ASEAN Plan for Rights Charter Highlights Gulf Between Rhetoric and Reality

ASEAN Plan for Rights Charter Highlights Gulf Between Rhetoric and Reality

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Refugees from the horrors of Burma face legal limbo and police harassment inside Thailand. Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia complain of mistreatment amid police attempts to lock them in their workplaces at night. The Hmong minority in Laos are hunted like animals by their country's repressive communist regime. In "sophisticated" Singapore it's illegal to congregate and raise a voice of protest in public.

Against this depraved everyday background, the Association of Southeast Nations is about to create some form of human rights agency as part of its dream to become the European Union of Asia.

Fat chance, say the 10-country organization's critics, while it tolerates such goings-on, and procrastinates about "brother" Burma's internationally condemned military regime.

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