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Dear friends,

This is the ASA response to the statement released by the Focus on the
Global South. We hope it will give you a clear picture of what the ASA
think and feel.

If you have any comment or question, please feel free to contact the ASA
Regional Secretariat.

In solidarity,
Lee Khai Loon, Rey Asis & Madhav Nepal
ASA Regional Secretariat Members

p/s: below our statement is the statement circulated by the Focus on the
Global South.


Red-baiting and Baseless Accusations have no place in the People's Movement Official Statement of the Regional Secretariat of the Asian Students Association
January 17, 2005

We write this in the light of a statement released by the Focus on the Global South yesterday January 16, 2005, entitled "Assassination and violence have no role in civil society."

We in the Asian Students Association regional secretariat respect the Focus's position with regards to the ongoing matter between Mr. Walden Bello and the Communist Party of the Philippines. Nonetheless, they could have just stopped there. But they did not.

We find it amazing how the Focus suddenly dropped names of organizations towards the end of the statement (see second to the last paragraph) and appealed for their sense of decency. There is nothing decent in what is practically red-baiting.

For did they not resort to red-baiting when they mentioned the Asian Students Association, among many other organizations? Is this in accord to their definition and objective of pluralism? Is this not toeing the line of US imperialist terrorist-listing?

We will not leave the questions unanswered. In the spirit objectivity and critical bias, we shall explain each and every one of them here.

On red-baiting

Has the Focus thought what could possibly happen to the leaders and members of the ASA when it resorted to red-baiting?

Is it not an historical fact that the United States government has used the same tactic in committing genocidal acts against open resistance movements in Chile, Vietnam, Indonesia and Korea, among many others?

Is it not what the repressive governments of Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Augusto Pinochet (Chile) and General Suharto (Indonesia) wielded to legitimize massive political crackdown on movements and peoples?

We believe that the McCarthyist Era is over. Yet surprisingly, a group who professes to belong to the civil society and supposedly meets the challenges of the future with democratic debates has remained stuck up in it.

By resorting to this, the Focus has subjected the regional secretariat and the whole membership of the ASA to open fascism and repression.

Right now, many of our members are already living under repressive states and are fighting for the legality and legitimacy of their work and objectives under harsh conditions.

Some states, until now, are using the tired old red scare to suppress legitimate student and youth organizations. One vivid example is the irresponsible tagging of the League of Filipino Students (which Focus also maliciously mentioned in their letter) and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, both long-time members of the Asian Students Association, as communist fronts which led to the rapacious military crackdown and killing of their members without due process.

In the current context of the hysteria against terror, many countries are already in the process of institutionalizing anti-terrorist laws such as Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the experience of our members in Malaysia, the Internal Security Act has been used by the state to effectively suppress the people's dissent through warrantless arrests and illegal detentions.

We ask then: has not Focus given the license and ammunition to the possible heightening of this attack on our members?

Pluralism?

Why is Focus selective in the forms of struggles when they profess to be pluralist? Does their version of pluralism exclude groups whose principles and forms of struggle are unacceptable to them?

Civil society, we believe and we have learned, does not pass judgment on anyone or anything without sufficient information and bases. It is in the spirit of objectivity and critical thinking that we respect due process, research and collective analysis before coming up with a conclusion. I guess not one person in her right mind would violate this simple method.

What of the Focus?

What audacity has the Focus to determine which one is legitimate and which one is not? What gives them the right to pinpoint and accuse organizations without providing them the chance to speak up?

Has not the damage been done even before we can possibly react?

To our colleagues in the civil society, we ask for your objectivity.

The History and Legacy of the ASA

By putting us in the line of fire, did the Focus not attack the integrity and legacy of the ASA? Is this a civil act of a civil society organization?

The ASA, since our establishment in 1969, has remained true to our tradition and principle of recognizing and respecting the right of our members and movements to determine their own form of struggle.

We will not deny that some of our members, from then until now, have taken up arms to resist their respective repressive states. We shall not deny them for it is an affront to the young lives that have been sacrificed for freedom and democracy. Our members in Palestine, Burma, Laos and even East Timor before its independence have chosen to practice their right to rebel.

