WSCF AP’s HRSP continues to be one of its strongest program enabling Christian students to contribute in the effort to protect and respect the dignity and human rights of all people. Specifically, the program aims to provide the SCMs in the Asia-Pacific regions with Human Right education to enhance their participation towards human rights and peace advocacy, gender justice work and strengthen their capacity to respond to human rights solidarity work.
In 2008, efforts were focused in strengthening the mechanism of planning, monitoring, coordination or HR advocacy work at the regional level through the HR Committee, deepening awareness and participation in the issue of Migrants Rights, and participation in HR and Justice and Peace campaigns in the region. The following are details of these engagements.
The Human Rights Program has raised the level of awareness of young people that has enabled greater visibility and ability of our movements to respond to Human Rights issues and concerns in different countries. Examples of advocacy campaigns that the SCMs and WSCF have taken an active role are the struggle for HR and Democracy in Burma, Communal Violence in Orissa, Extra-judicial Killings in the Philippines, the communal violence and tension Pakistan. In all these issues, WSCF AP and its member movement were able to respond and act in solidarity with the people because of the presence of our movements in these countries and the degree of HR awareness developed over the years.
The Regional Human Rights Workshops held once a year has encouraged our movements to form Human Rights Desks and appoint HR officers in the National Movements. These are mechanisms to sustain work in Human Rights and raise awareness of young people on Human Rights in the Churches and schools at the national level.
Because of the growing consciousness on Human Rights issues, it has also brought interest among young people to participate in global campaigns such as the Campaign for Migrants Rights in the Global Forum Migration and Development (GFMD) held in Manila last week of October 2008. Fifteen young people from SCMs in the region participated in the parallel events organized by people’s movements to raise the voices and issues of the Migrants in this UN platform.
There are tremendous risks involved in Human Rights work in the following countries where we have actively worked with students: Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Myanmar. Our young SCM members in some countries have been harassed, imprisoned, intimidated and killed for their work. In the recent years, four of our young members in the SCM Philippines have been summarily executed by para-military forces because of their involvement in people’s movements. Our SCM leaders in Indonesia have been imprisoned after participating in anti-oil price hike protests and their office violently attacked and destroyed by paramilitary forces. Our members in India have been imprisoned after participating in the peaceful protest to stop communal violence in Orissa, and an SCM fellowship hall of the students was burned down. The movements of our members in Burma are constantly watched by the military for so-called ‘illegal activities’ and they are fearful of their lives and safety whenever they criticize the military junta government.
In all these cases of Human Rights violations and abuses, we have filed cased against the perpetrators seeking justice to the victims and sent international appeals to our networks to stop these violations and bring to the attention of governments and authorities. Another concrete step that we have taken to address this situation is by providing Human Rights education to our member movements. Our Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Workshops attempts to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to issues of Human Rights violations and protect themselves from further abuse and violations.