ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) will host an online press conference at 3pm Bangkok time on Thursday 2 December, for the launch of our new report, Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against opposition MPs in Southeast Asia in 2021. The report builds on the 2020 version of the report, documenting the increased threats faced by MPs in the region in the past year.
The last year has seen a dramatic rise in the number of MPs detained across Southeast Asia, from just one in 2020 to 91 in 2021, largely due to developments in Myanmar, where the military seized power in a coup in February. Scores of other MPs in Myanmar have been driven into hiding where they remain at risk of arrest.
Governments also used responses to COVID-19 to unjustifiably silence democratic debate, including by bringing politically-motivated cases against critics and lawmakers who expressed dissenting views.
Judicial harassment against MPs continued in countries like Thailand and the Philippines, and escalated substantially in Malaysia, while online abuse and harassment of MPs continued at an alarming rate throughout the region, often through coordinated disinformation campaigns. In the Philippines, such abuse spiked ahead of the upcoming elections in 2022.
Speakers at the Press Conference will include Teddy Baguilat Jr, a former Philippines MP and APHR Board Member, Rangsiman Rome, a Thai MP and APHR Member, as well as an MP from Myanmar. At the event, a statement will also be read out from Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, an APHR Member, who has been arbitrarily detained for almost the past five years. The event will be moderated by Al Jazeera Correspondent Jamela Alindogan, and will be followed by a Question and Answer session.