18 October, 2003
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN AP) expresses distress and dismay at the sentencing of Dr Irene Fernendez, Director of Tenaganita and Chair of PAN AP. It is a terrible day and spells a tremendous setback in the work of the NGOs particularly in Malaysia and their effort to bring into focus the plight of thousands of workers particularly migrant workers throughout Malaysia.
Dr Irene Fernendez has been known to be a champion of human rights and has zealously defended the rights of plantation and industrial workers for a safe working environment for close to 3 decades. Her work on documenting the impact of pesticides on women plantation workers through a systematic and scientific investigation has resulted in the banning of paraquat by the Malaysian Government. It must be noted that based on the banning of paraquat by the Malaysian government, other governments are seriously considering restricting and banning paraquat in their own countries.
Dr Irene is also known for asserting the rights of women in Malaysia and also at the global level. We at PAN AP have already started receiving messages of concern from partner organizations regarding the sentence, which they consider unjust. During the past few days, I have been in workshops with groups from all over the world who are primarily working on human rights issues and it is from them that I bring these concerns.
For all the participants of the International Workshops from whom I bring this message, it is a matter of prime concern that Irene be amongst them and in the forefront of all their movements as she remains the role model on the issue of human rights and the rights of migrant workers all over the world.
In the recent international workshops PAN AP has planned a Global PEOPLEˇ¦s CARAVAN for FOOD SOVEREIGNTY in the forthcoming year. The international participants of the workshop have unaminous chosen Dr Irene Fernendez to flag off the commencement of the event in Malaysia irrespective of her sentence. This Caravan will be followed and taken forward with the message of equity and justice throughout the rest of the world.
Sarojeni V. Rengam Executive Director
Posted on 2004-01-09