized to target dozens of activists.
In Thailand, the government sometimes uses excessive force, including live ammunition, to disrupt democratic protests.
Thai authorities also Use criminal defamation laws to “criminalize” activists and critics, including slandering the king or royal slander, The report said.
It pointed out that this defamation legislation was also used for critics of politicians in Malaysia, and it was also used for online dissent in Bangladesh.
In Indonesia, activists protesting the renewal of the Papua Special Self-Government Law were detained, while in Malaysia, the authorities “try to stifle” several anti-government protests organized by young people and government critics.
The report found that despite the threats to civil liberties, there is still some good news.
Civil space in Mongolia After the country passed a new law to protect defenders in April, the rating was “upgraded from blocked to reduced,” making it the first country in Asia to provide a legal framework for their protection.
Other “positive developments” include activists asking Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to respond International Criminal Court, And the legalization of same-sex relationships in Bhutan.