The Human Rights Justice and Peace (HRJP) Workshop on Civil and Political Rights was held from October 9 to 15, 2010 at the Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village, Hong Kong, SAR. In general, the HRJP Workshop aims to mobilize Christian youth to work for human rights, justice and peace in Asia-Pacific countries by providing them the faith motivation, knowledge, skills and framework of analysis for human rights, justice and peace advocacy work. In particular the Workshop aimed to:
The HRJP Workshop was participated in by 15 young people representing 14 member movements of WSCF from Asia-Pacific. The participants were Mr. Chih-chung Fang from Taiwan, Mr. Vinolid Caleap from India, Mr. Arun Sandar from Bangladesh, Mr. Francisco Soares from East Timor, Ms. Effy Kulla from Indonesia, Mr. Andrew Tam from Hong Kong, Ms. Fanny Lam from Hong Kong, Mr. Perumbadage Nuwan Anuruddha Bandara from Sri Lanka, Mr. Ham Kim Houn from Cambodia, Mr. Jomari Cuartero from Philippines, Mr. S. Shein Thet Nyunt from Myanmar, Mr. Kwang Junm Hwa from Korea. Student from local SCM also joined the Workshop in the various sessions.
The content of the HRJP Workshop included lectures and inputs from Wong Kai Shing and Danilo Reyes from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a regional Human Rights center based in Hong Kong; a Biblico-theological Reflections (BTR) on Human Rights from Dr. Wong Wai Ching, SCM Hong Kong and WSCF AP senior friend; group discussions and presentations on the human rights situation of the Asian countries by the participants; sharing on the human rights situation in Hong Kong by SCM Hong Kong and exposure program with local groups and marginalized communities in Hong Kong.
This picture is the list of thousands of children who died under the rubbles when school building collapsed during the Schewan Earthquake in China in 2009. A group of human rights activist investigated the incident and demanded for the China government to take the responsibility of the death of the children due to sub-standard materials used in the construction of the school buildings allegedly due to wide-spread corruption by local government officials.
The Biblico-Theological Reflection (BTR) by Dr. Wong Wai Ching focused on the topic “The Knowledge of God” and “The Judgment” from the Bible texts Hosea 4:1-3, Isaiah 11:1-9 and Jeremiah 22:13-16. In her presentation, she pointed out that the Knowledge of God brings faithfulness and loyalty to God, emphasizing the need to be the same for the community of God’s people. These two cannot be separated. And the consequence of the lack of Knowledge of God is collective greediness, structural corruption and systematic exploitation of the poor and marginalized. She explains that faithfulness or trustworthiness is the unconditional reliability in which one has confidence in the other, especially in one’s word and service. In the context of the Bible and our contemporary world, she asks who has been faithful in our community? She further explains that loyalty, the enduring quality of responsible relationships, together with faithfulness should be a community responsibility among those who live together in the land. The root of faithfulness and loyalty is the Knowledge of God, faithfulness not only between one person and God, it cannot be separated from one’s relationship with one’s neighbor. In summarizing her presentation, Waiching related this to the concept of Human Rights. As Christians, Human Rights is also about knowing God, in our neighbor, in the world and in our vision. This should be manifested through our will, in our action to protect all created life, she added.
The session on the Basic Concepts, History of Human Rights and Human Rights situation Asia was led by Wong Kai Shing from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and a senior friend of SCM Hong Kong. Kai Shing began his presentation with a group game called “Meeting Visitor from another Planet” where participants were asked to enumerate what they would like the alien visitor to know about human beings. The second exercise was called, “Planning for a New Country,” where participants were asked to make a basic or fundamental law or covenant of the new country. From the presentations and sharing of the participants, Kaishing summarized the following as the basic concepts of Human Rights. It is about human dignity, respecting different cultural and religious traditions, with the capacity enhancement/self-realization, ability to resolve conflict. It is also about individual rights, equality and non-discrimination. The following concepts also came out from the exercise, remedies, legal protection, enlightenment (courage to use reason, respect of individuals).
In a brief historical view, Human Rights came from the struggles to abolish torture, the fight against slavery, women’s struggle for their rights and feminism, social reform and trade unionism. Human rights are inalienable, cannot be transferred or deposed of. The primary duties of protecting human rights fall on states and their public authorities, not on other individuals. The individual person is a subject of international law, entitled under it to claim legal rights, and to have recourse at the international level for violations of those rights if he cannot obtain redress from the national institutions of the state. He adds that a person entitles to human rights simply because they are human beings. Protection of human rights is the primary obligation of the state, an obligations to respect, to protect, and to fulfill). How a state treats its own subjects is now the legitimate concern of international law. There are international standards can be used for judging the domestic laws and the actual conduct of sovereign states.
Kai Shing also explained the problem of impunity, the primacy of place needs to be given to the reforms of the criminal justice system for the protection of human rights. In summary, electoral Democracy is not enough. Structural reforms for the implementation of rights: e.g. reforms of the Prosecution and Criminal justice System. People-oriented approach: reforms with local knowledge; strengthening civil society, create space for people’s dialogue and participation. Challenging local cultural norms (requires a very deep knowledge of the same). Against violence, stop the practices of torture. Engaging in social discourse (generate debate locally, regionally and internationally) and international solidarity.
Participants also shared on the Human Rights situation in their own countries. The following the main Human Rights issues in the Asia-Pacific context. First, threats to the right to life, second is discrimination, and third is violations on the freedom of expression and the last is violation of economic, social and cultura rights. Under the threat to life, the following issues are common in Asia, extra-judicial killings (e.g. Massacre in Maguindanao in the Philippines, 57 killed, 30 journalists), forced disappearances and violence against women. Under discrimination, the most common forms are discrimination against women, caste-based discrimination, discrimination against minorities (ethnic minorities, religious minorities). Violations on the freedom of expression, includes, National security laws, censorship, criminal defamation, attacks on journalists and activists. On violations under economic, social and cultural rights, the most common are widespread poverty, exploitation of workers, right to food, right to health, right to housing, right to education and cultural rights. The causes of these problems are; authoritative regimes, militarization, failure of the criminal justice system, corruption, cultural and religious oppression, developmentalism and globalization.
Another highlight of the program was the sharing of the Human Rights situation in Hong Kong by SCM members, which highlighted the various rights issues of marginalized people in Hong Kong. This included the situation of the poor and marginalized communities such as migrants from China, foreign domestic workers from Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, homeless and elderly people, Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs). There were film showing on the film Burma VJ on the so-called “Maroon Revolution” in Burma and a film called Investigation by Citizens by Ai Xiao Ming on the Zichuan earthquake. The issue of ‘Right of abode in Hong Kong on the so-called, “Wedding Invitation Street” in the old district of Hong Kong Island was also shared by members of local groups in Hong Kong.
The participants were divided into two groups for the Exposure Program. One group went to visit the Bethune Shelter for distressed Migrant women workers and Ziteng, a service organization that works with Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) in HK. The other group went to visit the was organized in the following communities: SOCO Caged-home in Hong Kong, Bethune House Shelter for Migrant Women migrants from mainland China.
A Statement was also produced by the participants at the end of the Workshop with the following concrete recommendations and action plans:
For Southeast Asia
Regional Program for WSCF