Mekong Youth Network and Mekong school alumni Meeting

By: Mueda Nawanat

Most of our participants attended in this meeting for their first time; we did activities for exchanging experiences from each person. We have been learned the proud of stories in our life; some participants are proud of themselves, because they are indigenous people, proud of their works are contributed to own communities, proud of doing works for woman’s issues, proud of be able to protect the rights and solve the problems, proud of to help people’s living condition.

– Discuss about our dream in our community or Mekong region. We would like to see the justice and equal rights. Because nowadays, in Mekong region has lot of people can’t get the justice and equality, especially indigenous people or people around border areas. We would like to see there are no any violence and disrespect of children’s rights in Mekong region. Because, in Mekong region there are still have these problems in every day, especially children who are very weak and ingenuous. We would like to see the real democracy; Mekong region has no real democracy because of corruption problems. We would like to see there are no war and want to see peace building; some countries in Mekong region still have the civil wars, if a civil war occurs, then many people will die, many children will become orphans, many people will lose the houses, food, parents, life, communities, culture, livelihood. We want to see people have inner peace, because we believe that if people have inner peace, then we can make a peacefully society.

– Discuss about what are important issues and what kind of support we need from Mekong School Alumni Program and Mekong Youth Assembly? They were two big issues; the first issue is environmental issue included Seaport, Dam Construction, Coal Power Plant, Development Project. The second issue is human rights abuse issues include statelessness, children’s rights, human trafficking, land eviction, ethnic conflict and civil war. They want Mekong School Alumni Program and Mekong Youth Assembly to support about documentary training, legal support, funding activities, public security training support, translated legal or environment document, provide the knowledge.

ASEAN Youth Forum

Youth from ASEAN Communities joined ASEAN Youth Forum including Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines and Timor. The 300 Youths participated.  ASEAN Youth Forum is a platform for youth in ASEAN to address their voices of concerns, issues and recommendations to the ASEAN Leaders to influence policy decision-making. This meeting held as the initiative of civil society in ASEAN region in order to respond to ASEAN Summit in May 2014. ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) was first time held in Malaysia with the aim to strengthen the ASIAN people, and following the meeting in the Philippines in 2006, Singapore in 2007, 2009 in Thailand, and 2010 in Vietnam, 2011 in Indonesia, 2012 in Cambodia and 2013 in Brunei, and this year Myanmar held the meeting.

In the ASEAN Youth Forum has workshops; there were 7 issues;

  • The role of Young People and Impacts of Peace and Reconciliation.
  • Empowering Young People’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (Gender, Sexuality, Access to Health, Comprehensive Sexual Education)
  • Promoting Good Governance, Democracy and Freedom of Expression for Young People (National and Regional Levels)
  • Youth Migration: Statelessness, Migrant and Their Rights (Trafficking, Refugees, Statelessness, Migrant Workers)
  • Ensuring Decent Work and Livelihood for the Youth of Southeast Asia
  • Actualizing and Maintaining a Sustainable Environment (Self-Determination, Preservation of Local Wisdom and Indigenous Culture)
  • Quality Education for All Young Southeast Asians


Each participant chose one issue to discuss. We divided all participants as two big groups; the first group’s topic was actualizing and maintaining a Sustainable Environment, which based on self-determination, preservation of local wisdom and Indigenous culture. second group’s topic was Youth Migration based on statelessness, migrant and rights (eg; Trafficking, Refugees, Statelessness, and Migrant Workers)

Our participants shared own experiences, knowledge, and opinions about the environment issues on Mekong River, because our Mekong River has been facing the numerous of large-scale development projects. People around Mekong River got negative impacts from development projects such as: they lost their family, communities, land, life, culture and livelihood. They want to protect the local wisdom, indigenous culture and need the sustainable environment development projects. Some participants joined Youth Migration issue, shared experiences about stateless child’s situation and problems in ASEAN Community. Stateless child come from conflict in country such as: civil war, low quality life, development project. The children and their parents can’t live in own community, they must immigrant to other countries. When they move to other countries, they become the stateless people. They want to solve the problem; find the way to help stateless people to get legal status and equality rights. The representative of ASEAN Communities can’t answer about how stateless people could have a status in ASEAN Communities.  After discussed each issue, participants collected all of information made ASEAN Youth Statement 2014.

Participants got opportunity to met with their partners and friends from their country and from other countries and met with representative from government; they have exchanged about their works on land grabbing, law implementation, outsider investment, youth group network, advocacy campaign, promote the peace, sustainable economic, environment and economic development, children’s right protection, migrant workers and indigenous problems etc. Some participants exchanged their contact addresses in order to work closely or build a strong youth network.

