Tag Archive for: militarism

The Program on Building Democracy and Claiming Civic Spaces is committed to resisting militarism and fascism as well as uniting with CSOs and POs in the struggle against structures of oppression and inequality. Embedded in this Program is the Workstream on Militarism. The Workstream seeks to systematize the broad spectrum of work in terms of research, policy advocacy, information dissemination, campaign, and lobbying with the perspective of strengthening people’s movements and facilitating the voices and actions of marginalized sectors against militarism and fascism.

In line with this, the Asia Pacific Research Network accepted the invitation from Tanggol Magsasaka to join a fact-finding and peace mission in the heavily militarized island of Palawan in the Philippines. Tanggol Magsasaka is a broad platform of individuals, CSOs, and POs that advocate the general upliftment and development of the lives of rural-based sectors. The delegates of the fact-finding and peace mission range from international networks including IBON International and the People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty to local and national platforms – Children’s Rehabilitation Center Inc., KARAPATAN – Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, PAMALAKAYA Pilipinas – National Federation of Small Fisherfolk in the Philippines, and KASAMA TK. 

Tanggol Magsasaka, collectively assessed and analyzed several cases of alleged human rights violations, threats and harassment to residents, and heavy militarization in affected barangays of Paly and Sitio Montevista Poblacion, Municipality of Taytay, Palawan Province. Included in the data-gathering is an investigation on the current situation of the people’s livelihood and how these the deteriorating human rights situation affect their holistic development. Part of the conduct also included media work to jumpstart the campaigns of and for the people in the area. 

General findings indicate that the presence of the 3rd Marine Brigade adversely affects the already dire situation of people. Palawan’s Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts (TF-ELCAC), a policy framework that seeks to implement Duterte’s EO 70 and Joint Campaign Plan Kapanatagan locally, has served as a blanket authorization for authorities to baselessly accuse local leaders of being rebels, arrest citizens without due process, and permit the presence of state forces in these barangays and in many other areas in Palawan. Since 2018, the elements of the Philippine Marines have been billeted in both barangays resulting in de facto martial law.

The trend of militarizing the countryside and the rise of Militarism on the global scale has been the result of the intensive competition between global and regional superpowers vying for dominance in each of their respective areas of control, planning to enlarge their scope and accumulate more wealth and power. This is indicative of the current neoliberal framework wherein the the primacy of wealth and power results in aggressive or overly-defensive military policies and strategies, which in turn churn-out local authoritarian policies that secure the profit of the few to the detriment of the majority. 

Fascist and authoritarian states enable the dictatorship of local authorities, hiding behind the facade of ‘development’ as justification for the collusion with companies that aim to grab resources with the use of force, be it state-sponsored or private. For instance, Guevent Investments Development Corp., a local corporation that seeks to establish a Bamboo Farm in an agricultural lot at the expense of the residents and farmers who depend on the said land for their livelihood. The local corporation asked for the help of local authorities to ensure their stake on the land, with the latter responding by deploying and concentrating armed forces in the nearby area. This partnership results in the extraction of wealth from the majority who are poor and the curtailment of people’s civil rights and liberties.

To be able to adapt to their current poor conditions and partly in response to the emergence of the military in their respective areas, the residents of Paly and Sitio Montevista, Poblacion; formed organizations, namely PAMALAKAYA-Paly and PLORMM (Pinagkaisang Lakas ng Okupante, Residents, Magsasaka, at Maralita) respectively, to cater to their specific socio-economic needs. For PAMALAKAYA, this includes successfully campaigning for against restrictions in fishing. For PLORMM, this entails consolidating their membership to ensure that their right to land and livelihood is being upheld by the municipal government and GIDC. For both people’s organizations, this is resistance against the attacks by the military, initiating dialogues with local authorities, and conducting cooperative activities for development. 

Despite this, it has become inevitable for the local authorities to react to the people’s push for civic space with excessive use of force. For instance, PAMALAKAYA-Paly was the object of reprisal for their successful campaigns that ensure that all residents on the island can fish freely and, consequently ensure income for their families. Since the people’s organization was at the forefront, they were threatened, harassed, and intimidated. In focus group discussions in Paly, at least 18 individuals were victims of false allegations and various forms of threats and intimidation by the 3rd Marine Brigade.

