Commemorating International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

December 10th is the International Human Rights Day, the very day when in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is observed and celebrated around the world. Taking this opportunity, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Regional Office, Southeast and East Asia, likes to look back as well as look forward to our distinctive human rights activities in the region for 2021. Most importantly, it is our honor to commemorate human rights defenders in the region for their continuous efforts and fight to advocate protection for all. This year, women turn out to fearlessly fight against the issues pressing the region.

The theme for FNF Southeast and East Asia Regional Office this year revolves around “Restart” Campaign, our recovery efforts to ensure human rights after the Covid 19 pandemic. However, even before the pandemic, Southeast and East Asia has already been suffered inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination due to democratic backsliding. Regional office, including our project offices in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, either individually or cooperatively carry this spirit to advocate human rights even amidst restrictions and limitations across the continent. Below lists our featured human rights activities for 2021.

Human Rights Cartoonists' Perspectives
© craftora

The exhibition is a virtual human rights cartoon event where 38 political cartoonists from 5 countries in ASEAN: Malaysian, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar present their views of human rights issues in the form of artworks. The event was held on www.craftora.com from 1st to 31st July 2021. 

Report Launch on Business and Human Rights in Southeast Asia: Progress towards Developing National Action Plans (December 15th 2021)

As of 2021, in Southeast Asia, Thailand is the only country that has published the national action plans (NAPs) on business and human rights; while Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines have either expressed their intention or have undertaken necessary steps to develop their NAPs. This event, convened to mark the launch of a new report, will take stock of the latest developments and challenges to the implementation of the NAPs in Southeast Asia. It will, in particular, focus on the participation of business organisations and parliamentarians in realising the NAPs. During the event, to mark the launch of Asia Centre and Fredrich Naumann’s publication Business and Human Rights in Southeast Asia: Developing National Action Plans, invited speakers and discussants will review the role(s) of the states and discuss case studies. The aim is to identify the way forward for the positive adoption of NAPs in the region and convene regular activities around issues related to business and human rights in the region.

Register here to learn more about the report!

ASEAN Peoples Speak Podcast by Regional Working Group for Human Rights Mechanism (RWG) (November 5th – Present 2021)

ASEAN Peoples Speak

On November 5th 2021, Ray Paolo Santiago, the secretary general of the working group, joined as a guest speaker for the first episode of ASEAN Peoples Speak podcast to discuss rewards and challenges of human rights issues in Southeast Asia. Ray Paolo Santiago looks back at his experience in advocating human rights in the past 25 years and how he battles frustrations and compassion fatigue in the region.

The working group for the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism – a partner of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for decades - is a group of like-minded individuals, such as human rights lawyers, human rights activists and government officials. The purpose is to support the establishment and development of credible and effective human rights mechanisms in Southeast Asia.

ASEAN PEOPLES SPEAK is the first ever program created to draw more attention to pressing human rights issues in the region. Stay tune for more episodes on the Spotify or their YouTube channel!


The digital seminar was held with the expectation of raising people’s awareness that overcoming the Pandemics should be the concern of all. When everyone is aware of the rights, it is expected that everyone would be happy taking the vaccination shots, and together Wonosobo people will overcome the Pandemics. The panel was hosted by four resource persons where each of them stated the importance of human rights and rights to health and the situation of the vaccination in Wonosobo.

The seminar was held back in September 2nd 2021. It was a successful event with 583 participants from various sections such as the officials from local government departments, local human rights commissioners, local family welfare activists, Wonosobo Human Rights Desk, as well as the general public of Wonosobo. Not only that, people from outside circle also joined this seminar such as nurses, local doctors, and local government officials from other provinces. Watch the discussion here!

Telenisa Tells

For Malaysia, the selected session, “Leave a Wife Hanging: a Mistreatment against Women” was hosted via Telenisa Tells. It was highlighted the issue of when a husband abandons his wife without a proper divorce. This session discussed alternative solutions for the wife if she ever finds herself stuck in this situation. A Syariah Lawyer was invited as resource person in this episode and she shared on how to apply for divorce under the Muslim Family Law in order to assist the wife. This episode also addressed the issues surrounding the struggles of wives and lived realities after husband’s death; the call for awareness on wife’s rights in the distribution of husband’s wealth after his death; and at the same educate the wives on wealth distribution and inheritance in the Muslim Family Law. Watch this session in Malaysian language on facebook.

