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The Gwangju Asia Forum 2019
Date : 2019-05-29     Hit : 109

The Gwangju Asia Forum 2019

 

Last May 17-20, 2019, The May 18 Memorial Foundation hosted a successful annual event, the Gwangju Asia Forum under the theme of “Genocide and Refugees“: State Violence and State Responsibility to Protect its People to mark the 39th anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Movement.

 

The 2019 GPHR Committee selected Ms. Joanna K. Carino of the Philippines, a life of human rights and democracy activist. Also, Dialiata Choir in Indonesia, won the GPHR Special Prize for its activism of reconciliation and healing through its music. 

 

TheGwangju Asia Forum is a forum for exchanging and networking with democracy andhuman rights activists in Asia. It is a platform for discussing about Asia’shuman rights, peace and democracy and sharing alternative ideas of making abetter future. 

 

 During the opening speech the Chairperson of 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 themes, the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and other scholar 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 tranny in Korea and now its truth is spreading 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 moved and outspreading various conflicts like South Sudan civil war, Iraq, Syrian civil war and conflict in Yemen that is triggering refugees in the world. These refugees forced to leave their countries due to violence, persecution, war and conflict. However, the journey of taking refuge and recognition as a refugee is also known as 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 reveals 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 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, 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.

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