Similarly, PLORMM founder and Chairperson Norlie Bernabe was illegally arrested with trumped up murder charges. Soon after, other leaders were threatened by the elements of the 413rd Marine Brigade as they made rounds at the homes of PLORMM members and coerced them to sign questionable templated affidavit of surrender and a commitment not to join any organizational activities. A total of 17 cases were recorded during the mission. The Marine Brigade’s persistent harassment eventually led to the fracture of the organization. 

In both cases, it can be observed the space for CSOs and POs has shrunk as the people’s rights to organize are being curtailed. The relentless repression of local authorities with the state armed forces as their machinery has also endangered the lives of their family members. 

This is not an isolated case, it is clear that governments around the Asia-Pacific prioritize the accumulation of power and profit; and deals with transnational corporations more than the people’s welfare, that these institutions are willing to use brute force towards the helpless for their own selfish interests. 

The same trends can be observed in India and Indonesia, with military spending taking up a large chunk of both countries’ national budgets. The jingoistic nationalism by the Indian government comes at the expense of the autonomous residents of Kashmir and Jammu, who are negatively affected by the military forces barging in a sovereign territory, culminating into a civil war. Likewise, Indonesia’s claim on West Papua has hindered self-determination for its locals, with an ongoing civil war between the Indonesian military and the West Papuan armed movement. Due to this local organizations for self determination are being tagged as insurgents, and are treated as such. The excessive use of force has already been documented across the region. Harassment and persecution of peasants, human rights defenders, environmental rights defenders, and activists, as well as cases of enforced disappearances, has been the normative response by state-forces. Dissent is now considered a criminal offense. Human rights abuses and violations have become more rampant, with a growing number of victims at a very alarming rate and the normalized use of the military as a tool for repression towards civilians only makes it worse. 

Militarism is rapidly becoming normalized due to the dominant neoliberal world, and shall further breed conflict and repression, be it externally with other nations, or internally with its own people; as long as the roots of this imperialist and expansionist ideology are not addressed.#


Fact Finding Mission

Children’s Rehabilitation Center
Feb 19-20, 2020

Fact Finding Mission Report

Tanggol Magsasaka

Useful Links:

Tanggol Magsasaka: Tanggol Magsasaka network concludes fact-finding mission in Taytay, Palawan

Author: PAMALAKAYA: National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines

Source: AngPamalakaya.org (https://angpamalakaya.org/2020/02/23/tanggol-magsasaka-tanggol-magsasaka-network-concludes-fact-finding-mission-in-taytay-palawan/?fbclid=IwAR1jHxx1B2QdpQ8iI2yeG2hCsq0r5ProsRrIPRjoHF4bCLBeLfs_X-aGkHI)

Date: February 23, 2020

Amid impact of Fisheries Code and Duterte’s EO70: Amihan denounces harassment vs. fisherfolk, peasant families in Taytay, Palawan

Author: Amihan: National Federation of Peasant Women

Source: amihanwomen.org


Date: February 24, 2020

Anakpawis slams continuing abuses against Fisherfolk and Farmers in Taytay, Palawan 
Author: Anakpawis PL 

Source: Anakpawis.net

Date: February 23, 2020

Amid impact of Fisheries Code and Duterte’s EO70: Amihan denounces harassment vs. fisherfolk, peasant families in Taytay, Palawan

Author: Amihan: National Federation of Peasant Women

Source: amihanwomen.org


Date: February 24, 2020

Network exposes rights abuses vs Philippine Fisherfolk and Farmers in Palawan

Author: People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty Global

Source: FoodSov.org (http://foodsov.org/network-exposes-rights-abuses-vs-ph-fisherfolk-farmers-in-palawan/?fbclid=IwAR3YoHxdrdB23QKqnYi9u84BWPYz9D7QZE7PmZ_Gz4IgvLk6S9bTYulfhVs)

Date: February 24, 2020

Palawan fisherfolk lament fishing regulation, harassment by state agents

Author: Bulatlat

Source: Bulatlat.com (https://www.bulatlat.com/2020/02/25/palawan-fisherfolk-lament-fishing-regulation-harassment-by-state-agents/?fbclid=IwAR34rAgxaV83KvNKMIJLon4Ctsuf-D-xV3ahkb0gxB2JHgTvwEgm3q5A4r4)

Date: February 25, 2020

Int’l coalition: PH farmers, fisherfolks starved to displace them from island province

