By FMA MANILA, Philippines, 30 September 2004
APC member in the Philippines, the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), together with Bread for All (Switzerland), the World Alliance for Christian Communication (WACC) and the Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) Campaign recently organized a workshop entitled “Communication Rights: An Asian Solidarity Towards a Regional Agenda for Articulation and Action”.
Seen as an offshoot of the Bangkok leg of the World Summit in the Information Society (WSIS) preparatory activities, the Manila workshop was intended to deepen the discussions on pressing communication rights issues in the region which include the repression of various forms of expression and media structures, the demands of the intellectual property regime in the production and dissemination of knowledge, internet governance, linguistic and cultural diversity, and gender.
As it attempted to translate plans and other alternatives into national and regional campaigns, the workshop gathered some of the most passionate advocates who have been involved not only in local development projects but have also been engaged in global movements.
Representatives from Japan, Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Nepal and East Timor provided a bird’s eye view of the pervading trends and issues related to communication rights in their countries as well as the political, economic and even cultural implications of certain global structures and covenants in their national lives. Aside from the country reports, the dynamics in international policy bodies such as the WSIS, World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO), the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their effects on the local communities have likewise been discussed.
The workshop proper mainly dwelled on four areas: freedom of expression and media freedom; cultural diversity and plurality; intellectual property rights; and access and finance. It was popularly decided to incorporate gender aspect in all areas.
Key organisations, in the end, were tasked to head specific advocacies such as indigenous peoples’ rights, media literacy, women empowerment, internet governance, and free and open source software. Others are expected to organize national communication rights workshops.
Among the notable outputs of the event was a statement of support for one of the participants, Supinya Klangnarong. Secretary-General of Campaign for Popular Media Reform, Klangnarong who is being sued by the Shin Corporation, an entity controlled by the family of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.