Archive for April, 2006


Two women activists shall receive this year’s Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Malalai Joya is a 28-year old Afghan activist and parliamentarian who rose to fame when, as an elected delegate to the Constitutional Loya Jirga, she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlord. Since then she has survived four assassination attempts. Malalai Joya’s work as an activist began at age fourteen in her hometown Farah where she set up an NGO to respond to the needs of women neglected and oppressed under Taliban control. Angkhana Neelaphaijit is the wife of Somchai Neelapajit, a prominent lawyer and human rights defender in Thailand who disappeared in 2004. Since then, Angkhana has been unrelenting in her efforts to obtain justice, unsparing in her criticism of government authorities, and has taken the lead role as an articulate and courageous spokesperson for the families of disappeared persons in Thailand.

Seoul, April 28, 2006 – Two women activists shall receive this year’s Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. They are Malalai Joya from Afghanistan and Angkhana Neelaphaijit from Thailand.

Malalai Joya is a 27 year old Member of the Afghan Parliament. She was elected to the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga in September 2005, as a representative of Farah Province. Malalai won the second highest number of votes in the province.

Malalai Joya rose to fame in December 2003 when, as an elected delegate to the Constitutional Loya Jirga, she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords. Since then she has survived four assassination attempts, and travels in Afghanistan under a burqa and with armed guards.

She is the daughter of a former medical student who was wounded while fighting against the Soviet Union (which invaded and occupied Afganistan from 1979 – 1989). Malalai was 4 years old when her family fled Afghanistan in 1982 to the refugee camps of Iran and then Pakistan. She finished her education in Pakistan and began teaching literacy courses to other women at age 19. After the Soviets left, Malalai Joya returned to Afghanistan in 1998 during the Taliban’s reign. During that time she established an orphanage and health clinic, and was soon a vocal opponent of the Taliban.

Malalai Joya heads the non-governmental group, “Organisation of Promoting Afghan Women’s Capabilities” (OPAWC). She is married to a Kabul-based student of agriculture and has six sisters and three brothers.

Angkhana Neelaphaijit is the wife of Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, who was abducted by the police on 12 March 2004. At the time, Somchai was defending clients who had accused the police of torture. His body has never been found. Angkhana has been at the forefront of the campaign to get justice for his disappearance. In January 2006, one police officer was sentenced to three years in jail, but his accomplices and the masterminds of the crime have never been identified. She has received death threats because of her continued work. She has met UN officials both in Thailand and abroad to pursue the case. On International Women’s Day 2006 she was given an award by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand as an “outstanding woman human rights defender”. On 11 March 2006 she received the 2nd Asian Human Rights Defender Award of the AHRC on behalf of her husband, which was also given in recognition of her own work since his disappearance two years ago. Angkhana is now an inspiration to large numbers of people in Thailand, as well as internationally. She is supported in her work by her five children.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is an award given to individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work. The award is given by the Gwangju people in the spirit of solidarity and gratitude from those whom they have received help in their struggle for democratization and search for truth. Previous winners have included: Xanana Gusmao (2000); : Basil Fernando(2001); Korean Association of bereaved families for democracy (2002): Dandeniya Gamage Jayanthi or Monument for the disappeared·Sri Lanka (2003): Aung San Suu Kyi(2004); and Ms. Wardah Hafidz (2005).

This year’s search received nominees from ten countries. It’s the first time for two winners to share the award. Five of the eight awardees of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award since 2000 were women.



Pandayan para sa Sosyalistang Pilipinas (PANDAYAN)
Room 207, Center for Community Services Building,
Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University,
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Tel. 4265657, 09278775810, 09209066618
Contact: Jose Maria Dimaandal, Elaine Teope
17 April 2006

Pandayan condemns the murder of one of our members in Negros Occidental, Rico Adeva who was killed in front of his wife. It is unfortunate that Rico, an organizer of the Task Force Mapalad, became another statistic in the on-going campaign of summary executions against activists around the country.

It is no secret that violence related to agrarian reform has been happening in rural communities in Negros and around the country. Rico’s death looks like another incident of muzzling the efforts of agrarian reform advocates to distribute land to the powerless and hungry Filipino farmers. This demonstrates the failure of the government to act decisively on the issue of agrarian reform. It is a testament to its pathetic implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Moreover, this cowardly act of killing a defenseless NGO worker and agrarian reform activist also highlights the inefficiency of the Arroyo government to deal with people instigating these attacks against progressive elements of our society. It shows that her administration is really no different from Marcos’ repressive and brutal regime. It is getting to be really difficult for NGO workers and activists to continue their work under this climate of fear.