Author: People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty Global

Source: FoodSov.org (http://foodsov.org/intl-coalition-ph-farmers-fisherfolks-starved-to-displace-them-from-island-province/?fbclid=IwAR2o15Zn-P6VBdrZhklBNj6kOpYe-SNV4ti_8qkHD8yVGtGJpYVl_RfmnQ0)

Date: February 26, 2020 

Fact-finding mission finds heavy military presence in Taytay, Palawan

Author: Stacy Ang

Source: Current PH.com (https://currentph.com/2020/02/27/fact-finding-mission-finds-heavy-military-presence-in-taytay-palawan/?fbclid=IwAR0nCBXdY2TopCnpxNuitCNmyRznidvd25hY56l2X2ug3A78dvbrkSPbNTA)

Date: February 27, 2020 

On this issue:

Development Aid With Chinese Characteristics?

Activists, CSOs bolster call to reject RCEP in Bali negotiations

APRN Pushes for Effective Development Cooperation Amidst Shrinking Spaces for CSOs

Goals vs Realities: Looking back at the Peoples’ Forum & APFSD 2019

Quo Vadis Goal 16? A people’s review of the state of peace, justice,
and inclusion in Asia Pacific

Day of the Landless Statement: Reclaim our Lands, Reclaim our Future!

New Publication: The Peoples’ Global Conference Against IMF-World Bank in Bali, Indonesia

Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), in partnership with Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM), held the panel discussion titled “Quo Vadis Goal 16?” at the Asia Pacific People’s Forum on Sustainable Development 2019 (APPFSD) on March 25 in Bangkok. Thirty five (35) participants from regional and national CSOs, people’s organizations, UN agencies and members of the media attended the said forum.

Goal 16 of building peaceful, just and inclusive societies is important as a means and an accelerator to achieve Agenda 2030. And yet, achieving the targets of Goal 16 remains difficult given the rise of repressive governments, closing civic spaces, and growing militarism.

The forum identified the systemic barriers to Goal 16 namely shrinking spaces for CSOs and limiting people’s participation in the development process, increasing militarization, and widespread attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms.

Ivan Enrile of APRN gave an overview of Goal 16 and the challenges to achieving the goal’s interlinking targets. “The transformative nature of SDG 16 makes it uniquely powerful, yet also difficult to achieve as it requires significant shifts in all its interlinked aspects,” Enrile said. “Peace should be sustainable and positive, not simply the absence of violence; accountability should be mutual; justice must be comprehensive including social, economic, environmental, cultural and political justice,” he added.

Enrile further shared the move of the Philippine government to tighten its grip on democratic participation of CSOs through a new memorandum released by the government’s Securities and Exchange Commission that would classify CSOs according to the risk they pose for being used for financing terror groups.

“Shrinking space as a real threatening trend in our region. It is going in various ways- in political restrictions, in physical arrests and killings, in disappearance, in growing treats,” adds Nurgul Dzhanaeva of Forum of women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan underscoring the increasing dangers civil society have to face to fulfill their part in achieving development goals.

Daya Sagar Shrestha of the NGO Federation of Nepal shared the same experience as their government reinstitutes restrictive laws which make it more difficult for CSOs to register, operate, and access resources.

Kartika Sari of Palangkaraya Ecological And Human Rights Studies (PROGRESS) talked about militarization of development. “In Indonesia, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) revealed that there are a total of 1,500 cases of conflict related to disputes, conflict and struggles for land and natural resources. Thirty percent (30%) of these cases involve palm oil plantations,” Sari shared.

The same attacks on rights were also noted in the labor sector. “Despite the recent upsurge in labor strikes in the Philippines, the calls to end contractualization have fallen on deaf ears. More than 30,000 workers who went on strike suffered repressive blows varying from threats, intimidation and assault. A total of 28 killings have been recorded in the labor sector from 2016 to 2018,” reports Otto de Vries of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER).

To cap the discussion, Ajay Jha of CECODECON and feminist activist Sarah Zaman talked about the different ways that civil society and movements were resisting militarism, closing civic spaces, and exclusion. Zaman shed light on the experience of Pakistani women in confronting repression, threats of arrest, and misinformation. Jha meanwhile shared how Indian farmers’ organized resistance reversed court decisions that trampled on their rights.

Participants agreed to come up with a strong statement on the shrinking spaces for CSOs and advocate for a rights-based approach to development at the coming Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. They further agreed to strengthen and widen the solidarity in pushing back against efforts to stifle the voices of the grassroots and to undermine their struggle for development justice.

