|English News Letter: The May 18 Memorial Foundation (May -June 2019)|
|Date : 2019-06-12 Hit : 185|
39th Anniversary of Gwangju Uprising: The Commemoration the May 18 Democratization Movement of Gwangju
The Gwangju Democratic Uprising of the May 1980 is known as a cornerstone of the democratic resistance in the Republic of Korea and it shows the actual path to modern democracy of Korea. The sacrifices of the martyrs of May 18 is now flourishing and spreading their grins of democratization, human rights and peacebuilding all around the world. The May 18 Memorial Foundation is serving the spirit of the May 18 vigorously and spreading its fruits through Gwangju Asia Forum and Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in South Korea and around the globe.
In 18th May 2019, The May 18 Memorial Foundation organized the 39th anniversary of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising in Gwangju, Republic of Korea. The anniversary was held into two main events the Gwangju Asia Forum and Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 518 Memorial Cultural Hall, from 17th May to 20th May 2019. This year Gwangju Asia Forum main theme was “Genocide and Refugees: State Violence and State Responsibility to protect its people”. The Forum was attended by numerous human rights activists, trade unionists, local government officials and scholars, students from the Republic of Korea, Asia and Europe.
During the opening speech the Chairperson of the May 18 Memorial Foundation, Mr Lee Cheolwoo stated that “the May 18 Memorial Foundation will keep working for sharing the experience and value of Gwangju, that is the development of democracy, and promoting human rights”. Further, he added that the We don’t want to forget the helping hands and warm-hearted people who supported Gwangju when it was isolated under military dictatorship in 1980. In acceptance speech conveyed by Mr Jonnak.Carion and he stated that “the Human Rights makes us human. With every violation of human rights, our humanity is diminished. The human spirit can take only so much oppression, however, before resistance develops. Repression breeds resistance. To stand up for human rights, to resist tyranny, and to rebel against an oppressive system is justified.”
The Gwangju Asia Forum: Theme of Genocide
During the two days’ workshop of the 2019 Gwangju Asia Forum, under the main theme, the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and other scholar was held a separate workshop on Genocide and Refugees. In the workshop, Professor Yanhee Lee stated that unfortunately, since before and after the adaptation of the international Genocide Convention, the world had witnessed many more genocides. The most notable genocide would be the Holocaust, then Bangladesh, followed by Cambodia “killing fields”, Rwanda, Bosnia’s Genocide at Srebrenica, East Timor, Darfur, and Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka, and the current genocide occurring in Myanmar”. In addition under the main themes there were many other subthemes session were held parallels like Responsibility for the May 18 Massacre and Truth Finding- The Incomplete Process; under this session Ahan Byung-ook president of the Academy of Korean Studies stated that “Unjustifiable power always tries to maintain their privilege by conspiracy and manoeuvring and these forces usually mala fide most of the democratic movements as anti-state actions and these powers always stand with tyranny. However, the sacrifices of Gwangju citizen on May 18 uprising witnessed that it had eliminated the tyranny in Korea and now its truth is spreading the May 18 Spirit of democratization, justice, and protection of rights all around the world.
Overview of Refugees Situation in Asia
The current world has terribly outspreading various conflicts like South Sudan civil war, Iraq, Syrian civil war and conflict in Yemen that is triggering increase of refugees population in the world. These refugees forced to leave their countries due to violence, persecution,conflict and war. However, the journey of taking refuge and recognition as a refugee is the hardest part of refugees struggle. According to Waritsara Rungthong from Thailand shared that Thailand is not a signatory to 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol but it have been providing assistance to refugees for many years on moral and humanitarian reason. According to 2019 United High Commissioner for Refugees, the report said that around 96,802 refugees are living in temporary shelters along the Thai-Myanmar border. Further, there is a large number of refugees are coming from Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Syria, Palestine, Yemen and Iraq but there is no exact number is present about them. In Asia, only a few countries have developed national refugees laws like South Korea but others are still overlooking this serious issue. Mr Lewis from APRRN shared that currently, refugees are facing prejudice, abhorrence, barbarity and disaffirmation from all around the world. Therefore, he urged that it is highly important that civilize nation should come forward and protect the rights of refugees as per international refugees laws so refugees may enjoy the fundamental rights and live peacefully.
Gwangju Prize for Human Rights
From 2011, the May 18 Memorial Foundation is awarding the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to those extraordinary individuals, groups and institutions in Korea and all around the world, who have done remarkable sacrifices, struggle for the protection of human rights, democratization, justice and peacebuilding struggle in their countries. The objectives of this the award is to promote the Spirit of the May 18 Democratization Movement through that the community of Gwangju resisted against the brutal regime of General Chun for democracy and human rights in 1980. This award honour and recognizes the exemplary efforts of those individuals and organizations who are aspiring to the restoration of democracy, justice and human rights in their respective countries. In 2019, a Filipina human rights defender and activist, Ms Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño has been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to the acknowledgement of her great efforts and struggle for protecting rights of indigenous communities in Philippine. She is known as a strong symbol of resistance against torture and indigenous human rights activist. Ms Joanna is among the 600 individuals who were listed in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) so-called terror list, which seeks to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations. She together with other activists who were included in the list, fought for the removal of their names and in January this year, the DOJ has acted by finally removing the names of scores of activists and human rights defenders in the Cordillera region.
Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Special Award
Moreover, the May 18 Memorial Foundation also awards Special Award Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to The Dialita Choir, a group of survivors of the 1965 tragedy in Indonesia. The group has been honoured with "2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Special Award" for showing the path to reconciliation and healing through music. This special Prize is for those who work for the improvement of human rights by means of journalism, art, culture and literature. The Special Prize is provided once every two years.
Overall the May 18 Memorial Foundation provides the active platform of Gwangju Asia Forum to hundreds of human rights defenders from all around the world to discuss the current dismaying human rights issues like Genocide and Refugees: State Violence and State Responsibility to protect its people and strive to develop strong advocacy approach to overcome such very issues. Further, it also acknowledges the extraordinary efforts and skirmish of human rights defenders from all over the world and honouring them with the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Finally, the Gwangju Asia Forum ends with the joint declaration from the organizers that states and called the United Nation and the world that to provide protection to refugees, end of genocide and reveal the truth about the May 18 massacre in 1980 by the military junta in Gwangju, Republic of Korea.
The May 18 Spirit: Defending and Sharing the May 18 Spirit with Art
The paintings are the art of life. That is an artistic way to express his/her feelings, anger and sharing the spirit to their viewers about any particular events. It is worthy to see that Korean artists are using their Art to transferring and sharing the May 18 Spirit to their future generation of the Gwangju and Korea. Recently, the May 18 Memorial Foundation has organized art gallery that consists of drawings, sketches and cartoons movies, testimonies for children in the 518 Art Gallery, at Gwangju, Republic of Korea.
The artist shows her art through various sketches about the struggle of the May 18Gwangju Democratization Movement of 1980. The sketches are simple, abhorrence, cartoons, drawings, and pictures for the children. The massage of these sketches are very simple for children, so they could understand by the children about the spirit of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement. The message of the artist is very clear that whenever tyranny comes and take over power it uses violence against innocent citizens who stands for their rights, and aspiration of democratization. The way the artist shows the guns and soldiers with guns with nonviolent. Many sketches show that soldiers are using their weapons against common citizens and spreading violence against those who are marching for human rights and democratization.
The May 18 Spirit means that sharing the message and solidarity with those human rights activists and defenders who are struggling about the protection and promotion of human rights, democratization and peacebuilding in their respective countries and worldwide. Moreover, another message of the May 18 Spirit is that we should not forget our past and struggle of our heroes about our future generation. As George Santayana famously stated that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Therefore, the May 18 Memorial Foundation is connecting the past with the future. The Foundation is sharing the brutal past and great struggle of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement through artist format with their future generation. Consequently, the future generation could learn from their past of May 18 Gwangju Democratic Movement, understand the sacrifices of their heroes who martyred for their future and humanizing them with the May 18 Spirit, so the past should not be repeated. Let’s us spread the May 18 Spirit with Art so we all defeat our tyranny in our respective countries who are waiting, to ambush our human rights, democratization and peace and lets stand with the May 18 Spirit.
The Truth of May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising is Hunting the Tyranny
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is said Winston Churchill. Now the May 18 Democratic truth is incontrovertible and it is appearing every day and constantly defeating their adversaries.
39 years has passed since the May 18, 1980, Gwangju Democratic Uprising but each years many witnesses from Korea and people from all over the world have come forward to record their testimonies about the truth of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising.
These peoples are trustworthy who are coming forward from foreign investigation journalists, religious missionaries and peace crop officials who were there to do their duties and they were shocked by the brutality of the military regime of General Chun. These peoples are coming from all parts of the world to share their parts of stories and the truth about the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprisings; these individuals doing this without greed, and personal need for gain and fame. But they all want to share their part of the truth so, they feel satisfaction, and inner peace and feel that justice should be done with the victims of the May 18 Uprising.
These peoples are like Late Journalist Jürgen Hinzpeter, who was first to reveal the news of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising and massacre by the military regime of General Chun in the German media.
Similarly, in 2019, an American epidemiologist and Ex Peace member Doctor Paul Courtright who witnessed of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising returned to Gwangju to disclosed his part of the truth about the violence, and brutality of the Chun regime.
Paul Courtright, member of the 48th Peace group of South Korea lived from1979-80 in a small village that was fighting a fierce battle against the dangerous disease leprosy. The village was located 15 KM south of Gwangju. However, currently the village exists no more and now the large factory is escalated in this village. His visit to the area was bittersweet. “The young people that I never knew got on with their lives. I hope the elderly live comfortably”.
The May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising story is full of sacrifices, courage, and unity. But due to the military regimes malice and hostility with democracy and human rights; regime makes many distortions and false propaganda against the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising that took place is now ending and the truth is appearing.
Courtright recalled his memory and shared that buses were transiting full of students and common citizens. And they were calling out Free Kim Dae Jung and moving to Gwangju to show their full solidarity with the citizens of Gwangju. Everybody was on the streets and supporting people demonstrating against the military regime of General Chun.
He shared that the people in my town were neither students nor agitators but they were common citizens and who peacefully marching and stood for their rights and democratization in Korea.