Written by IBON Foundation, Inc.
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Members of peasant groups and civil society organizations held a picket rally on April 29 at the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Quezon City, Philippines to serve the indictment on human rights violations committed by the regional multilateral institution.
Peasant groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Kalipunan ng mga Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) led the submission of a copy to the ADB of the 44-page suit, which contained the three charges against the multilateral lender: gross violations of economic, social, and cultural rights of people of the Asia-Pacific region; civil and political rights; and people’s national sovereignty and right to self-determination.
These charges are based on violations of various international laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
According to lawyer Jobert Pahilga, lead counsel of the prosecution team, ADB’s policies and programs that are supported by various Asia Pacific governments have contributed to the increasing poverty and worsening quality of life of people in the region.
“Its projects have resulted in disastrous costs for poor communities, marginalized sectors, and the environment,” said Pahilga. “They have also unduly increased the debt dependency in underdeveloped countries, where ADB loans are not directed towards development but are used to influence conditionalities that promote anti-people policies.”
The general and specific allegations against the ADB will be substantiated and proven through testimonies of victims, material witnesses and their relatives as well as documentary and object evidence. According to the complainants, the people’s demands concerning the ADB have continually been disregarded, and no international body exists at present that could make the ADB accountable for their acts.
The suit against the ADB will be brought to trial during the Asia Pacific Peoples' Tribunal on May 2-3 in Bali, Indonesia. Complainants of the suit include 27 organizations from different countries in the region, among them the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (Infid), Institute For National and Democratic Studies (Indies), Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA), Asia Pacific Research Network, Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Resist!, and IBON Foundation.
The complainants also included recommendations in the indictment such as ordering the ADB and governments to respect the rights of peoples to their lives and resources; to discard its neoliberal framework; to compensate, indemnify, rehabilitate, restitute the material and moral damages sustained by the people; to stop all controversial ADB projects, and to charge the respondents before the United Nations and its pertinent committees and Special Rapporteurs, the International Criminal Court (ICC) under the Rome Statute, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), among others.
Meanwhile, today’s picket rally at the ADB headquarters is part of a series of protest actions around the region to register people’s opposition to the ADB. Peasants from Southern Tagalog, where a host of ADB-funded projects such as the Laiban Dam, have displaced and affected the livelihood of rural communities, joined the picket rally.
Civil society groups in Indonesia also formally served the indictment to the ADB resident office in Jakarta and to the other respondents- the governments of Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Japan and the US. The Japan and the US are the biggest donors of ADB.
The peoples' tribunal and protests are held in time for the 42nd Governors Meeting which will be held in Indonesia next week. The protest actions will culminate on May 5 with a Day of Action Against the ADB, which will provide participants with an opportunity to speak out against the multilateral institution. (end)