Today we commemorate the 73rd year since the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The death toll in the first hours after the bomb was dropped is estimated at 75,000 to 80,000. Many of those who survived the immediate blast died shortly afterwards from fatal burns and other serious complications caused by radiation. This increased the death toll to 140,000 by December 1945, and to more than 200,000 by the end of 1950. These deaths overwhelmingly belong to the civilian population which largely inhabit the city, which is a residential and business center. A few days later, US dropped another bombed in Nagasaki, killing an estimated 80,000.

The necessity of the Hiroshima bombing to the Japanese surrender is still persistently argued by the US Government. But investigation of all the facts, supported by testimonies from both camps belies this claim and reveals that by the time the bomb was ready for use, Japan was already planning to surrender. General Dwight Eisenhower said in 1963, “Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of face. It was not necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” While Admiral William Leahy, Pres. Harry Truman’s chief military advisor during the bombing, wrote: “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.”

To this day the United States government and its allies continue their abhorrent practice of bombing civilians in its endless “war on terror” in West Asia and elsewhere. Monitoring group Airwars says at least 5,961 civilians have been killed by bombings since the war against ISIS started in 2014. The US-led military coalition in the region puts their estimate in more conservtive levels reporting only 1,790 potential civilian casualties that resulted from the more than 28,000 air strikes that it launched.

On this issue we cover the recently concluded APRN Biennial Conference, People Over Profit’s campaign against free trade agreements, the 7th year of the Istanbul Principles, CSO gatherings to tackle development effectiveness, and other network activities and updates.

(Click on the image below to download a copy)



The theme of the upcoming 4th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development is “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing Asia Pacific.” The theme speaks of the need to successfully implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. Solving the development needs in Asia Pacific will have significant global impacts as the region is home to almost 60% of the world’s population. The region is also home to the 60% of world’s hungry, and almost half of the world’s poorest. Average income levels in the region in real terms are on a downward trend as inequality within and between Asia Pacific countries continue to rise.

Implementing the SDGs in the region is a costly venture. The Economic and Social Commission of Asia Pacific (ESCAP) in 2015 released the report titled “Financing for Transformation: From agenda to action on sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.” The report identifies the region’s financing needs and potential sources of additional finances. According to the report, “it could cost the region from $2.1 trillion to $2.5 trillion per year to close the region’s infrastructure gaps, provide universal access to social protection, health and education, and implement climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.” Around USD 500-800 billion per year until 2030 is needed to close gaps on safety nets, old age pension, income security to all persons with disabilities, universal access to health and education and modern energy access for all. Elimination of poverty will require USD 300 billion while the unmet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will need USD 100 billion per year until 2030 in financing. In terms of infrastructure, recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates 1.5 trillion per year to meet the region’s infrastructure needs. Adjusting this cost for climate mitigation would need USD 200 billion per year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that around USD 14.3 billion annually is requires to achieve universal energy access by 2030 for the Asia-Pacific region. According to World Bank (2010) estimates, the region will need costs for adaptation to climate change would amount to USD 25 billion annually.

Governments and multilateral bodies are in consensus that while countries can mobilize domestic resources, additional finance will have to be mobilized through private sector investments through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), specially in infrastructure. Indeed, the private sector’s role in development is being promoted disproportionately against their accountability. Civil society and grassroots movements in the region are wary of this trend because of previous and current experiences related to private sector control of operations and ownership of infrastructure important to delivering services such as water, electricity, health, education, etc wherein these vital services have become inaccessible especially to the marginalized since they have been transformed into profit-making ventures instead of public service. Grassroots communities specially farmers, indigenous, and fisherfolk are specially worried about increased private sector investments in agriculture and extractives as these can lead to resource grabs.

Aside from funding gaps, one of the systemic barriers in achieving the sustainable development, but least discussed, in the region is militarism. The ongoing conflict in West Asia, as well as territorial disputes in the South Asia and East and Southeast Asia has led Asia Pacific to become the most militarized region. While the Trump’s policy in Asia Pacific with respect to security remains yet to be seen, it is quite possible that there would be no significant changes from the Obama administration’s Pivot to Asia that aims to contain China’s growing influence through deployment of military personnel and infrastructure in the region. Militarization within countries is often used to suppress dissent and pave the way for resource grabs from communities. The continuing conflict and the development of new ones in the region is preventing the success of development efforts and violating human rights. Militarism also diverts huge amounts of resources away from sustainable development spending and is even more than three times bigger than the unambitious official development assistance (ODA) commitments of developed countries, which up until this day remain unfulfilled.

