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Why Does the Disabled Community Talk About Rights?

Daniel Collinge

UN Office High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) Thailand

The international regulation of human rights has been around since the birth of the universal declaration of human rights.

Rights were then introduced into certain fields. For example: economic, social and cultural rights Likewise, the rights of certain groups took form: children’s rights, women’s rights and dis­abled’s rights.

The rights-based approach means that when developing policy in certain fields, policymakers need to consult groups who will be impacted by that policy. With this approach, policy better fulfills the needs of the people.

Those impacted should also be involved in implementing, moni­toring and evaluating that policy. To measure the success of imple­mentation, indicators should be developed together.

Advocacy is needed when a group impacted by policy is left out of making, implementing and evaluating the policy.

Mega Irena

Assistant Director of Social Welfare, Women, Labour and Migrant Workers, ASEAN Social & Culture Committee – ASEAN Secretariat

ASEAN aims at forming the ASEAN Community in 2015 that will in­volve all ASEAN people in the multilateral cooperation. ASEAN will not only a form of collaboration among the governments. The cooperation among ASEAN people will also include some fields, such as human rights, economy, social, and culture.

The aspiration of disabled groups in ASEAN countries has already been heard today, since the dis­abled people are indeed a part of ASEAN people. The discussion on ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) in the high level meetings is such a progress. Although in the coop­eration structure, the disabled group is included in the social welfare category, not human rights.

The disabled people in ASEAN countries should get access to justice, including the political right fulfillment. The challenge faced by them is how to make it a reality. One of the challenges is the different forms of state and government among ASEAN countries; kingdom, presidential republic, and socialist-commu­nist. It has impact on the different democracy processes.

Hang Puthea

Committee for Free and Fair Elec­tion in Cambodia (NICFEC)

In the era of the Khmer Rouge regime, they persons with dis­abilities were negatively im­pacted. They were uneducated, scared and had to stay home. Entering the era of democracy, it takes a serious effort to educate them. This includes education in general politics, including voter education. Cambodia expects support from the international and regional community in this endeavor.


BRAVO for Disabilities

In the Pullman Hotel area, some adolescents, boys and girls in red vest were assisting disabled persons and facilitating the meeting process. They were friends from Bravo for Disabilities.

Bravo is an organization of volunteersimages conference news bravo red disabilities that supports disabled persons and advocates on disabilities issue. The members are students from various universities in Jakarta, with most students studying special education.

At the beginning, they often met during activities focused on addressing issue for persons with disabilities. With a spirit of service, they agreed to establish Bravo for Disabilities on February 27, 2005.

The main service provided by Bravo is volunteers they send to any event on disability issue. “We support any event held by our disabled friends,” said Azis, General Coordinator of Bravo.

Bravo’s involvement usually depends on the organizing committee or organization. Some of them entrust the working mechanism to Bravo by giving the group an explanation about the event. Some organizations give specific jobs the volunteers can help with.

The total number of adolescents in Bravo today is about 160. Bravo makes its presence known at almost every on disability issues in Jakarta. In the conference at Pullman Hotel, Bravo assigned nine volunteers (five boys and four girls) led by Ikhsan Imamuddin, the Volunteer Division Coordinator of Bravo. Ikhsan is Special Education teacher candidate. The Bravo mission may become an inspiration to other adolescents in any country.


KAMPI is a federation of person with disabilities organization in Philippines. As national institution, KAMPI exists in all provinces in the Philippines. It is currently led by Josephine De Vera, a mobility-disabled woman.

This federation is focused on activity in the areas of advocacy, including political rights advocacy for persons with disabilities. In an effort to fulfill the rights of persons with disabilities, KAMPI realizes the importance of accurate data on the number of persons with disabilities.

One of the creativities done by this organization is working together with SM Mall, which has retail networks in all provinces in the Philippines. Data collection, with no objection form the management of the SM Mall, was carried out in its retail locations.

By having accurate data in each province, KAMPI can more easily convey the needs of its members to participate in election for the provincial Election Commission. KAMPI educates its members and persons with disabilities on political processes through various forums.

Hadar N. Gumay

Director of Centre for electoral Reform (CETRO), Indonesia.

From this conference, we can learn from each other and exchange thoughts with representatives from other countries how election processes take place in their country. It is in the best interest of persons with disabilities when we all work together to find solutions.

Indonesia is not the worst when compared to other ASEAN countries in election processes. We can take part in continuing to improve implementation of these processes. Additionally, we can take examples from many ASEAN countries that are starting to recognize and address the political rights of persons with disabilities.

The issue of access for persons with disabilities is still at the top of the list. Government agencies and organizations that directly work with persons with disabilities must work together to address the issues of access. The government, itself, should also take steps to diminish any discrimination faced by persons with disabilities.

Nguyen Hong Ha

Accessibility in election is important, because it is important to each and every citizen. A change in policy about accessibility in election is welcome, but implementation is the most important. The words in a policy provide a framework, but it is our actions which support the policy and determine how the policy will work and be implemented. The only solution is to involve persons with disabilities when formulating in policy because only persons with disabilities can effectively convey what is best for them. The government and policymakers should involve persons with disabilities people in making a safe and accessible environment.

Thailand and Malaysia are countries in Southeast Asia that have already applied independent living for persons with disabilities, so they can make their own decisions and take their own options. This conference is helpful because it shows us how accessible elections for persons with disabilities should be. But it is not enough. We still need a lot of improvement. These are good examples for other Asian countries. Hopefully, it can be implemented.

One idea could be to use an actor or actress so the meeting can function as a bridge between the disabled community and government. People should listen to and work with persons with disabilities to mainstream inclusion of person with disabilities. That is the only solution.