We ask the president: is the practice of murder now a public policy? If President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo truly values the sanctity of human life she should now put the brakes to these senseless killings. The culture of impunity must stop now.

Pandayan calls on the Filipino people and the international community to break their silence on the Arroyo administration’s grotesque human rights record. We must act now before it is too late. Public apathy will only encourages more killings.

Finally, Pandayan salutes Rico Adeva. We will continue his work in upholding the rights of the millions of Filipino peasants nationwide. We pledge to continue to pursue the ideals of freedom, democracy and justice.###

Summer Intensive Peace Building & Reconciliation Training Program, May 3 to 14, 2006

Applicatn Deadlne Extnded
1st Annual Peacebuilding & Reconciliation Program (APRP) Launched!

A summer intensive peacebuilding and reconciliation training program has been set for May 3 to 14 this year. It will be held at the cool and quite surroundings of the La Salette Shrine in Silang, which is 20 minutes before reaching Tagaytay on Aguinaldo highway. Funded mainly by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Program and the German International Capacity-building organization (InWEnt), known international and local co-trainers and resource persons will conduct simultaneous 5-day modules on various aspects of peace work, alternative dispute resolution, mediation, negotiation, active nonviolence, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Hildegard Goss-Mayr, the Austrian President Emeritus of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) leads one of the modules. She, together with her late husband Jean Goss, was a catalyst to the 1986 Nonviolent People Power Revolution, and she may be returning here for the last time. Other distinguished trainers include Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD, Bishop Edgardo Juanich, DD, Wendy Kroeker and Jonathan Rudy of the Mennonite Central Committee, Susan May Granada of the Nonviolent Peaceforce – Sri Lanka Field Team, Pete Hämmerle of the Austrian Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Alim Elias Macarandas of the Bishop-Ulama Conference, Annabelle Abaya of the GRP Peace Panel for talks with the CNN, Marites Guingona-Africa of the United Religions Initiative and Peacemakers’ Circle, Cesar Villanueva of Pax Christi Pilipinas, Rebecca Capulong of the Siliman University Peace Resource Center, Mike Alar of PIDO-OPAPP, Marides Virola-Gardiola and Maria Lourdes Aseneta, both of whom are private consultants and members of Brahma Kumaris.

A consultation process to gather the experiences and best practices in peacebuilding, conflict transformation and reconciliation was a deliberate effort to make the concept of an Annual Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Program (APRP) well attuned to the needs of peacebuilders who participated in the process. Enhanced by the encouragement of mentors from the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in conducting annual intensive training programs, this program called the 1st APRP this May 2006 has become a reality.

While conflict transformation and peacebuilding efforts have achieved significant strides in Mindanao, it is apparent that the same efforts must be taken to address the issues of the sixty-year armed insurgency elsewhere in the Philippines. The Mindanao peace efforts have succeeded in keeping armed hostilities in check in major fronts through the nurturing of a strong grassroots constituency for peacebuilding while there is much to be desired elsewhere. It has become evident that addressing the complexity of violent social change (insurgency) armed conflict is crucial in order to spur positive, transformative and constructive efforts that could bring just and lasting peace, human security and sustainable development in our communities and for the entire nation.

Transforming armed conflict and unceasingly encouraging conflicting parties never to resort to arms, assassinations, illegal arrest & detention, dispersals and other forms of violence is only half the goal of this initiative. We must believe that lasting solutions can only be achieved through serious negotiations, one careful step at a time and protracted over a number of years. We continue to explore nonviolent alternatives to achieve what is for the common good in the spirit of conciliation and openness to acknowledge the goodness in every human being. In the end, we continue to hope that we learn to respect and appreciate the many different perspectives of one reality and discover how we can work together each step of the way.

For more information, please write to or Deadline for applications is extended to April 18, 2006.