Asia and Pacific countries’ collective military spending in 2015 amounted to 436 billion. Adding the military spending of West Asian Countries, Russia, and United States of America (USA), the total amount balloons to an estimated USD 1.26 trillion. While this amount is definitely just a fraction of what Asia Pacific needs to meet the SDGs, rechanneling military spending to meet sustainable development will have lasting effects. Below are a few examples of costs of meeting SDGs versus military spending.


Arms imports are on the rise too. Data on arms imports of Asia Pacific countries suggest an upward trend on spending during the past decade. In 2016, total arms imports amount to USD 22.752 billion, signifying an increase of 48% since 2007.

The cost of damage to property, agricultural lands, the displacement of entire communities, and millions of lives lost due to extensive military operations and wars are not yet included in the current calculations on the cost of rising militarism in the region. Moreover, the damage done by warfare in the development process even reverses whatever development gains have been achieved at the country-level.

Clearly, military spending can be looked upon as a source of finance that should be diverted to spending on development. Thus, the reduction and rechanneling of military spending to finance development goals can serve as an effective indicator towards achieving the SDGs. If militarism continues to be ignored as one of the systemic barriers in the achievement of sustainable development, the Agenda 2030 is bound to fail the development needs of the billions of populations affected by militarism living in Asia Pacific.

Sign-on Statement on the 28 & 29th ASEAN Summit and the 11th East Asia Summit
August 2016

As the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) holds 28th and 29th summit concurrently with the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Vientiane, Laos from 3-8 September 2016, civil society across Asia Pacific calls attention to the intensifying neoliberal agenda in the region as it seeks integration in the economic, political security, and socio-cultural spheres.

ASEAN Thrust for Neoliberal Integration

The ASEAN’s political thrust is to fully realize a so-called ASEAN Community that is built around three “pillars” namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). Looking at the ASEAN Vision 2025 however, the whole framework presents the fundamental problem of a neoliberal economic pillar that drives the whole integration process altogether. The AEC is considered to be the most developed pillar among the three and is meant to further open up ASEAN economies to monopoly capitalist trade and investments.

Under the AEC blueprint, ASEAN economies are expected to become a single market and production base that seeks to facilitate the free flow of goods and skilled labor. But the neoliberal thrust of the AEC however can only aggravate existing inequalities between and within member countries. Countries that stand to gain from the integration are those with higher levels of technology and infrastructure already in place while less developed countries are left with lesser value functions in the global production process. This uneven playing field allows more advanced economies to maintain their position in the upper tier of the value chain as development in weaker economies become increasingly distorted.

Even at the country level, the uneven distribution of gains will exacerbate the wage gap between skilled and unskilled workers, and create fewer employment opportunities for women. The sectors that are expected to experience job growth such as transport and construction are also prone to be informal and vulnerable. In addition, the increased migration of low to medium-skilled workers without their rights properly protected, will subject a greater number of migrant workers to human rights abuses.

As part of ASEAN’s economic integration objectives, a wide range of ‘enhanced’ investment protection measures are now in place. The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) for example allows investors to sue governments over actions that “harm” expected future profits – giving corporations the power to challenge state actions that are meant to protect public welfare and interest, including providing a living wage, implementing agrarian reform, ensuring health and safety of the public from hazards, sound environmental policies, and so on.

In addition, governments are compelled to provide security and protection to investments which must be granted at all times. The so-called ‘investment defense forces’ essentially use military and paramilitary units to protect investor interests and crush local resistance in areas rich in natural resources – the same areas that serve as havens for big mining and logging corporations.

Competing Interests in the Region

Southeast Asia remains an important region in terms of economic and political value. Its combined population of 633 million and an increasing gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.4 trillion[2] make it a hotbed for foreign investment opportunities. Eight of the ten busiest container ports in the world are located in the Asia Pacific region, almost 30 percent of the world’s maritime trade routes pass through the South China/West Philippine Sea every year while around $1.2 trillion worth of products going to the United States transit the region’s sea routes. The rich resources, cheap labor and vital trade routes in the ASEAN region make it a strategic target for United States’ and China’s economic, political and military control.