The Philippines

Online Event: Kapihan on Human Rights (December 7th, 10th and 15th 2021)

Kapihan on Human Rights

It is a three-part online event series that will discuss three different issues concerning human rights that have affected the country in the past couple of years, namely; 1) Philippine Human Rights Scorecard in the Time of Covid-19, 2) Freedom of Speech and Expression in the Time of Rampant Disinformation, and 3) The Philippine Human Rights Electoral Agenda. All these online series will be conducted through the time stated here:

  1. December 7, 2021 at 2-4PM (PHT); watch the recorded video here.
  2. December 10, 2021 at 2-4PM (PHT); register here.
  3. December15, 2021 at 10am - 12nn (PHT); register here.

This event series are hosted by the Philippine Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, in partnership with FNF Philippines, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, and Alternative Law Groups.

Impact of Covid 19 on Human Rights

Human rights are a set of principles concerned with equality and fairness.

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10th, as the date marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDH) in 1948. The UNDR stipulates a certain set of basic human rights for all people to be protected and promoted. These rights are as relevant to us today as they were in 1948. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the exercise of fundamental human rights, namely freedom of expression, assembly and association. Even before the pandemic, a number of countries in Southeast Asia have already experienced democratic backsliding. Popular and nationalistic leaders use hate speech to divide communities. Critical reporting by journalists is branded as fake news and thus criminalized by a number of anti-fake news legislation. Online discussion and communication is disrupted as governments impose internet shutdowns or suspend telecommunication connectivity. In commemorating the Human Rights Day, Asia Centre and its partners take stock of the latest developments in the region, raise awareness of rights violations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and advocate for human rights promotion and protection for all.

Watch here to learn more about the discussion with Asia Centre and FNF Thailand.

FemaleChangeMaker Vietnam

Millions of women cannot access the contraception and safe abortion services that could transform their lives. Unsafe abortion is often enough not only a personal tragedy, but a public health crisis. It has an economic impact as well as unwanted pregnancies in the factory industry can result in a huge loss in productivity. Contraception changes lives. It allows women to take control of their futures – and in doing so, it drives economic and social development.

From contraception to safe abortions, and life-saving services following unsafe procedures, MSI Reproductive Choices is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare for all. The organisation has over 9,000 team members working in 37 countries across the world. Under the leadership of Mrs. Hang, MSI has been awarded the most innovative and sustainable foreign NGO in the country. We will discuss with her what it takes – also politically - to mitigate the current situation for women in Vietnam and worldwide.

This online event is part of the #femalechangemaker series, in which moderator Karoline Gil presents women from around the world who are fighting for freedom, human rights and democracy in their countries. The discussion will be held in English.

With this online discussion, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Friedrich Naumann Foundation contributes to making the UN´s Agenda 2030 more known - especially regarding human rights and rule of law.

Sign up here for the talk!

Women of the Year 2021: Human Rights Defenders of Southeast and East Asia

Women of the Year 2021

You try until the very end and if there is no very end, you continue.


In addition to these outstanding activities, honorable are women across the region fighting for human rights and most pressing issues of their countries. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom works together with these outstanding women, over the years, to ensure human rights in the region. They are our freedom change makers. In 2021, the stories of Mu Sochua from Cambodia, Emily Lau from Hong Kong and Leila de Lima from the Philippines were highlighted alongside their interviews in our human rights publication. Please read their stories here.

I remain unconquered.

Leila de Lima

Maria Ressa, CEO of our long-term partner Rappler, was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for her continued effort to fight against misinformation and disinformation under Duterte Regime in the Philippines. Ms. Ressa worked together with FNF, hand in hand, to fight for press freedom in the Philippines. Her work and leadership this year was well recognized across the world.

Presley Wong, an activist from Hong Kong, featured in our Women Leading Protest Documentaries to retell her life as a woman activist in an authoritarian state. You can watch her story here!

Last, but not the least, 2021 is a memorable year for FNF with many colorful activities and outstanding highlights among women human rights defenders in the region. We are very pleased to present these activities and work with brave changemakers of the region. Southeast and East Asia office promises to keep fighting for human rights in the region with our local and international partners, the hearts of our liberal values to raise flag for freedom that belongs to all.

Human Rights Defenders Publication