Chito Generoso
APRP Program Co-Director
Ellis Luciano
Institute of Reconciliation
APRP Program Office
1180 C. Roces Ave., SAV, Makati City 1202 Philippines

Fr. Jose Nacu, MS
APRP Co-Director
Institute of Reconciliation

Purificacion Obra
APRP Co-director
Asso. Dean
Graduate School,
University of La Salette

Gwangju International Peace Camp 2006

(Note: This is the working/tentative design and program that is still being updated by The May 18 Memorial Foundation Working Committee)

Conflict and Peace Making by NGOs
May 16-18, 2006, 518 Cultural Hall, Gwangju City, Republic of Korea

A. PROGRAM : Sharing Experience form Each Country

To get a sufficient understanding of conflict situation in each country and peace process that has been made there.


In this section, each country representatives (2 persons per country) will present the factual situation in their own country. The presentation should be based on the paper they made (which followed the guidance from the organizer). Thus, their main role is to share the FACTS in their own country.
Each country has 20’ to deliver the presentation (10’ per person)

An expert will give a comment on the presentation of each country’s representatives. The expert will help the forum to link up all those different facts in each country into a systematic way of thinking.
The expert has 15’ to give a comment.

Thereafter, an open forum will be started. It will let the audience make some clarifications from the speakers and the expert in order to have a sufficient understanding.
Time remaining for the open forum is 1:15’ (until lunch time)

A moderator will guide the flow the forum and keep it in its track. The focus of this session is FACTS in each case.

Factual description of conflict and peace process in each country of:
1. East Timor
2. Aceh
3. Sri Lanka
4. Thailand
5. Philippines
6. Nepal

B. PROGRAM: Discussion on the Different Experiences of Conflict and Peace Process

To elaborate the pattern of conflict and effective method of peacemaking, considering the different situation/ stages in each country.

Two experts appear in the previous session will be the panelists in this session. They will present the paper the made, as it is requested earlier by the organizer.
Each expert has 15’ to deliver the presentation.

Thereafter, an open forum will be started. The experts will act as resource persons to help the forum to elaborate the different stage of conflict, various methods of peacemaking and how to deal with it. Finally it will lead to the role of NGOs in dealing with those issues.
Time remaining for the open forum is 2 hours (until dinner time)

A moderator will guide the flow the forum and keep it in its track. The focus of this session is CONCEPT of CONFLICT and PEACE PROCESS; and ROLE of NGOs

Sufficient understanding of different kinds of conflict and various methods of peacemaking.

Common understanding of the role of NGOs in such situation.

C. PROGRAM: Plenary Session

To elaborate the role of NGOs in supporting and accelerating successful peace process.

Based on the factual situation discussed earlier, the participants will discuss their role as the actors involved in the conflict and peace process and explore the possibility to have a common statement or agenda/united action.

The participants will formulate a common resolution to be declared.

Participants will point one of them to guide the flow of the discussion (acted as a moderator).

Time allocated to discuss this matter is 3 hours (until lunch time)

The forum comes up with a declaration.
The declaration should include:
– statement on the origin of conflict
– statement on peace
statement on NGOs’ role in supporting and accelerating peace process.

D. PROGRAM: Keynote Speech
To give a review of the matters have been discussed with its result and a closing remarks of the event.

A Korean public figure who is working on conflict and peace issue will deliver a speech. He will talk about the issue in Asia and South Korea as well.


E. PROGRAM: Declaration

To announce to the public the result of the peace camp.

Press conference.

Media coverage


Military Radicalism in Venezuela: Lessons for the Philippines

By Walden Bello*

In the light of the obvious turmoil and discontent within the Philippine Armed Forces, many questions and concerns have been circulating. One very important issue is: would military rebels merely serve as an instrument to get rid of the corrupt and illegitimate Arroyo regime, or would they be capable of doing something more, that is, lead or be part of a coalition for progressive social transformation?

To get a grip on this question, it might be useful to look at the prime example of military radicalism today, the Venezuelan Army, and try to make some comparisons between its experience and that of the Philippine military.

“An Army of the People”

That something interesting and unusual is taking place in Venezuela first really struck me when, in response to a sarcastic comment about an anti-war meeting of the 2006 World Social Forum taking place in an Air Force base, a member of the audience rose and, in the best pedagogical manner, told us foreigners, “Look, what we have here in Venezuela is not a regular army but an army of the people.”

Venezuela is undergoing, if not a revolution, a process of radical change, and the military is right in the center of it. How could this been happening, many skeptics ask, when the military, especially in Latin America, is usually an agent of the status quo? Others, less skeptical, ask: Is Venezuela the exception, or is it the wave of the future?

