Friday, July 30, 2004

New Tension Emerge in India-Pakistan Peace Efforts

Seven months after India and Pakistan began a peace effort, signs of strain are emerging.

Pakistani officials are expressing growing frustration over the failure of the two countries to engage in a detailed discussion of Kashmir, the disputed territory over which the nuclear-armed neighbors nearly fought a third war in 2002.

Indian officials, saying the process should not be rushed, accuse Pakistan of failing to dismantle militants' camps and charge that the infiltration of Pakistani-backed militants into the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir has resumed in recent weeks. American diplomats, who also called for the dismantling of training camps earlier this month, say they continue to back the peace efforts strongly. A peace agreement between India and Pakistan is considered vital to stabilizing Pakistan and Afghanistan, two major fronts in the American-led effort to curb terrorism.

The dispute over the majority Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir, a small but staggeringly beautiful Himalayan territory that India and Pakistan claim, is one of the most stubborn in the world, rivaling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its passions, suspicions and deadlock.

When India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947, Kashmir's Hindu maharaja acceded to majority Hindu India. Majority Muslim Pakistan, maintaining that Kashmir belonged to it, has demanded that Kashmiris be allowed to vote for independence or to join India or Pakistan.

The nuclear armed rivals have fought two wars over Kashmir, with the first leaving the territory divided between them. Since 1989 Pakistan has covertly backed a separatist insurgency by Islamic militants against India, which has killed between 40,000 and 80,000 people.

Some of the oveview about the conflict of the Kashmir also can get from the BBC.

(courtesy to New York Times)

Thursday, July 29, 2004

More on WTO July Framework

The so-called “July Framework” issued by the head of the WTO General Council is so unbalanced in favor of the interests of the US and the EU that one wonders where these governments have been since the unraveling of the trade body’s ministerial in Seattle in 1999.

In the most contentious area, agriculture, the framework amounts to nothing other than an intricate exercise to accommodate influential agro-trade interests in Brussels and Washington. For the latter, the July Framework proposes an enlarged “Blue Box” that would house much of the $100 billion in subsidies appropriated for farming interests by the US Farm Bill of 2002. For the EU, the document proposes protection from substantive tariff for so-called “sensitive products,” meaning agricultural commodities that make up to 20-40 per cent of its tariff lines.

Meanwhile, nothing concrete is offered to meet the developing countries’ demands for market access restrictions that would preserve their food security and protect their small farmers from unfair competition. These concerns are left to “future negotiations.” Perhaps the most blatant example of double standards is the text’s postponing to future negotiations the West African cotton producing countries’ demand for an end to the scandalous $2.8 billion in cotton subsidies by the US, which has caused much hardship among West African farmers by triggering the collapse of the price of cotton globally.

The bias against the interests of developing countries goes beyond agriculture. The July Framework’s proposal in the area of industrial commodities simply resurrects the so-called “Derbez Text” that was roundly rejected in Cancun. With its proposal of steep cuts in many of their manufacturing tariff lines, developing countries have denounced the July text as nothing but a prescription for their de-industrialization.

The Framework also unilaterally brings back for negotiation the issue of “trade facilitation,” one of the so-called “New Issues” that the Doha Ministerial in 1991 agreed could not be negotiated unless there was explicit consensus among all members. Also infuriating is its mentioning its intention to address the global South’s central issues—implementation of onerous WTO rules and the principle “special and differential treatment” for developing countries —without offering any specific proposals but leaving these, as in agriculture, to “future negotiations.”

The developing countries have waited nearly 10 years for the trade superpowers that dominate the WTO to show sensitivity to their efforts to change global trade from being an instrument of their domination to serving as a mechanism to advance their economic development. For this patience, they have been rewarded with a succession of anti-development negotiating frameworks and texts culminating in the July Framework. Thus, as they deliberate on the text during the last days of this month, developing country governments should consider the fact that rejecting the July text may no longer suffice. It is time they actively explore or create other trade mechanisms or frameworks to make development and trade complementary. Development is a goal that can no longer be pursued within a WTO paradigm.

