News & Updates 14 October 2022

Regional: Network of Rights and Memory Initiatives Gathers for “Protecting Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the Asia and Pacific Region” Summit in Indonesia

From 25 to 30 September 2022, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC), and the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth, and Reconciliation (GIJTR) held an international summit on “Protecting Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the Asia and Pacific Region” in Jakarta, Indonesia. This summit also highlighted the case study of the Rohingya community in the face of Myanmar’s military-backed violence and the challenging conditions in the refugee camps in the neighbouring countries.

This summit addressed the need for civil society to actively participate and strengthen its network to complement the implementation of existing international legal instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging on National or Ethnic. Although these international legal instruments can be the foundation for the struggle for ethnic minorities’ rights, civil society organisations’ advocacy for the protection of minority groups, especially those who are more vulnerable within those groups such as women and children.

Participants of “Protecting Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the Asia and Pacific Region” from all over Asia and the Pacific. © Asia Justice and Rights

The “Protecting Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the Asia and Pacific Region” Summit seeks to fulfil the following objectives:

  • Identify and discuss challenges and threats to the civil, political and human rights of minority groups across the Asia-Pacific Region.
  • Identify ways to advocate for the rights of ethnic and cultural minorities in the Asia-Pacific Region.
  • Discuss the strategies that institutions and civil society can develop to protect ethnic
  • Analyse the case study of discrimination and violence against the Rohingya and develop a regional project to develop a Rohingya Oral Archive to contribute to their memorialization and identity through the reconstruction of the memory of their past.
A keynote session on Rohingya refugees with U Aung Kyaw Moe representing Burmese CSOs. © Asia Justice and Rights

Attended by 67 participants from 20 different countries, members of various regional networks shared their experiences in combating threats to human rights in the region, their ways to advocate for the rights of ethnic and cultural minorities, and strategies to strengthen institutions and civil society groups that are working on formal or informal transitional justice initiatives. One of the prominent results of this summit is the Munir Human Rights Museum joining the international networks of rights and memory initiative as one of their ways to expand their networks.

The summit comprises two main sessions: the roundtable and bilateral discussions. Regional coalitions and networks may find partners to develop future strategic approaches to ensure successful transitional justice initiatives in their area of work. To do so, the summit focused on finding common interests and establishing a joint initiative within the networks at the end of these sessions.