Focus in 2016 initiated and engaged more vigorously in endeavors that challenged the impunity of state and non-state actors in the region. One of the main approaches in doing this was working closely with human rights organizations and networks of rights defenders and activists. The Focus team from all offices joined protests and mobilizations in solidarity with grassroots communities, social movements, and other civil society organizations. We raised awareness on the increasing criminalization of, and violence against, activists and human rights defenders in the Asia region through our End Impunity Campaign and first edition of our End Impunity Newsletter.
We supported farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor, and workers in defending their rights, whether by providing them with timely analysis, political education, and legal/material support, and by drafting/translating statements and declarations especially through our national programs in Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and India, as well as by marching with them in protest actions.
Aside from giving support to other organizations and movements, we organized our own forums, gatherings, conferences, with themes/ issues ranging from discussions of Humanity and Nature and what is happening to our forests, to workshops on agroecology, and strategy meetings on trade and investment. We strengthened our campaigns at national and regional levels against multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements such as RCEP and the EU-Philippines FTA, and built greater popular resistance against the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
Knowledge outputs were key in our work to raise awareness of social, political, economic, and ecological issues. We wrote numerous articles and produced and disseminated publications throughout the year. Improvement of the content of the Focus website and social media platforms was also a priority to better disseminate our analyses and advocacies we support, and our work and staff were featured on a number of news media platforms (internet, broadcast/television) throughout the year.
We were also resource persons/speakers in a number of public events and with a range of audiences, including at the World Social Forum, ASEAN Peoples’ Forum, Asia-Europe Peoples’ Forum and 17 conferences nationally, regionally, and internationally.