To commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day and the World Human Rights, the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA), which met in Singapore December 7 and 8, wishes to make the following statement:
Democracy is once again under threat in Asia. ARDA, the regional trend of using national security as an excuse to enact draconian laws and to suppress legitimate dissent, freedom of association, assembly and expression has become widespread.
Democracy is a universal human right that is essential for sustainable economic and political security. Democracy lies at the heart of the peoples security and the only effective antidote against terrorism.
Therefore ARDA calls on the governments, civil society and other stakeholders of the region to commit themselves to actions and policies that respect the fundamental need for democracy.
In addition to striving for an independent judiciary and key institutions required for the smooth operation of a democratic society, as well as promotion and protection of human rights, including freedom of association, expression and assembly, ARDA calls for:
– The immediate release of all political prisoners in Asia, including Burmas Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Malaysias Anwar Ibrahim.
– The immediate ceasefire in conflict areas to allow for peaceful and democratic resolutions.
ARDA notes that 2004 is election year in many Asian countries. ARDA calls on governments, political parties, national and regional stakeholders, as well as the international community, to work together to ensure that achievement of free and fair elections that are open to scrutiny by independent international observers. Further, ARDA calls upon the abovementioned to ensure that peaceful and legitimate transition of power after such elections are completed