Community Action Guide to the Asian Development Bank Workshop

This action guide is for communities and their allies who are working for development that honors human dignity and the earth.ll over Asia, governments and companies are building huge destructive projects that they called “development.” But communities are often experiencing the hard lives that created by these projects—such as dams, mines, and power plants so communities are mobilizing to stop these destructive projects and are raising their voices to say ‘the real development project does not violates human rights’.

In Asia or Mekong Region, some of these destructive projects have been funded and supported by a financial institution called the Asian Development Bank. One goal of this guide is to help communities to understand the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and utilize the ADB’s safeguard policies as tools in the struggle to make sure development respects human rights.

The first activity: what does development mean to you? Asked participants to draw pictures about community-based development and State-based development projects, then made a comparison to discuss the differences. Everyone shared and discussed about different ideas of development projects. The results of activity, participants can see people have different ideas about developments. Even though, it’s impossible for all of us to agree, but the important thing is we discussed the development issues in our community and our country together. When people are truly able to participate in the decision-making of development process, then development is much more likely to meet everyone’s needs.


The second activity: Impact and Benefits of Development; Asked participants to discuss the development project that they community facing now. What is the intention, and what is the reality? Used a flipchart to note the benefits that the project promises and the impacts it may bring. After discussed they can see government and companies get the benefits, get money, get tax money. But local people oppositely get impacts, loss livelihood, and loss their land. The result of these activities, each participant can see the benefits and impacts from development projects, and learned how we can reduce these negative impacts.

The third activity: Check you Human Rights Temperature; the participants rate how much they be able to fulfill their human rights in their societies by circling a number in a colored marker, with 0 score being not at all and 10 score being fully. Then ask each person to explain her or his answer. Ask the participants to describe a development project, which has violated human rights in their communities.  At result, this activity makes participants to learn that the development project in their countries disrespected the human rights.  End the session by opening a discussion about how to inform project developers, governments and the ADB about abuses of human rights; 1.what can be done to make these agencies understand that they are abusing human rights? 2. What can be done to pressure them to change?

The fourth activity: Meet with ADB and government officials; this activity has a role play, some participants from ADB and the Government officials and some participants from villages. When the villagers meet with ADB and Government’s participants, they must prepare some information and question to ADB and Government. Result of this activity made participants learn about what kind of information need to prepare such as domestic law, international law (human rights law), information of development project etc. When selecting participants, decide who are well prepared to represent the community in the meeting. They can speak the language that they most comfortable like their ethnic group languages. Inform the ADB in advance about which languages will be spoken in the meeting. Before the meeting, communities prepare to discuss some main issues, and make a strong plan for the conversation to make it as effective as possible. Propose a meeting agenda and process to the ADB based on your community’s plan. Be sure to share in advance any information you want officials to review prior to the meeting. During the meeting, speak clearly and confidently. Try to focus on one main question or concern, and do not let the officials avoid answering. Refer to specific requirements in ADB policy rather than making general complaints.

ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum, ACSC/APF

                The representatives from ASEAN Youth Forum did campaign and read Youth Statement 2014 in ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum.  The APF, this conference is more professional than YAF where stakeholders replaced the local people’s voice to speak out current issues about environmental issues and human rights boundary among ASEAN countries. They all came to share the voice of one community for “Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ Solidarity towards Sustainable Peace, Development, Justice and Democratization and address issues around Peace; Justice and Human Rights; Development and Democratization; and ASEAN”. The forum was remarkable and impressive in term of showing cooperation trends among ASEAN community and empowering grassroots’ voices. The activists and NGOs workers organized workshops about human rights, child rights, environment issues, impact of development project, Gender, Sexuality, immigrant, refugees, statelessness, human trafficking, democracy, land grabbing, ecological child rights, labor rights, peace and security in ASEAN, freedom of religion and sex worker rights.

The Youth joined the workshop by own interested. Our member youth joined and shared their experience in the workshop. They shared about build strong community process, youth network, youth role to protect their community or environment, statelessness issue and they were proposal to academic for bring proposal to government.

The Results Conclusion

                – The youth exchanged their experiences, expanded relationship with friends from ASEAN, and studied about the ASEAN political situation and the way they resolve problems.

– The youth shared their knowledge and passed experiences to ASIAN members, and understood the problems, culture, language and livelihood. The youth from ASEAN shared experiences about regional issues that youth are encountering and gave efficient and effective strategic at the national and ASEAN.

– We got more youth networks for continuing to work together in the future and learned about strong network building process and work cooperation from People ASEAN Forum.

– We cooperated write ASEAN Youth Statement with ASEAN Youth for proposal and interface with ASEAN Head of Government

– The youth learned and understood the meaning of the real development project, for example, how to find information, how to be prepared and well organized their ideas when meet with government or company or ADB representatives.