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THE MAY 18
MEMORIAL FOUNDATION

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Exchange & Solidarity Projects

Gwangju Asia Forum is an annual event held in May every year with officials from the organization for democracy, human rights and peace to discuss and share creative alternatives to human rights, democracy and peace in Asia.? The origin of this event is the “Solidarity Network for democratic victims in Asia“. ?Since its inception in 1999, it has been renamed “International Peace Camp(2004)“, “International Peace Forum (2007)“, and has been established as the“ Gwangju Asia Form “in 2010.

In this forum, participants from around the world, mainly from Asian countries, shared the democratic, human rights and peace spirit of the May 18 Democracy Movement, which was the driving force behind the June 1987 uprising and the candlelight revolution that impeached the corrupt president ,Park Geun-hye in 2016 and conducted a analysis of the situation and the way forward. ? Gwangju Asia Forum is also known to encourage human rights activists from Asian countries who aspire to realize democracy, human rights, peace, and the rule of law to continue their activities without giving up by encouraging each other and cementing their solidarity on a rocky road

2018

  • Theme: Time to Implement
  • Keynote Speaker: Basil Fernando (Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong)
  • Participants : Around 400 participants from 22 countries?
    • Key Participants : 21 key participants such as Asian Human Rights Chater Commissioners and previous laureates of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights
    • 2018 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights laureates : Father Nandana Manatunga and the attendants
    • Special guests : 12 special guests including Ms. Martha Huntley
    • Participants from Asian region : 34 persons including Asuma Ruba
    • Asia Grassroot Support Workshop Participants : 9 persons including Rem Bahadur?
    • May 18 Education Forum Participants : 70 persons including Ahmed Damanik
    • Asia Youth Forum Participants : 17 persons including Bopapung Rimpat
    • International Conference on Trauma Participants :70 persons including Bernard McCreeth
    • MAINS Program Students : 6 persons including Jaishi Shanku Prasad
    • GNMP Program Students : 6 persons including Stephie Kabre
    • Panels and Advisors : 6 persons including Lee Jaeui
    • East Asian Democracy, Human Rights, and Peace Foundation Participants : 27 persons including Moon Jeongsoo
    • Staffs : 11 persons
    • Domestic Participants for the Opening Ceremony : 100 persons

2017

  • Theme : Resist! From 1980 Gwangju to 2017 Candlelight Revolution
  • Keynote Speaker : Prim Boonpattaraksa (Human rights lawyer in Thailand / 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights laureate's mother)
    • Key Participants :
      • Asian Human Rights Commission Session : 15 persons, including PYAKUREL SUSHIL RAJ in Nepal?
        • Asian Youth Leadership Session: 49 international participants including Sahawiah Abdullah from Indonesia, 5 domestic participants including Suh Sooyeon
        • Grassroot Workshop: 20, including DEKDEKEN SARAH KILONGAN in the Philippines
        • The 5th International Conference on State Violence and Trauma: 100 persons, including ?Miryam Nainggolan in Indonesia?
        • Korean Village Community Conference: 200 participants, including Shahed Kayes in Bangladesh
        • Annual Meeting for Democratic Activists : 17 including An Sung Un, Vice President of the Busan Democratic Movement Memorial Association?