Even the international community respects this right of the people. That is why there exist the rules of war and international conventions and protocols that guide the conduct of war.

Solidarity is deeply rooted in the respect of independence and initiative of movements. That is why, until now, despite the difference in forms of struggles of our members - from the tree-hugging activists to those who assert students' rights in schools to those who defend their sovereignty against occupation - we remain united in the principles of anti-imperialism, democracy and social justice.

This is why we believe that the Focus on the Global South does NOT have any right at all to infringe on the independence of any movement, organization or individual for that matter. You do not have any right to judge or label the Asian Students Association.

If the Focus's brand of pluralism includes impinging on one's rights and independence, then it is fraudulent, dishonest, self-contradicting and self-serving.

Mouthing the imperialist line

Now that we have explained ourselves, we go now to the last.

For did they not, with their statements, toe the line of U.S. imperialism when the latter high-handedly placed legitimate organizations, individuals and revolutionary movements in its foreign terrorist list without due process?

By failing to provide their readers the arguments between the two concerned parties beyond their statement, they have deprived their network and their friends the opportunity to be critical and unbiased in their decision. They only provided one news item and not one from the statements they have mentioned of Mr. Fidel Agcaoili and Prof. Jose Maria Sison.

Is this not uncritical bias? Is this not so like the U.S. imperialist hysteria on the war of terror?

There is just one last question ringing in our heads: again, why the mention of organizations? Could it possibly be turning the tables against us, putting us at the defensive, discrediting our names in the global anti-globalization movement?

Why waste seven lines of the statement to simply drop names of
organizations?

Do tell, could this probably be the Focus's own "hitlist", as mentioned by Norberto Gonzales, the chief national security of Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and who caused the killing of more than 40 coordinators of progressive party-lists tagged as communist fronts?

Could it be an addendum as well to the U.S.' own foreign terrorist list?

If it is so, where is the pluralism in that? Where is the civility in that? Tell us, does this undoing speak well of civil society?


Note:
In the interest of fairness, objectivity and democratic debate, we urge
our serious colleagues in the civil society to read the statements of
Mr. Agcaoili, Prof. Sison and even check the website of the "hitlist"
they are mentioning at www.philippinerevolution.org, December 7 issue of
Ang Bayan.

We guess Mr. Bello knows the parameters of this debate, of his exchanges
with Misters Agcaoili and Sison.

end-

Attachment 1:
Dear Friends,

Recently, our executive director Walden Bello was named by the key organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines as a "counterrevolutionary" in a list that included both living and dead activists. After consultation with a number of people, we have
reasons to believe that this represents a real threat to Walden's security.

Focus staff members have therefore decided to call the attention of global civil society to this development, not only out of concern for Walden, but also because we feel strongly that the CPP's drastic method of resolving differences must be publicly condemned by global civil society.

Please find below a signed statement to this effect that we are distributing through the listserves and networks, both in the North and the South, that Focus have been interacting and working with.

We hope to have your support for this action. Any comments would be appreciated.

Chanida Bamford
Deputy Director (on behalf of the staff whose names appear below)

ASSASSINATION AND VIOLENCE HAVE NO ROLE IN CIVIL SOCIETY
A Statement of Concern about a Hit-list including Walden Bello and other Activists

Out of deference to the more than 160,000 victims of the tsunami tragedy that engulfed South Asia on December 26, 2004, we in Focus on the Global South (Focus) have refrained until now from pointing to an alarming development bearing on the security and well being of our Executive Director, Walden Bello.

Focus is not in the habit of calling attention to the status of its staff. This time, however, things are different. In the December 2004 issue of Ang Bayan, the principal organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Walden was singled out as a "counterrevolutionary." His name was listed alongside fourteen
other names of individuals who are either living or dead. Two of the people in the "counterrevolutionaries" list, Arturo Tabara and Filemon Lagman, have already been assassinated, the former just three months ago. Another one, Ricardo Reyes, is being hunted down by operatives of the Communist Party and New People's
Army (NPA) and has been forced to go into hiding.