In this context, the US continues to pursue its strategic pivot to Asia. In efforts to secure its own sphere of influence in the region, it has escalated military operations by deploying tens of thousands of military troops and maintains hundreds of military bases in Asia Pacific. Japan and Korea alone hosts over 80,000 US military personnel – a stark difference from the 65,000 troops currently stationed in Europe and 35,000 deployed in the Middle East[3]. China on the other hand has embarked on a substantial modernization of its maritime military forces and naval capabilities in a bid to enforce its claim in the South China Sea. It has forcibly reclaimed reefs and built airstrips capable of hosting military equipment sparking tensions with competing claimants – the Philippines and Vietnam.

Complementing these militarist and diplomatic advances is a layer of economic offensives which include the push to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – a mega-regional free trade agreement composed of the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries notably excluding China. The TPP is seen to advance favorable conditions for the US to consolidate strategic alliances with ASEAN countries participating in the trade deal: Borneo, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore. Philippines and Thailand have already expressed their desire to join the TPP.

The TPP however does not go unchallenged – as a means to counter US economic offensives, the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is recently gaining steam with a deadline to finish negotiations by the end of 2016. The RCEP excludes the US and covers all ASEAN member states along with China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.  The rise of these two mega-regional FTAs represents the heightening contention between US and China over who sets trade rules in the region and eventually re-orient the Asian supply and value chain to their favor.

It must be made clear however that both agreements pose major threats and equally devastating impacts on people’s rights and sovereignty across the region. Despite the seemingly competing interests between the two trade pacts – it must be pointed out that both the RCEP and the TPP find grounding in, and act as extensions of the WTO (World Trade Organization) framework constituting the neoliberal objective of profit accumulation and the concentration of wealth and resources at the hands of global corporate elites.

This also poses critical problems especially in the context of ASEAN integration as both the TPP and RCEP endorse the ISDS – heavily criticized for favoring corporations. With ISDS already present in the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), inclusion in these trade deals will cement investor’s rights to sue governments and will severely limit ASEAN member states’ right to regulate. Once these agreements come into force, rich countries and their corporations can block national social and environmental protection policies by filing claims in ISDS tribunals and even dictate policies that will bolster corporate profit at the expense of dropping public interest laws leading to the corporate re-colonization of ASEAN economies.

The need for genuine people’s solidarity

Indeed, ASEAN’s model of regional integration operates under the neoliberal economic framework that begets corporate-led incursions posing grave threats to national sovereignty and people’s rights across the region. The proliferation of trade and investment deals within and between ASEAN and global economic superpowers support monopoly capitalism’s insatiable drive for superprofits. Weak domestic industries and agricultural systems are subjected to foreign monopoly control while public services and utilities are gradually taken over. Developing ASEAN states are increasingly forced to compete with each other to attract foreign investment largely through labor repression, flexibilization and wage depression. This direction is further fueled by US interests to reinforce its stronghold in Asia Pacific and counter China’s aggression. At the same time, multinational corporations are increasingly being awarded the freedom to exploit the natural resources of developing economies in the region including their wealth, and labor power under the guise of ‘development’. Militarization spreads across Asia displacing entire populations and subjecting the people, especially women, children and indigenous peoples to violence, threats, harassment and extrajudicial killings.

An alternative to this model of integration must advance each country’s national economic interests free from the dictates of any foreign power. It must essentially do away with the market-led growth framework which ASEAN espouses and is founded upon. As a counterpose to this neoliberal notion of integration, a pro-people alternative must be forged along the principles of solidarity, cooperation and complementarity among states; it must recognize and uphold people’s sovereignty and people’s rights; premised on friendship and peaceful co-existence; it must pursue environmental sustainability and finally, direct the accountability of States and the private sector to the people.

Throughout the region, the people are asserting their sovereignty in various fronts to resist neoliberal and militarist policies. In the Philippines, indigenous Lumad communities remain irrepressible in asserting their right to land and in exposing mining and plantation investment schemes that continue to threaten their ancestral lands with the states use of military and paramilitary forces to protect investor interests. Thousands of farmers in Indonesia are relentless in demanding land ownership that has long been overdue. In Cambodia, women’s garment-workers are fighting for living wages and safe working conditions. Malaysians have conducted mass protests calling for government accountability and clean elections.

