The people of the Asia and the Pacific region are outraged at the absolute insensitivity of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as it chose Uzbekistan to be this year’s host country for its 43rd annual meeting.
The ADB has once again demonstrated its anti-people and undemocratic character to the whole world.
The ADB turned a blind eye to the fact that Uzbekistan government has a dismal record insofar as human, civil and political rights are concerned, and that it continues to crack down on peoples’ groups, media groups and religious institutions in the country. Reports from various international institutions, including that of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, reveal that despite increasing cases of human rights and political and civil rights violations, the government officials of this country continue to act with impunity.
The appalling condition in Uzbekistan make it impossible for the civil society to organise parallel events at the annual ADB meeting and even more so, to participate in the official event itself due to the non-committal of ADB to ensure the safety and security of civil society who wished to participate. Even the people of Uzbekistan will not be able to fully participate in the annual meeting because of the repression and oppression of the Uzbekistan government on its people.
It is sheer hypocrisy on the part of ADB to open the event to the media and civil society organisations given the reasons stated above. And to the further disappointment of the people, the ADB’s so-called mission and vision of bringing development to the region all fall into much more insincerity as they once again demonstrated the lack of democracy and transparency from all its stakeholders.
In the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Tribunal on ADB which was held last year, the people attested to a long list of violations on the rights of the people. And to now add to ADB’s list of offence, the 43rd annual meeting has proven ADB’s support of oppressive governments through holding their meeting in Uzbekistan and curtailing the rights of the civil society to take part in the official event in which the peoples’ representation is crucial and imperative.
The Asia Pacific Peoples’ Tribunal on ADB
During the 42nd ADB annual meeting, the Asia Pacific Research Network held the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Tribunal on ADB event in Bali, Indonesia. The objectives of this event were: 1) To raise the voice of the people whose lives have been impacted by ADB projects; 2) To question the legitimacy of the ADB as a development agency; and 3) To promote a genuine and pro-people development framework as the solution to the global and regional economic and financial crisis.
The people submitted the proceedings of the Peoples’ Tribunal to the ADB and after a year, we haven’t seen any effort from ADB to reverse its policies and to resolve the ill-effects it brought to the lives of the people in the region. What we witness is the continuing violation of ADB to rights of the people and the continuing projects which bring more havoc to the Asia and the Pacific region.
The verdict of the Peoples’ Tribunal on ADB are the following:
First, the loans/grants given out by the ADB were not geared toward the alleviation of poverty but were tied up with conditionalities that promote liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation. Liberalisation had been proven to be detrimental to domestic agriculture and industry while privatisation and deregulation have rendered public utilities inaccessible to the people and hindering public access to social and economic services, education, health services and food security.
The ADB projects were implemented without considering environmental and ecological safety, culture, indigenous knowledge and traditions of the communities which were supposed to benefit from the projects of ADB. The illegitimate debts incurred by the governments in the Asia Pacific Region are passed on to the people through taxes and higher prices.
Second, it was established that the ADB supported dictatorial and authoritarian regimes responsible for widespread violation of civil and political rights of the citizens. In areas where there are opposition to ADB funded projects, project proponents used threat, intimidation, harassments and even killings to stifle the voices of the opposition.
Third, the people have accused the respondent of violating people’s sovereignty and the right to self-determination. The evidence submitted to the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Tribunal on ADB proved that through the ADB’s Development Policy Support Program (DPSP), debtor countries were compelled to adopt the policies imposed by ADB as conditions for release of loans. It was also shown that ADB imposed its will on the communities and indigenous peoples despite opposition and without due regard to their culture and traditions.
The Asia Pacific Peoples’ Tribunal on ADB has issued its JUDGMENT on ADB and the Governments of the United States of America, Japan, Republic of the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan:
i) The Asian Development Bank is ordered dismantled;
ii. Its policy on debt, privatization of water and public utilities, and other anti-people policies were proven detrimental to the rights of the peoples to life, livelihood, dignity and freedom from want and are hereby DECLARED illegal with no force and effect, and are now deemed revoked;
iii) All illegitimate loans and obligations of the debtor governments is ordered written off and repudiated;
iv) The Asian Development Bank and the government respondents are hereby ORDERED jointly and severally liable to compensate and indemnify the victims’ of the violations they have committed; to rehabilitate the economies of the countries and the livelihood of the people they have damaged; and restitute the peoples of the environmental, material, personal, and moral damages that resulted from the implementation of the immoral, unjust and inhumane policies. In addition, the Asian Development Bank and the government respondents are likewise ordered to issue a sincere public apology
to the plaintiff s as well as to the other oppressed and exploited peoples of the world and to cease and desist from implementing its anti -people policies and projects;
v) The appropriate charges be filed against the Asian Development Bank Defendants and the respondents governments 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) for the violations they have committed hereof. For this purpose, the Clerk of this Court is hereby directed to prepare the necessary charges and that the same be forthwith transmitted to the aforesaid agencies;
vi) The Governments of the defendant-states are hereby ADMONISHED for disregarding the rights of its citizens to life, liberty, livelihood, dignity and freedom from want and are ORDERED to withdraw their membership from the ADB and their support of its policies;
vii) The Asian Development Bank and the respondent governments are hereby ORDERED
to uphold the rule of law, respect the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights the people and desist from adopting policies or measures that restrict, infringe upon or impair such rights;
viii) The individual heads of states and governments are hereby ORDERED forcibly ousted or overthrown from positions of power and perpetually and absolutely barred from holding any public office;
In the interim,
ix) The Asian Development Bank, respondent Governments of the United States and Japan are ORDERED to desist from interfering in the affairs of the Asia Pacific Region;
x) The tribunal further ORDERS the creation of a legitimate and independent body to try other crimes committed in furtherance of the policies imposed by the Asian Development Bank;
xi). The findings of this Tribunal may be invoked among solidarity groups and individuals and in the international community to support the struggle of the peoples of the Asia Pacific Region against the unjust policies of the Asian Development Bank.
We call on the people to once again unite and demonstrate our strength and readiness to battle with ADB and its cohorts.
We uphold the verdict that the Peoples’ Tribunal has come up for it is the voice of the people in the region. We will not honour the new policies and sugar-coated reports which the 43rd annual meeting of ADB will arrive at for the peoples’ participation and voice were suppressed and the transparency and democracy of the process were all put aside.
We reaffirm the JUDGMENT we arrived at the Peoples’ Tribunal and we will stand together and work as one to attain development without our rights, our environment and our democracy being put into danger.
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