BIWEEKLY BRIEFS: 1-15 FEBRUARY 2021

Biweekly Briefs

(1-15 February 2021)

The following is a brief bringing you highlights of advocacy efforts by APRRN, partners, and what’s upcoming. We hope to provide you with regular updates on our network’s activities and developments in the landscapes of refugee protection in the Asia Pacific region. Should you like to contribute information, resources, or updates, kindly contact Michelle at michelle@aprrn.org.

For the Mailchimp version, please click here.

Advocacy Updates

National

Afghanistan

Australia

  • Founders of Queer Sisterhood Project and Board Directors of the Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN), Renee and Tina Dixson, have been nominated for #2021Impact25 awards. To learn more about the nominees and their impact, kindly see here. Here are some key achievements of FDPN last year.
  • Amnesty International Australia‘s ACT/Southern NSW Activism Leadership Committee is putting together an all-female speaker’s panel looking into the issue of ‘Domestic Violence for Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic’ on 9 March to talk about the experiences of women working in female support services/organisations and women’s refuges in the ACT region. For more info, kindly see here.
  • Following an announcement by President Biden of US to rebuild the refugee resettlement programme and raising the admission ceiling to 125,000, Refugee Council of Australia released a statement, calling on Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to exhibit leadership, to acknowledge shared values with the US, and to consequently reverse recent cuts to Australia’s resettlement program.

Bangladesh

Indonesia

  • The Founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Social Integrity, Myanmar, Aung Kyaw Moe, joined as a panel discussion speaker on the ‘Myanmar Military Coup, ASEAN’s Role and the Challenge for Democracy and Human Rights in the Region’ webinar, organised by Habibie Center, a think-tank based in Jakarta.

Hong Kong

  • Co-Founder of RUN Hong Kong and General Secretary of the Refugee Concern Network, Virginie Goethals, wrote an article on the Hong Kong Free Press highlighting the concerning proposed amendments to the Immigration Ordinance that effectively weaken protection for people seeking asylum and refugees, curtailing their fundamental rights. Members in Hong Kong, including Justice Centre Hong Kong, are urging the Legislative Council to convene a virtual public hearing to include those affected into this important decision-making process.

Japan

  • Amnesty International Japan co-organised a webinar on LGBT and refugees, and ran a campaign, ‘Love Beyond Genders’, urging for anti-discriminatory laws to protect those discriminated based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The campaign also calls for the strengthening of grassroots movements on the issue.

Malaysia

  • NGOs commend Cabinet’s decision to provide access to free vaccination to all foreign citizens under the National Immunisation Programme. This is seen as a step towards non-discriminatory practices in managing the health crisis. Engagement with key players is crucial.
  • Founder and International Director of Geutanyoe Foundation, Lilianne Fan, spoke about the Myanmar military coup, impact on the country’s civilians including Rohingya and other minorities, and ASEAN’s role in an interview with Astro Awani, a national television news channel.

Myanmar

  • Karen Peace Support Network joined 84 organisations in a joint letter calling all Karen armed groups to openly and decisively support the current pro-democracy movement of the people throughout the country, to cooperate with the people in the best way they can, protect the lives of civilians, and work towards the formation of an interim government and the drafting of a federal democratic constitution.
  • Advocacy Director of Progressive Voice, Rin Fujimatsu, co-wrote an article entitled ‘Rape Her: Gendered Hate Speech Towards Rohingya Women’, highlighting how hate speech is used as a means to incite violence and a precursor to genocide against the Rohingya. This extends to women human right defenders, journalists and advocates for minority rights.
  • 1 February: Taiwan Association for Human Rights, FORUM-ASIA, and ALTSEAN-BURMA are amongst the 123 organisations to release a joint statement entitled, ‘Myanmar military should end its use of violence and respect democracy’, to denounce an apparent coup in Myanmar, and associated violence, which has suspended civilian government and effectively returned full power to the military.
  • 3 February: Chin Human Rights Organization released their 2020 Annual Report and a statement condemning the actions of the Tatmadaw which staged a coup d’etat on the 1 February 2021 – a reckless endangerment to the lives of millions of citizens at a time when all public resources and attention must be focused on the fight against the COVID-19.
  • 5 February: Fortify Rights published a news release on ‘Myanmar: Rescind Order to Use Force Against Protesters, Protect Basic Freedoms’ calling on the Myanmar authorities to protect basic freedoms and immediately rescind police orders to arrest and use force against protesters.
  • 5 February: ALTSEAN-Burma joined five other organisations in a joint solidarity statement and a digital campaign as the #StopDigitalDictatorship to stand in solidarity with civil society, independent media, and democratically elected representatives in Myanmar, and to call for the restoration of their democratic rights, online, and offline.
  • 9 February: Burma Campaign UK and ALTSEAN-BURMA were amongst the 77 organisations to publish an open letter to the ‘Member and Observer State of the United Nations Human Rights Council Regarding the Urgent Situation in Myanmar’ to express their deep concern over the safety of the peaceful demonstrators in Myanmar and  urging them to take immediate action to ensure their protection and their fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and information.
  • Several contributions were made by Debbie Stothard, Coordinator and Founder of ALTSEAN-BURMA, to media outlets regarding the military coup in Myanmar and the consequences that would result in human rights abuses, refugees rights, and minorities’ rights. Her contributions include video interviews with Al Jazeera and Green Left, and news features on Al Jazeera and Asia Times.

