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JASS Monthly Newsletter Strengthening & sustaining women's organizing power

JULY 2013

Indonesian Women Denounce the Passage of Mass Organizations Bill into Law

Women Resist Rights Violations Southeast Asian women are embattled by displacements, discrimination and violence this month. Housing and land rights of the urban and rural poor are threatened with the series of ongoing and impending housing demolitions and land evictions with the influx of big businesses’ mining and other investment operations. Democratic freedoms are likewise threatened, prompting women’s rights organizations, along with social justice groups and people’s organizations to take action.

On July 2, Indonesia’s parliament passed the mass organizations’ bill, also known as the Ormas bill. The new law is touted as a draconian measure that will curb freedom to organize and assemble. This has prompted street protests and raised concerns among social justice groups, including women’s rights groups – that it will allow the government to silence opposition. JASS Southeast Asia’s Dina Lumbantobing said, “It is just like being back to the Old Regime. But we will fight this!” Women activists in Indonesia will take part in pushing for a judicial review of this law, if the House of Representatives would refuse to drop the controversial legislation. Earlier this year, women from the JASS-inspired Forum Aktivis Perempuan Muda (FAMM-Indonesia) joined protest rallies denouncing the repressive bill.

Philippines: Urban Poor Women Stop Waterways Demolition In the Philippines, residents of Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City faced impending demolition in the area as part of the local and national governments’ clearing operation for its development projects. The government has justified its violent demolitions by declaring the communities as “danger zones” and flood prone-areas in Metro Manila. But women activists contend that some of the areas for “clearing” have been identified as ripe for “high-value tourism” and other investments. “What is becoming evident is that government blames flooding on the poor to drive them out. This is an instant solution for the benefit of foreign investors,” said Emmi de Jesus, a woman activist lawmaker from the GABRIELA Women’s Party. Women’s groups such as SAMAKANA (Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa or United Action of Urban Poor Women) and GABRIELA, held constant dialogues with the local government mixed with localized protest actions. With the united action of women’s groups with the rest of the community, the scheduled demolition on July 31 was stopped.

Cambodia: Women March for Peace in the National Elections Seeing the need to call for a just and peaceful elections, women and youth organizations in Cambodia under the umbrella coalition Working Group for Peace took the lead in a peace rally held last July 17, 2013 in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The JASS-inspired youth organization Cambodian Young Women’s Empowerment Network (CYWEN) joined local NGOs such as SILAKA, Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC), Youth for Peace (YFP), Youth Khmer Association (KYA) and many others.

Indonesian Activists Lament the Blocking of LGBT Sites LGBTs in Indonesia experience discrimination and violations of both freedoms of expression and sexuality rights through the blocking of sites that the state considers to contain “morally inappropriate” content. If users attempt to access the sites, a notification appears saying, “The site you tried to open is not accessible for it may contain pornographic material”. The sites taken down provide information on LGBT and women’s fundamental human rights. Since April 2011, there were three internet service providers (ISPs) in Indonesia that blocked LGBT websites such as the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC) website, and the site of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Southeast Asian Women Echo JASS’ Women’s Movement Building Schools Participants of the JASS Women’s Movement Building School [also known as the Training of Trainers (ToT)] held in Bangkok last June 2013 shared their learnings fom the school in their respective organizations. The JASS Network in the Philippines replicated parts of the trainings in their organizations. Likewise, women from FAMM-Indonesia are gearing up to hold these trainings in two regions – Kalimantan and Sulmantap on October 2013. The trainings will be based entirely on the JASS Women’s Movement Building School. Cambodian women participants are planning to develop a Feminist Movement Building manual in Khmer Language by using what they learned in the Bangkok ToT and adapt it to the Cambodian context. Prom “Mao” Leackhena from Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC), one of the participants of the ToT, conducted a training on “Gender Mainstreaming in Adaption and Mitigation of Climate Change” on July 22-25, 2013. There were 25 participants from youth clubs and NGOs who participated, 20 of whom were women. Mao applied many of the methods that she learned from the JASS Southeast Asia ToT into her training.

Jass sea july 2013 newsletter