For people familiar with the history and practices of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its paramilitary wing, the New People's Army, the message of the counterrevolutionaries' list to Walden and the others is unmistakable: You're beyond the pale. You're a "class enemy" to be eliminated, the only questions remaining
being when and where the party will carry out the execution.

For us in Focus, the listing of Walden and other Filipino activists as counter- revolutionaries deserving of elimination comes as a shock. Walden's writings, books, and contributions speak for themselves: a recipient of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize), he is acknowledged to be one of the most articulate critics of US intervention and corporate-driven globalization. Others named in the list include prominent international activist Lidy Nacpil and Etta Rosales, head of the Human Rights Committee of the Philippine House of Representatives.

Walden, along with Congresswoman Rosales, did the best thing they could do to protect themselves upon the issuance of the CPP hit-list: they publicized it in the media. Since then, in a post-facto effort to justify Walden's being on the hit list, scurrilous attacks have been heaped on him by Jose Maria Sison, chairman of the
CPP, and Fidel Agcaoili, another high- level CPP officer. Walden has been pictured as, among other things, an agent of US imperialism and a pro-WTO advocate seeking reform of the organization so it can better exploit the world's people. Focus on the Global South has been pictured as a recipient of "imperialist funds." Organizations and movements that Walden and Focus work with have been labeled "Trotskyite" or "Social Democratic" counterrevolutionary groupings. The global civil society movement that helped bring about the collapse of the WTO ministerials in
Seattle and Cancun has been described as a front for global capitalism. This most recent attack on global civil society is consistent with earlier attacks by CPP-linked groups on the World Social Forum (WSF) and Porto Alegre process as an "imperialist plot" to derail people from world revolution.

Coming from a sectarian political grouping with a very specific agenda, these fantastic charges against Walden, Focus, and global civil society do not deserve a serious answer. It is important to understand, though, what lies at the root of Walden being listed as a counterrevolutionary. Apparently, the CPP and its allied
groups are threatened by the agenda and process of civil-society-led change that Walden and Focus support -- a program that is pluralist, inclusive, and democratic, where different traditions are seen as a source of strength rather than poisons to fundamentalist purity.

But the threat to Walden's life and to the lives of the others named as counter-revolutionaries is very real and cannot be ignored. Moreover, sectarian activities carried out by CPP-linked groups -- activities carried out in the name of "isolating the reformists and counterrevolutionaries"-- are sowing intrigue and conflict in some civil society networks and movements, thus weakening our ranks in confronting corporate-driven globalization and US militarism.

Differences among groups fighting for change are natural. But these differences should be resolved through democratic debate -- this is a fundamental premise of our movement. Seeking to resolve these differences through threats, force, and assassination cannot be condoned and must be denounced in the strongest terms
possible. The use of violence, terror, and assassination must always be condemned, whether the agents are states or non-state actors like the CPP-NPA.

Focus on the Global South calls on all civil society organisations and networks globally to condemn such threats and actions in the strongest possible terms. Being part of a bigger global movement for social justice, we have interacted with, worked with, or even supported groups that are associated or working closely with the
CPP such as Ibon Foundation, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA), International League of People's Struggles (ILPS), KMU (May 1st Movement), Asian Student Association (ASA), and Migrante. We now appeal to the sense of decency of individuals in these and other groups and urge them to denounce these actions and apply moral suasion on Sison and other leaders of the CPP and NPA to refrain from the threat and use of force and assassination.

We make a final appeal to the CPP to desist from its destructive course of action and refrain from dividing the movement fighting against corporate globalisation at a critical time in the struggle for a better, just and equitable world.

Aileen Kwa
Anoop Sukumaran
Ben Moxham
Benny Kuruvilla
Chanida Chanyapate Bamford
Herbert Docena
Jacques-chai Chomthongdi
Joseph Puruganan
Joy Chavez
Julie de los Reyes
Lou Torres
Mary Ann Manahan
Mary Lou Malig
Mayuree Ruechakiattikul
Meena Mennon
Neelam Dhanawade
Nicola Bullard
Praphai Jundee
Sajin Prachason
Shalmali Guttal
Sonila Shetty
Soontaree Nakaviroj
Varsha Berry

Bangkok, January 15, 2005

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