Democracy and civic freedoms have come under increasing pressure in Southeast Asia over the past years. Under the pretense of ensuring stability, national security and public order, regional governments continue to severely curtail fundamental political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights of its citizens. Unregulated investments, facilitated by rent-seeking governments, in particular in the poorer ASEAN-countries, increasingly disenfranchise and deprive local communities of their livelihoods at a large scale.
In dealing with these trends, the Democracy & Participation Program strongly commits to the promotion of human rights, democratic participation and gender equality. Among others, we support civil society organizations that engage in the protection of freedom of expression, media freedom and digital rights, a particularly important issue in times of increased digital censorship and surveillance by state authorities across the region. As the ongoing ASEAN integration will be essentially defined by the movement of people across borders, the program will also engage in activities related to the rights of refugees and migrants. Overall, the aim of the Democracy & Participation Program is to assist partners and civil society organizations in creating public space for dialogue and open debates as well as developing adequate strategies for their respective advocacy campaigns. This encompasses (I)NGOs, alternative media, think tanks, scholars, youth activists, artists, LGBT and women’s organizations.