(Courtesy to Focus on Global South)

Call Action in Sudan: End Human Rights Crisis Now!

World's worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Sudan's western region of Darfur, the United Nations have stated that one million people have fled their homes and up to 50,000 people have been killed.

Human rights violations are being carried out on a massive scale by the Janjawid, a government-backed militia, which often operates alongside government troops. A document that show the ties between the government and the Janjawid was confirmed.

The testimonies collected by Amnesty International all bear witness to what appears to be a systematic campaign of abuse. Men have been killed inside mosques, women raped in front of their husbands and old women killed when their homes have been set alight – all acts designed to humiliate and destroy the fabric of community life, over and beyond the individual atrocity.

Although governments around the world, together with organizations such as the African Union, the European Union and the Arab League have lined up to condemn human rights violations in Darfur, their fine words have failed to translate into decisive action.

It is the time for the international community to ACT NOW. We all should have the courage of its convictions and apply the strongest pressure on the government of Sudan to rein in the Janjawid and end human rights violations in Darfur.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Alerts from WTO General Council Meeting!

Wow, something interesting happened in Geneva.

According to the Third World Network (TWN) Info Service, WTO officials at a media briefing on Monday 26 July indicated that after the General Council suspends sitting on Tuesday morning, it will reconvene late on Friday to formally take a decision on the July package. In between, there will be informal meetings. A revised version of the draft text of the July package is to be made available on Wednesday, and between then and the time the General Council reconvenes, there will be a series of consultations among delegates to deal with persisting divergencies among delegates in the four issues covered by the text.

For the Oxfam, they also released the briefing paper entitled with "One Minute to Midnight: Will WTO negotiations in July deliver a meaningful agreement?". For your information, it will be interesting to follow the update of the progress.

According to Walden Bello, from the Focus for the Global South, the July Framework has to be rejected due to the 4 reasons:

1. The Framework for Agriculture is simply an exercise to devise increasingly intricate mechanisms to accommodate the United States and European Union efforts to maintain the high levels of subsidization of their agricultural interests behind a smokescreen of vague promises to address the concerns of developing countries.

2. The Framework for Market Access for Non-Agricultural Products (NAMA) simply reproduces a text rejected in Cancun by the developing countries since it amounts to nothing less than a prescription for their deindustrialization.

3. The Framework on Trade Facilitation is nothing but a stubborn effort on the part of the trading powers to keep alive an issue that lacks the necessary explicit consensus of all members to be a subject of negotiation.

4. Lip service is paid to the main concerns of developing countries, specifically, the cotton issue, special and differential treatment, development, and implementation, but they are actually treated as secondary issues the negotiation of which is consigned to future negotiations and left in the air.

The ASA always very critical to the WTO and other international institution who only served the benefits of the developed or rich cooperates. The economic justice in this world will be sacrificed with the existance of the WTO.

Now the ASA also actively participate in the Hong Kong local organization with the local mobilization works. We hope that more people in Hong Kong will know more about the WTO and its impacts on the people life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Urgent Call for Action: Uzbekistan Authoritarian Measurements

We have received this urgent call for action from women groups in Uzbekistan.

Sweeping and stringent measures introduced recently by Uzbekistan authoritarian government threaten, among other basic rights, the existence of the country independent progressive women non-governmental organisations(NGOs). Many NGOs have been forced to abandon their work and advise staff to find alternative employment.

We urge you to act to ensure that such independent women NGOs can continue to make their positive contribution to the promotion and protection of women rights and to the overall development of Uzbekistan society.

Please demand the withdrawal of the 25 May 2004 Decree on the re-registration of women NGOs under the Committee of Women of Uzbekistan. While the NGO sector requires
regulation and while money laundering is indeed a concern,these must not be used as an excuse just to silence political opposition and those who seek to reveal the realities of women poor status in the country.