Rene V. Sarmiento

Professor of Human Rights Law and Constitutional Law at The Polytechnic University of The Philippines, College of Law

There should be a regional network of all participating countries in Southeast Asia, institutions and organizations that address disability issues so a mutually beneficial and collaborative working environment is created which facilitates in formation exchange. There also should be a training on what an accessible election is for persons with disabilities. All related parties should immediately produce Braille-lettered ballots for the blind, a deaf-friendly tool for the deaf and ramps for voters who use wheel-chairs. To facilitate and accessible election, all location should be on the ground level of a building. There should be serious effort from the election commissions to address these concerns in a timely fashion.

In the short term, there should be a follow-up to this conference to ensure all policies are implemented. We should keep supporting activities of NGOs on disability issues so our discourse and hopes for increased access for persons with disabilities can be achieved soon.

This news is produced by Diffa, the first and only magazine focusing on disability issues.diffa logo

Regional Conference on Access to Elections for Persons with Disabilities


The Regional Conference on Access to Elections for Persons with Dis­abilities was opened at the Pullman Hotel, Jakarta, on February 1, 2012.The event was organized by the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) with enhancing the participation of persons with disabilities in elections in mind.

The event began with a speech from the Head of Program Develop­ment and the Partnership Associa­tion of Disable Persons in Indonesia (PPCI) Maulani Agustiah Rotinsulu. Approximately 150 participants from Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Myanmar, Vietnames, Philippines, Laos, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Bru­nei, Malaysia and various interna­tional organizations turned out for the event.

“It is very important to give more attention to persons with disabili­ties to participate in accessing the elections in South East Asia,” Rotin­sulu said. “This dialogue is essential so we can work together and learn from each other.”

The event was officially opened by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Wardana and Chairman of the Central Election Disabled Access / PPUA PENCA Ariyani Soekanwo.

Wardana said that there are three declarations related to the rights of persons with disabilities: the Jakarta Declaration, the Declara­tion of Election Forum and the Bali Declaration, which is the strongest declaration of its type.

“Encouragement should be offered by many in social, cultural, eco­nomic and political aspects. Spe­cial attention on politics based on article 29 relating to the CRPD has governed the accessible election and voting rights for persons with disabili­ties,” Wardana said.

ASEAN countries that have ratified the provisions concerning persons with disabilities can learn and share the implementation of accessible elec­tions for persons with disabilities. Some obstacles include lack of access to information about elections, voting locations that cannot be reached and lack of resources and capacity build­ing for the persons with disabilities.

ASEAN countries will also formulate recommendations to the ASEAN Inter­governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) with related parties with respect to the election in their respective countries. It should be a shared commitment of ASEAN coun­tries to promote the participation of persons with disabilities through po­litical participation so that their social, economic, cultural and educational rights will also be fulfilled.

The active role of government is needed for persons with disabilities to become a more integrated part of society.

Persons with disabilities make up about 15 percent of the population and have the same rights as other members of society, making this con­ference so important.

This news is produced by Diffa, the first and only magazine focusing on disability issues.diffa logo


images conference profile Joazito dos SantosJoazito dos Santos

More than 90 percent of Timor Leste buildings provide no ac­cess. Only two new buildings, the Office of the President and Secretary of State, have an elevator and ramp.

Joaozito dos Santos, known as Jon, is the only participant from Timor Leste in the Re­gional Dialogue on Access to Elections for Persons with Dis­abilities. He is the coordinator of Disabled People Organisa­tion (DPO), a non-governmen­tal organization that advocates for persons with disabilities. “We support their pleas from discrimination and help them obtain their rights,” Jon said.

According to Jon, Article 21 of Timor Leste Laws states that all persons with disabilities are to receive equal rights to those of other citizens. Yet, in reality, implementation of the law is a far cry from what is written.

When considering accessibility, Jon said, more than 90 per­cent of Timor Leste buildings provide no access. Transporta­tion is also similar. “Perhaps 99 percent of transportation, both infrastructure and vehicle, have no venues of access,” Jon said.

The same condition exists in education. Timor Leste only has one Special School for the Dis­abled at the elementary level. “We have no junior and senior high school which can accom­modate persons with disabili­ties if they want to continue their study. They may need to go to Indonesia,” Jon contin­ued. In the Ministry of Educa­tion’s plan, the Special School becomes a resource center to implement inclusive education. “But no implementation has been achieved until now,” Jon explained.


Focusing on a Brighter Future

 image conference news featured 2

On Thursday afternoon the Regional Dialogue on Access to Elections for Persons with Disabilities came to an end. The two-day conference on enhancing the role and participation of persons with disabilities and promoting election access for all included a variety of sessions that delved into complex topics on access.

The closing session showcased the organizing committee.

Made up of participants from eight countries, the committee seemed satisfied with the conference overall.

After the closing session, the participants took photographs together.

Yusdiana, program manager from PPCI for AGENDA, acted as the committee head. She said that the conference provided valuable lessons about election and disability issues. “We share our experiences to better other countries. We share information,” she said.

Among the eight countries in the AGENDA network, some have better experiences in the implementation of elections than others. Some countries have good experiences in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The conference highlighted both these successes and the areas in need of improvements.

The success of the conference suggestions that another will take place in the future, which involve the AGENDA network and increasing the role of people with disabilities in elections.

Beyond the possibility of a second meeting, there will be an observing program in the future, as well. With elections in three countries – Malaysia, Cambodia, and Timor Leste – the AGENDA network plans to observe them all. “Therefore, we can learn from each other,” Yusdiana said.

This news is produced by Diffa, the first and only magazine focusing on disability issues.diffa logo




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