(Bangkok, 6 August 2014): The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is alarmed and gravely concerned at the significant number of deaths as well as attacks on civilian targets such as schools and hospitals in Gaza. “It was just over five years ago that we saw, with horror, very similar attacks on civilian targets located within densely populated civilian enclaves in Sri Lanka” said Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, member of FORUM-ASIA’s Executive Committee. “Accountability and justice are yet to be established for what happened in Sri Lanka but following this the UN launched the Rights Up Front initiative to stop such attacks. It is however unfortunate that despite this initiative, the UN and the international community have failed to prevent civilian deaths in Gaza” he said, while calling on the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council last month to look into this at the earliest.
In this respect, FORUM-ASIA welcomes the UN Human Rights Council‘s decision to urgently dispatch an independent international Commission of Inquiry to look into violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law at its 21st Special Session on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem. FORUM-ASIA further endorses concerns expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at this session.
Reflecting on this decision taken by the Council, Ms. Evelyn-Balais Serrano, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA said: “While we appreciate most Asian members of the Council who supported this decision we are deeply disappointed by Japan and the Republic of Korea who decided to abstain”.
“It is imperative to provide unhindered humanitarian access to the affected civilian population inside Gaza” Ms. Serrano added, while calling for a lifting of all blockades that affect free movement of humanitarian assistance.
Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan also called on Asian states to “curb their economic and military ties with Israel in order to pressure the country to respect international humanitarian law and cooperate with the UN Commission of Inquiry and other international accountability mechanisms.”
“There are clear indications that civilian deaths during this latest armed conflict can be linked to disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks that are outlawed under international humanitarian law and both sides should immediately cease such attacks” said Mr. Henri P. Tiphagne, Chair of FORUM-ASIA’s Executive Committee, while calling for Asian states to work together towards an end to the conflict and an early resolution of unresolved and long running political issues in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that have led to the loss of thousands of civilian lives in repeated conflicts over many decades.
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a regional human rights group with 47 member organisations in 16 countries across Asia. With offices in Bangkok, Jakarta and Geneva, FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expression, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratisation.
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