It is WLUML experience that suppression of independent progressive groups, like women rights groups, fuels fundamentalisms such as those that have been gaining
ground in the Central Asian region over the last few years. This is one more example of a global trend to control progressive NGOs.

In solidarity,
Women Living Under Muslim Laws
International Coordination Office

Important Announcement

Greetings from the Secretariat!

The World Youth Festival in Barcelona from August 8 to 14 is very close from now. We hope that all of you have prepared all the documents and materials that might be useful to share with the youth and students around the world.

There are some important stuffs that you must prepare before your departure to Barcelona:
1. Paper presentation on the impacts of globalization on education in your respective countries.

2. Paper presentation on the current national issues such as conflict of war on terror and democracy development.

3. National or traditional costumes, fashion and other materials that can present the participants about the Asian culture.

4. Any kind of the documentaries, films and photos that can present the cultural, language and other customs of the Asia.

5. Some special games, funny jokes and interactive activities that might get the interest and the attention of the participants.

For your information, we hope all of you can arrive in Barcelona before August 8. There will be a brief meeting on the evening of the August 7. The main purpose of the briefing is to provide the ASA delegates have the picture and understand their roles in the proper program of the World Youth Festival.

We shall always update the information about the technical arrangement. Hope to see you all in Barcelona. Any further clarification can refer to the ASA secretariat.

Let's join the festival and burn the Asian spirits there!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Dear readers,

Warmest greetings from the ASA secretariat!

From 8th July to 14th July, the ASA office in HK will empty due to all the secretariat members out of HK. Three of them have different occasion in different countries.

Madhav will in Nepal to meet his new born baby. Actually he was in Paris before he went back to Kathmandu. We hope he will enjoy his stay in Nepal with his family.

Rey is now in the Geneva for the GCCC meeting. This meeting will be attended by the different regional youth organizations and the international organization to discuss about the recent international issues and the further cooperation.

For Khai Loon, he go back to his hometown to join his brother wedding. After that, he will stay in Bangkok for the preparation of the South East Asia Women Training Program.

Please always update with us and we shall keep our struggles going on.

See you soon!

Monday, July 05, 2004

July 5: Polls open Indonesian Presidential election

In 1999, after resignation of the former Indonesian President Suharto because of the REFORMASI (reformation movement), there was a free election held to elect the Legislative members. The election follows a messy transition to democracy, marred by political chaos, economic crisis and bomb attacks.

July 5, 2004 will be another historical moments for the Indonesian people because they have the rights to determine who will be their nation leader. The presidential direct election is a very significant and meaningful for the democracy development in the South East Asia and the world.

Furthermore, Indonesian have the largest Muslim population in the world. It can be the reference for many Islamic countries in the world especially Afghanistan, Iraq and many of the Third world countries. We knew that almost all Islamic and the Third World countries still under the ruling of the undemocratic and repressive government. The people still suffer from their repressive acts.

The Indonesian democracy may bring a lot of chaos and even political unstability, but this is the process that the people and the political leaders have to learn. Through the process the people can practice their rights to get involve in the nation building that benefit the general people.

Only the people who are in power will not prefer to the democracy because it will only limit their power to control the people. The democracy system will always make their status quo challengable. The arguments of the negative effects of the democracy always come from the people who want to remain the status quo.

Democracy may not the best solution for the current problems but it can minimize the risks of create a tyranny, dictator or repressive government. At least, the president have to get through majority to become the President.

The Indonesian Presidential election is the focus of the democracy development in the region. More than 150 million Indonesians are eligible to vote in the direct presidential elections. In order to win outright, one of the five contenders must get more than 50% of these votes. If no one does, there will be a run-off between the top two candidates in September in a second round of voting.

Let's keep our eye on Indonesia. Make sure the people will enjoy the fruit of the democracy.

Friday, July 02, 2004

What is the response from the Beijing Government?

After the July 1 mass rally with the 530,000 protesters turnout to call for the universal suffrage, many of the people is so curious and looking forward the response of the Beijing government.