2016

  • Theme : State Violence and Historical Distortion
  • Keynote Speaker : Xanana Gusmao (Former President of Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste)
    • Partciaipants : 350 participants from 25 countries ?
    • A memorial service for Mr. Hinzpeter (from 1pm to 2pm)
      • A memorial service for Jurgen Hinzpeter was held at the May 18 Old Cemetery. He covered the May 18 in 1980 as a foreign journalist, spread the news globally and also is known as "a witness with blue eyes". The memorial service was attended by his wife and domestic and foreign figures. His wife said at the memorial that Thank for her husband’s wish to be buried at the burial site in Mangwol-dong, Gwangju, where the people who lost their lives in the fight for the May 18 Democratic Movement in 1980. She is glad to have her husband’s resting place in a historic place. ? The participants sang “Marching for our Beloved “to honor the memory of the deceased who left with the spirit of May.?
    • SDMA(Solidarity for Democratization Movement in Asia) Session
      • In this session, participants shared each country's examples under the theme of "Regression of Democracy in Asia". On the first day, they had a discussion on "how to stop regression of democracy". Followed by the opening day, participants shared their experiences with a focus on strategies and supporting tools for human rights activists at risk. During this session, its participants acknowledged that they are under similar contexts.
    • SFSJ(Solidarity for Social Justice) Session
      • Oftentimes judicial institutions are rather obstacles, not helpful tools to achieve social justice. In this sense, a great many human rights activists from all over Asia shared their own country's examples on how human rights activism and democracy are at risk under the name of judicial system and the rule of law. Furthermore, they discussed how to reform the judicial system, improve human rights situations, and actually bring democracy.
    • The May Education Session
      • It took time to examine the current situation of education in May and introduce the ‘May Eduction principles’ and ‘projected Materials’ developed for Eduction in May.?
    • Special Lecture delivered by Xanana Gusmao (Former President of Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste)?
      • On the 16th, the first laureate of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and former President of Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste delivered a special lecture on human rights situation in East Timor and other countries.
    • Trauma Session
      • This session, under the theme of ‘Torture, rehabilitation of national violence survivors and social justice, emphasized that psychological and human rights approaches should be carried out simultaneously in order to heal the trauma of torture state violent survivors. Participants also had the opportunity to share healing cases and experiences from around the world and examine citizens’ social responsibilities. ?
    • Overseas Historical Material Donation Session
      • The May 18 Memorial Foundation continues to collect historical materials on the May 18 Democratic Movement and receive material donations from activists or organizations abroad. Thus, the May 18 Memorial Foundation had a session for donators to deliver a message of deep appreciation.
    • Asia Grassroots Support Session?
      • The May 18 Memorial Foundation has been supporting grassroots human rights activism and organizations on domestic and international level since the early days of the Foundation. Through this session, the May 18 Memorial Foundation tried to share the activities of partner organizations. The activities and advocacy strategies of partner organizations were introduced during this session.

2015

  • Theme : Solidarity for Social Justice
  • Keynote Speaker : Latifa Anum Siregar (Indonesia)
    • Participants : 360 persons (240 domestic participants, 120 international participants)
    • Key Participants
      • ADN-Asia Democracy Workshop : 10 persons from Asian Democracy Network including Poengky Indarti, and 50 citizens
      • SDMA-Asia Democracy Workshop: 10 persons from Solidarity for Democratization Movement in Asia including John Liu, and 50 citizens?
      • The 70th anniversary of termination of war, the meaning of liberation from colonial rule, and how to inherit the May 18 spirit : 90 participants
      • Solidarity for Social Justice Workshop: 40 persons including Muhammad Imran Afridi ?

2014

  • Theme : Civil Society's Responsibility for Restoration of Democracy and Justice
  • Keynote Speaker : Adilur Raman Khan (Bangladesh)
    • Participants : 350 persons (250 domestic participants, 100 international participants)
    • Key Participants : 35 persons from SDMA workshop, 13 persons from Solidarity for Democratization Movement, 60 persons from International Workshop on State Violence and its Trauma, 15 persons from East Asian Democracy, Human Rights, and Peace Network, students from MAINS program, 20 persons from Amnesty International Korea Branch, 60 persons from Workshop on Correcting Historical Distortion, and 150 citizens
    • Contents of each workshop
      • SDMA Workshop-Asian Democracy Workshop
        • International regimes to approach election process and human rights situation in Asia?
        • Evaluation on recent election situations in Asia and how international standard was applied for them
        • Significant human rights violation during the election process in Asia?
        • Strengthening tools to monitor and evaluate election process.?
      • International Workshop on State Violence and its Trauma
        • How state violence torture appeared how revised forms of state violence and torture appear in current democratic society.?
        • The role of civil society to prevent state violence and torture and how to pave the way for social justice and community restoration
        • Discuss the restoration of responsibility and justice through the cases of Argentina and Trukey, which have experienced or are currently experiencing similar experiences in korean society.?
      • Workshop on correcting historical distortion
        • Korean right wing's modern history distortion, what do they dream?
        • Japanese right wing's attacks on history and history conflicts in East Asia
        • The struggles for historical reckoning in Korea and struggles towards public memory
        • Modern history in textbook and democracy education
      • 2014 Annual Meeting for East Asian Democracy, Human Rights, and Peace Network?
        • It is an annual conference of East Asia’s Democracy, Human Rights and Peace Network, launched through the Gwangju Asia Forum in 2012, to share the contents of activities among network organizations and seek to boost the network and strengthen solidarity each other.?
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