All over the region, peoples movements and activists have repeatedly come together to demand ASEAN governments to uphold peoples rights . We are calling on people’s organizations and the CSO community across the region to join Asia Pacific people in resisting the elite-centred ASEAN integration, the rise of militarism and neoliberal trade agreements. ###



Organization Country
Center for Participatory Research and Development -CPRD, Bangladesh
Participatory Research Action Network- PRAN, Bangladesh Bangladesh
Ubinig/ narigrantha Prabartana Bangladesh
Working Group for Peace (WGP) Cambodia
Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) Cambodia
Positive Change for Cambodia (PCC) s Cambodia
Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) Hongkong
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants Hongkong
Advasi Navjeewan Gathan navjyoi Agua (ANGNA India
Association for promotion sustainable development. Hisar. India
 Seeds-India India
Resistance and Alternatives on Globalization (RAG) Indonesia
kiribati association of non-government organization – Kiribati
Association for Improving Reading Stadard of Multi-Ethnic People Adapt to Climate Change Laos
CBR Network Malaysia
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT) (Oppressed peoples movement) Malaysia
Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) Malaysia
Committee for Asian Women Malaysia
Metta Development Foundation Myanmar
POINT Myanmar Myanmar
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- HRDP( Myanmar) Myanmar
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma Myanmar
Airavati Myanmar
Burma Partnership Mynamar
Forum for Community Upliftment System (FOCUS Nepal) Dhading Nepal
National Youth Federation Nepal (NYFN) Nepal
NGO-Federation of Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities (NGO-FONIN) Nepal
Kirat Youth Society (KYS) Nepal
Kirat Chamling Language Culture Development Association (KCLCDA), Nepal
People Unity Youth Society (PUYS) Nepal
Unity Society Nepal, Nepal
Active Society Nepal (ASN) Nepal
Youth Awareness Society Nepal (YASN) Nepal
Indigenous Nationalities Women Youth Network (INWYN) Nepal
Kirat Chamling Association (KCA) Nepal
Kirat Chamling Youth Society (KCYS) Nepal
Youth NGO-Federation (YNF) Nepal
Indigenous Nationalities Women Network, Makawanpur (INWN) Nepal
Chundevi Society Nepal Nepal
Kirat Chamling Khambatim Nepal
Pacific Islands Association of NGOs New Zealand
Pacific Women’s Indigenous Networks New Zealand
Pacific Regional Language Partnership New Zealand
Vagahau Niue Trust New Zealand
Pacific-New Zealand CSOs Fono New Zealand
Kilusan Para sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (KATARUNGAN) Philippines
Freedom from Debt Coalition Philippines
PAHRA Philippines
Focus on the Global South Philippines
Sentro ng mga Ngakakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) Philippines
MASIPAG Philippines
Center for Women’s Resources Philippines
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) Philippines
IBON Foundation Philippines
Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC). Philippines
Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas Philippines
WomanHealth Philippines Philippines
KAMP (Campaign for a Life of Dignity) Philippines
Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines
PINAY(Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec) Canada
Community Development Services (CDS) Sri Lanka
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) Thailand
SCODE Vietnam
Borko Peoples Human Rights Organisation/Borok Indigenous Tribal People Development Center

APRN Statement on the deployment of U.S. THAAD ‘Missile Defense System’ in South Korea
August 2016

The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) supports the South Korean people in denouncing the proposed deployment of a United States anti-missile unit in their country. Citing so-called missile threats from Pyongyang, South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye recently announced plans to install the US-designed THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile defense system in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province.

The THAAD is an anti-ballistic missile system supposedly intended to be a defensive measure against long-range ballistic missiles. The THAAD system was designed and developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems and other industry players such as Raytheon under a 689 million USD defense contract with the US Army in 1992. It was in 2008 that the US Army in Fort Bliss, Texas activated the first THAAD battery unit. There are currently six (6) active THAAD batteries stationed in the US, Hawaii, and Guam. In 2011, Lockheed Martin received a 1.96 billion USD contract to produce two THAAD weapons systems for the US Missile Defense Agency and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar has already entered into talks with the defense company to install the missile defense system in its soils under a 6 billion USD sales contract.

