02/18/2012, 00.00
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ASEAN, Laos and Vietnam: no to human rights and religious freedom because they create "chaos

A draft Declaration on Human Rights by the Association, which brings together the countries of South-East Asia leaked. Vientiane, Hanoi and supported by Kuala Lumpur and Naypyidaw, indirectly, impose limits because the state is more important than the individual. Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines for a more progressive and modern version.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The recognition and protection of human rights can trigger "conflict and division" that end up dragging a country "into chaos and anarchy." Among the limitations, there is also the control of the "practice of a cult or a religion" that must comply with the laws of a nation in which "the rights of the state 'outweigh' freedoms and rights of individuals." This is what emerges from a draft of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, drafted in January during the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission and published exclusively by a Burmese dissident website (based in India) Mizzima News. Among the ASEAN countries - the association that brings together 10 nations of South-east Asia, from Myanmar to Brunei - it reveals the attempt of Laos to "water down" the Bill of Rights, invoking a number of limitations in the underlying principles, in contrast, the governments of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines want to promote a more progressive and modern version.

The draft document testifies to the hard-line request from Vientiane, which intends to impose a series of pre-conditions on the exercise of human rights and religious freedom. For the Lao government, "the application of universal human rights" must take account "of national and regional particularities" and the words "regardless of the political, economic and cultural systems" should not be inserted.  Instead, the delegates that "national security, public order and morality" is specified as more important than the rights of individuals to avoid generating "chaos and anarchy."

Laos also wants clear limits to religious freedom, which must be subservient to the "national laws" of each State. A position endorsed by Vietnam (both pro-communist nations, leaders in cases of violations of the practice of religion), which also supports the control of freedom of opinion and the right to freedom of information. Among the other ASEAN nations, Vientiane and Hanoi's positions are shared - albeit more discreetly - even by Malaysia. Myanmar, however, would not comment directly but it seems close to the thesis of Laos and has expressed reservations about the use of the term "ethnic minorities" or "indigenous peoples".

In principle, the document states that "everyone shall enjoy rights and freedoms" without distinction of "race, color, sex, language, religion, politics or other opinion, national or social origin, sexual identity, property, birth, disability or other status. " However, the Sultanate of Brunei and Malaysia are against the inclusion of the term "sexual identity" and Kuala Lumpur also places conditions on the definitions of "sex" and "other status". Thailand, however, wants to change the concept of "sexual identity" with the more modern "sexual orientation". The draft would further identify the extent to which the death penalty applies, however, some Member States are against any reference to this.


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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”