Regional and Global

  • The Living Refugee Archives published the second issue of their open access journal ‘Displaced Voices: A Journal of Migration, Archives and Cultural Heritage’. Their second issue of the journal is entitled, ‘In Their Own Voices: Making Visible Lives of Refugee Women In Kuala Lumpur’, and it has a collection of papers written by and with refugee women based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Amin Kamrani from Asylum Access was a photographer for the issue. For the full PDF version, kindly see here.
  • An APRRN individual member wrote an academic journal article that was published by the School of Advanced Study, University of London on ‘The Status of Research on Internal Displacement in Asia’. This paper reviews the research landscape on internal displacement in Asia by looking at the growing trends therein in order to assess the state of current scholarship.

On the radar

Regional

  • 18 February: The ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship will host the ‘Myanmar’s Digital Coup: What can we do to resist?’ webinar to discuss the current digital dictatorship imposed by the Military Coup in Myanmar, with human rights activists at the forefront of the resistance, and ASEAN digital rights advocates. To register, kindly see here.
  • 22 February: UNHCR, APRRN, and ICVA will be co-organising the regional consultations for 2021, and NGOs are invited to participate in the theme selection and contributing potential topics for debate and discussion. Contributions from this regional consultation will help identify a unifying theme for all regions, which will then feed into the 2022 global consultations. Kindly share your inputs here by 22 February (COB Bangkok time).
  • 24 February: There will be a high level discussion with the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and ICVA’s Executive Director, Mr. Ignacio Packer at 20:00 to 21:30 Bangkok time. The consultation will include updates on priorities for 2021, discussion with NGOs in detail the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic on forcibly displaced and stateless persons, as well as other current humanitarian emergencies and partnership issues. For those interested, kindly register for the discussion here by 22 February (midnight Bangkok time).
  • 25 February: The International Detention Coalition, Save the Children, and UNICEF will be organising a ‘Virtual Roundtable on Child Rights and Migration in the Asia Region’. The event will include high-level speakers and youth representatives who will cover pressing issues facing child migrants in Asia, home to close to a quarter of the global migrant population. Working groups will tackle issues around child protection, access to services, immigration detention and the impact of COVID-19. To RSVP or for further queries, please get in touch Olof Blomqvist (olof.blomqvist@savethechildren.org).

From the Secretariat

  • APRRN Internship. We are seeking for motivated, passionate individuals who are keen on interning with APRRN. Interns at APRRN will have the opportunity to be involved and contribute to a variety of the network’s activities and projects on forced migration issues and advocacy for refugee rights across the Asia Pacific region. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested applicants are highly encouraged to apply. For more details, please see here.

A Message from APRRN Chair

Dear APRRN partners and colleagues,

I hope that you are well.

I will be stepping down from my role at APRRN due to a change in my personal circumstances. It is bitterly sad for me to leave the network. I have really enjoyed working with everyone and learning from you, and I hope I have been able to be of help during my tenure.

Chairing a diverse and rich network like APRRN was an opportunity that I can never forget. I am joining the UNHCR Higher Education team in Denmark to continue pushing for refugees’ rights in accessing higher education and meaningful refugee participation.

As you are all aware, APRRN is a civil society network and I will become ineligible to remain as Chair of APRRN with my appointment with UNHCR. However, I will always support the network and look for ways to engage with its members.

Rest assured, APRRN is stronger than ever and its work and vision will continue to move forward with a strong Secretariat and governance team.

The Deputy Chair of APRRN, Dr Ashok Gladston Xavier, will be Acting Chair until a new Chair is elected in coming months and in accordance with APRRN’s governance charters.

I thank all members and partners for your dedication and support for refugees and the APRRN Network, and I look forward to continuing our engagement with you, in solidarity with all refugees in the region.

Warm regards,

Arash Bordbar

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