In a 2010 report, the US government unveiled its new strategic defense architecture that relies on a globally distributed surveillance and communications systems including THAAD deployments which can be altered to gather ballistics intelligence if placed in strategic locations of interest . Since the US’ withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, it has been conducting massive deployments of missile defense systems to encircle Russia and China. The recent decision to deploy THAAD in South Korea is a key component of the US Pivot to Asia. While making public announcements that the missile defense system to be built in South Korea is intended to prevent attacks from Pyongyang, the real target is to launch a global ballistics defense network that can foil China and Russia’s deterrence capabilities while employing the US military’s first-strike strategy against North Korea . The deployment of the THAAD in South Korea complements the other military activities made by the US to secure its Pivot in the region, which include military exercises with South Korea and other Asia Pacific countries, as well as strengthening defense treaties to build new bases Japan and in the Philippines.

The decision sparked protests from residents across the country citing fears over their health and safety, the inevitable increase of US military presence, and the THAAD system becoming a wartime target should South Korea’s adversaries choose to strike. More than 5000 farmers gathered in Seongju County staged protestes defend their lands against the proposed missile defense system.

Earlier in July, two Korean-American activists were denied entry into South Korea because of their plans to join the protests. Last August 15, more than 900 South Koreans publicly shaved their heads as part of a series of anti-missiles protests in opposition to the deployment of the THAAD on their land . Residents voiced concerns on the probable rise of cancer incidence due to prolonged exposures to high-frequency waves produced by the system’s radar. Aside from the health concerns and possible land grabbing, protesters also lamented the democratic deficit in the decision-making on the installation of the THAAD. According to them, no prior consultations were made with the residents and local government.

The deployment of the THAAD in South Korea further fuels the increasing militarism in the Asia Pacific, and pushes the region into a costly and dangerous arms race placing the people at the center of conflict, displacing entire communities, and violating people’s rights in the process. We call on peoples organizations and civil society in the region to unite in exposing and opposing these US-sponsored military actions as part of its dependence on endless wars of aggression in its bid to salvage itself from economic decline and maintain its hegemonic grip in Asia Pacific.###

Militarism has been employed by states to gain or maintain political and economic power not only against other countries, but also against the people within their own countries. In the 21st century, militarism has evolved into a complex, global, powerful system that employs both and new strategies and modalities that serve the interests mainly of Western powers and multi-national corporations.

As a growing concern of peoples from the region, research on militarism and democracy can provide important insights on how to analyze the rising militarism in Asia Pacific from the perspective of people’s organizations. While there is a not a shortage of analysis on militarism already existing, it is however critical to note that much of these researches are focused on improving military planning and warfare while only a handful of studies are dedicated in investigating the link between militarism and how it destroys democratic rule and even less when it comes to the people and their responses in situations of intensive militarism in their communities. Thus, there is a need to come up with a grounded research that reflects the realities faced by communities and marginalized sectors of society. An equally important dimension this research aims to address is the strand of new military offensives and strategies being employed by US and its allies at the level of policy analyzed from the theoretical focus of neoliberal globalization.

Contributors are expected to begin with their country researches from the 4th Week of May to 1st week of August. Towards ensuring the collaborative method of research and in order to address the fairly tight schedule proposed, contributors are invited to engage in regular consultations to be convened by the Secretariat throughout the period.

June 10, 2016: Deadline of expressions of interest
June-August 2016: Research Proper
August 2016: Deadline of submissions
October 2016: Publication/Launching

Contributors are invited to coordinate with the APRN Secretariat ([email protected]) on matters concerning the report. The Secretariat will hold the responsibility to oversee the compilation of country researches and the editing of contributions.

Even as the implementation of the Agenda 2030 unfolds, questions remain on its enforceability and whether or not such an ambitious development framework can provide sufficient focus on critical issues that need to be addressed in order to transform the world for the better by the year 2030. A particular issue that appears to have been left out is the question of militarism and how it operates to serve the interests of economic elites and transnational corporations at the expense of peoples rights and welfare. There is a dearth of evidence and experience from Asia Pacific peoples attesting to the impacts of this emerging threat to sustainable development which begs the question: what should be done? and for whom?

This briefer aims to shed light on the emerging threat of militarism in the Asia Pacific region and how the Agenda 2030 responds to the issue. It highlights the issue of militarism being used as a legal recourse to aide large-scale resource grabs, how militarism is affecting women and indigenous peoples and how high military spending is diverting resources away from sustainable development financing.

For more information, contact the APRN secretariat at [email protected]