Even the Chief Executive Tung Chee Wah expressed the SAR government listened the call of the protesters, the Hong Kong people not really care about the statement of Tung. He lost his credibilities and confident from the Hong Kong people. Even he said the SAR will seriously response to the people calls, people still not trust his statement because he didn't even answer the journalists questions. He really needs to present a concrete action to response to the people demands.

Then who are the main the actors in this incident? We knew that the people of Hong Kong already asked and demanded the political rights from the Beijing government. Even some of the investors already express that the mass rally will not affect the attraction of the foreign direct investment (FDI). Therefore, this is the time for the Beijing government to positively response the people's mass rally.

Once again, the Beijing government reaffirmed that the foreign countries should not interfere the internal affairs of the China. After the handover, Hong Kong enjoy the freedom, democracy and the high degree of autonomy.

Another resources that we can assess the responses from the mass media in China. The main Communist Party newspaper, People's Daily, citing an unnamed person in the Chinese Foreign Ministry liaison office in Hong Kong said "The people of Hong Kong have always maintained the right and freedom to assemble, march and protest"

The report said some marchers used slogans that were "inappropriate and not in keeping with the common aspirations of the Hong Kong people for stability, development and harmony."

With this kind of response, I don't think it will cool down or even satisfied the people's demand. Let us see someone from the higher level position leadership will provide their opinion and view.

July 1: What it means to Hong Kong People?

July 1 is the day for the 7th Anniversary of the Hong Kong handover from the British colonial to the People Republic of China. It's a celebration because it's a statutory public holiday.

July 1 also the day for the general Hong Kong people to go on the street and fight for their political rights. Even the yesterda weather in the hottest in the Hong Kong, it didn't stop the people from went to the street and express their demands. There was still 530,000 people turnout even the Beijing central government already denied the universal suffrage in 2007 for the Chief Executive and 2008 for the Legislative Council.

Since last April, the Standing Committee of the National People Committee (NPC) intepreted that Basic Laws that there will be no direct election in 2007 and 2008. It caused a lot of disagreement among the Hong Kong people because of the "interference" of the autonomy of the Hong Kong or even the one country two systems.

Several countries like US, also treat China as one of the rising power that threaten to US superpower, already reiterated their supports to the Hong Kong democracy movement. Former colonial governor in Hong Kong, Chris Patten, who is currently hold the EU External Relation Commissioner said the Hong Kong people should be given a greater political voice in running the enclave.

What do you think about their statements? Are you agree with them that the Hong Kong people should be given more voices?

Protesters carry defaced portraits of pro-China politicans and businessmen during a pro-democracy march in Hong Kong July 1, 2004 on the seventh anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China. They were identify as the main persons that stop the people to have the democracy rights. Posted by Hello

Hong Kong veteran activist Leung Kwok-hung or more known as "Long Hair" shouts as protesters carry a mock coffin that accuses Beijing of violating Hong Kong's political rights with the slogan in Chinese: 'A high degree of autonomy has already been buried.' They were demonstrating on Thursday, July 1, 2004, hours before a massive march was planned by thousands of people.  Posted by Hello

From the sky, you can see that the six lanes road was crowded with the people. The organizer Civil Human Rights Front announced there was 530,000 people turnout. However, the police announced only 200,000 people turnout. Why such big differrent?  Posted by Hello

Even July 1 is the hottest day in the history of Hong Kong, 25 degree celcius, Hong Kong people call for the democracy and the decent life in the future really have strong determination. The protesters using the umbrelas and different banners to express themselves. Posted by Hello

This was the overview from the sky on the crowd in the Victoria Park. The police estimation the number of the people will achieve 170,000 if the whole Victoria Park is full of the people. Posted by Hello

July 1 is the day of the Hong Kong handover to the China from the British Colonial. However, this day become the significant day for the people to go on the street to express themselves about their demands of the future for the Hong Kong Posted by Hello