[Event] ACSC / APF 2021 Plenary Session: Failed Promises: A CSO Assessment on ASEAN’s Response to the Militarisation and Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia
13 October 2021 12:14 pm

Date: Friday, 15 October 2021

Time: 1.00 – 2.15 PM (GMT+7)

Register herel.forum-asia.org/ACSCAPF21

Live via: Zoom


This year’s ASEAN Civil Society Conference / ASEAN Peoples’ Forum eclipses a challenging era for the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) as it deals with the spillover effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worsening crisis in Myanmar. Eight months since the attempted coup, little concrete action has been taken by ASEAN to address the unfolding human rights, humanitarian, and COVID-19 crisis in Myanmar. Yet, what happened in Myanmar is not the only impact of burgeoning militarism and authoritarianism in Southeast Asia. Escalating extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests swept over the region and has burdened human rights defenders. State agents, such as military, police, and vigilante groups have orchestrated attacks and perpetrated harassment on prominent human rights defenders and opposition leaders in the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand. 

There has been an alarming paradigm of ASEAN countries utilising colonial-era laws to suppress critical voices and exacerbate social inequalities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Southeast Asian countries’ tightening grip on civil liberties has been eminent this year and FORUM-ASIA has actively pressured governments in the region to adhere to the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and international human rights standards. ASEAN governments have continued to use the ‘non-interference principle’ as justification for continued impunity within the region. The Myanmar crisis crystallises all the pressing issues we are confronting in the region today.  Thus it is also imperative to have a particular focus on what is to be achieved at this year’s ACSC/APF, as our way of showing and asserting our solidarity with the ongoing struggle of the Myanmar peoples, and the whole of ASEAN civil society.

In alignment with the ACSC/APF’s tentative theme “Unity in Diversity – Collective Actions to Address Rising Inequality and Shrinking Civic Space in Southeast Asia”, FORUM-ASIA is organizing an ACSC/APF Plenary 1 titled “Failed Promises: A CSO Assessment on ASEAN’s Response to the Human Rights Crisis in Southeast Asia.”  This plenary session will discuss the worsening human rights situation in Southeast Asia, with a focus on how militarism and authoritarianism affected people’s access to Freedom of Expression Freedom of Assembly and Association, and press freedom. It will also tackle ASEAN’s lacklustre and sluggish actions towards addressing these gross human rights violations. 


  • Nichapa Chanwisitkul, Programme Associate of FORUM-ASIA
  • Khin Ohmar, Founder of Progressive Voice
  • Meas Savath, Secretary-General of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
  • Dr. Ryan Yumin Chua, Programme Director of Pusat KOMAS
  • Celso Fonseca, Human Rights Center
  • Dr. Surachanee Sriyai, Chulalongkorn University

Moderator: Gianna Francesca Catolico, ASEAN Advocacy Fellow of FORUM-ASIA


Media contact: For more information or to set up an interview with any of the speakers, please contact Melissa Ananthraj, Communication and Media Programme Manager, FORUM-ASIA at [email protected]