|Gwangju Asia Forum 2019 Calls for the International Community to Stand Against Genocide and Protect Refugees|
|Date : 2019-07-22 Hit : 115|
On May 17, 2019, prominenthuman rights defenders, students, academicians from all the world and people ofGwangju gathered to discuss significant human rights issues of the world. The purposeof the gathering was to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the pro-democracysocial movement of 1980 in Gwangju. The participants unanimously shared theGwangju Declaration, which emphasized "When will Massacre and ExclusionEnd? Stop denying the May 18 Democratic Uprising and the hatred againstRefugees".
The fundamental idea of the GwangjuDeclaration was to highlight and discuss recent human rights challenges aboutgenocide, refugees, and hate remarks against the May 18 Gwangju DemocraticUprising and call for the international community to resolve such serious humanrights issues.
The May 18 DemocraticUprising is known as a milestone of South Koreas democratization movements andmodern democracy. Besides, it has made significant impact on other countries democraticstruggles in Asia. However, even though the Special Act on Discovering theTruth of the May 18 Democratic Uprising has been approved by the NationalAssembly of Korea, a committee has yet to be established.
It is because the oppositionparty has nominated persons who deny the May 18 Uprising. However, the hateremarks by a member of a political party are not only hurting the May 18sacrifices but is also causing division in the nation. Therefore, human rightsdefenders, academics, and people of Gwangju stated in the Declaration "Stopdenying and attacking the May 18 Democratic Uprising. Denying history withoutclear evidence and attacking victims of state violence is an act of whitewashingthe genocide. What we need to do now is to start the truth-finding projectwhich has been delayed for 39 years. For truth-finding, a special investigationcommittee should be established as soon as possible".
Besides, to continue theinterrupted history correction process in Korea, a Framework Act for Truth,Reconciliation, and History correction should be passed. Facing the past is auniversal agenda, especially in a country that experienced an authoritarianregime. And the revision of history should not be established based onpolitical or ideological motives.
It should focus ontruth-finding, recovering victims rights, preventing future human rightsviolation, and constructing social harmony in Korea.
Presently, the modern worldis facing various armed conflicts that has triggered around 68 million peoplesdisplacement, and among them, approximately 7.7 million peoples are living inAsia. In Asia, about 3.5 million are refugees, 1.9 million are internallydisplaced, and 1.4 millions are stateless. Asia produces shelters for refugees,including Rohingya refugees, who are fleeing from a tragic and violent campaignof genocide. These refugees in Asia are not sufficiently protected. However,they are not recognised as rights-holders. They are being detained, deported,and are struggling to survive outside the protection of legal safeguard andpublic support. Therefore, the Gwangju Asia Forum called to protect and assertedthe following recommendation about the protection of refugees.
First, that all Governmentsmust ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its1967 Protocol.
Secondly, governments whoalready ratified that refugee convention should amend or enact domestic laws tobring refugee protection mechanisms.
Thirdly, all governmentsshould develop a refugee status determination procedures followinginternational human rights norms.
Finally, all governmentsmust implement laws and policies to prevent hatred and discrimination againstrefugees through instruments such as comprehensive anti-discrimination laws andpractical measures for education against hate and bigotry.
Moreover, civil societyorganisations should give importance to the voices of refugees in their advocacyefforts who are not passive subjects but are primary stakeholders of refugeesissues in the world.
The Gwangju Asia Forum launchedits Declaration to mark the 39th commemoration of the May 18 Uprising andthousands of the peoples, including the survivors and the victims families,thronged the May 18 National Cemetery in Gwangju. The participants shared theirgrief and anger against the then military dictatorship. The people of Gwangjudeclared that they will never surrender to any tyrant and will keep promotingthe May 18 Spirit in Korea and all around the world.
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