BANGKOK, Aug. 24 (IPS) -- Under the guise of "national security," Asian governments are undermining their people's political and civil liberties, says a report released here today.

In the report "Human Rights in Asia" for 2000, the Bangkok-based Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) says governments often use national security laws --which place substantial power in the hands of the government or security forces -- to curtail some, or all, of an individual's human rights.

The report by the regional human rights group singles out countries whose national security acts are "great obstacles to the full enjoyment of democracy," including South Asian nations like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and East Asian ones such as Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and China.


Among the high-profile examples the report cites are [...] and the Chinese government's crackdown on members of the Falun Gong religious group.


The Chinese government has banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement, calling it an "[Jiang's slanderous term omitted]" that would bring "harm to the society." Rights activists say thousands have been detained without trial for alleged involvement with the group.

"Despite the rhetoric used to support these laws, which usually describes serious threats to national stability and peace, national security laws are most often used as blunt instruments to silence opposition, protect illegitimate regimes, and oppress innocent members of the population," the report argues.