Many explanations have been advanced for the behavior of Venezuela’s military. Edgardo Lander, a noted Venezuelan political scientist, says that one reason could be that compared to other Latin American armies, there is a much higher proportion of “people of humble origins in the Venezuelan officer corps. “Unlike in many other Latin American countries, he contends, “the upper Classes have really looked at a military career with scorn here.”

Richard Gott, one of the leading authorities on the American left, adds another factor, the mingling of officers with civilians in the country’s educational system. “Beginning in the seventies, under a government program called the Andres Bello program, officers were sent to the universities in significant numbers, and there they rubbed elbows with other students
studying, say, economics or political science.”

This “immersion” in civilian life had fateful consequences. One, the officers were exposed to progressive ideas at a time that “the left dominated the universities.” Two, it resulted in a deeper integration of the officer corps with civilian society than in most other countries in Latin America.

Probably also critical, says Gott was that, for some reason, Venezuela appears to have sent far fewer officers than many other Latin American countries to the US Army-run School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, which is the main conduit of counterinsurgency training to the western hemisphere’s military forces.

Now, these conditions may have contributed to making the Venezuelan Army less reactionary than others in Latin America, but they do not explain why it would be one of the spearheads of what is today the most radical social transformation taking place in the hemisphere. Gott, Lander, and other Venezuela specialists concur in one thing: the absolutely central role of Hugo Chavez.

The Chavez Factor

Chavez is many things: a charismatic figure, a great orator, a man who plays local, regional, and global politics with skill and verve. He is also a man of the army, one who reveres the military as the institution that, under Simon Bolivar, liberated Venezuela and much of Latin America from Spain, and who has acted on the belief that it is destined to play a decisive role in Venezuela’s social transformation.

Chavez, according to his own account, joined the military because it would be a springboard for him to play professional baseball. But whatever his initial motivations, he came into the army at a time of great institutional flux. The army in the 1970’s was engaged in counter-guerrilla operations at the same time that its officers were being exposed to progressive ideas through the Andres Bello program at the university and many were being recruited by leftist groups into clandestine discussion groups.

Instead of becoming a baseball star, Chavez became a popular lecturer in history at Venezuela’s War College, while moving up the chain of command. When not performing his official duties, he was engaged in building a clandestine grouping of young, like-minded, idealistic officers called the “Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement.” Disillusioned with what they perceived to be a dysfunctional democratic system dominated by corrupt parties—Accion Democratica and Copei– that alternated in power, these Young Turks evolved From a study circle to a conspiracy that hatched ideas for a coup that would, in their view, inaugurate a period of national renewal.

As Richard Gott writes in his authoritative book Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, Chavez’ preparations were overtaken by the “Caracazo” of 1989, a social cataclysm triggered by a sharp rise in transportation prices owing to pressure from the International Monetary Fund. For about three days, thousands of urban poor from the ranchos or shantytowns on the mountainsides surrounding Caracas, descended on the city center and affluent neighborhoods to loot and riot in what was ill-disguised class warfare. The Caracazo seared itself in the minds of many young officers. Not only did it reveal to them how the vast majority of the population had become thoroughly disenchanted with the liberal democratic system. It also made many bitter that they were placed in the position of having to give orders to shoot hundreds of poor people to defend that system.

When Chavez was given command of a parachute regiment nearly three years later, he and his co-conspirators felt that the moment was ripe for their long-planned coup. The attempt failed, but it catapulted Chavez to fame in the eyes of many Venezuelans…and to notoriety in the eyes of the elite. Chavez appeared on national television to ask participating units to lay down their arms, and, according to Gott, that “one minute of air time, at a moment of personal disaster, converted him into someone perceived as the country’s potential savior.” Chavez took full responsibility for the failure of the coup but electrified the nation when he declared that “new possibilities will arise again.”

Chavez was imprisoned, and almost immediately after his release, began campaigning for the presidency. What he could not get by a coup, he was now determined to pursue by constitutional means. No longer in the military, he nevertheless kept in close touch with his fellow officers and with enlisted men, among whom he was tremendously popular. When he finally won the presidency by a large margin in 1998, it was not surprising that he recruited brother officers to head up or staff key government agencies. More important, Chavez gradually brought in the military to serve as a key institutional instrument for the change he was unleashing in the country. The massive disaster brought about by torrential rains in 1999 provided an opportunity for Chavez to deploy the military in its new role, with the army units mobilized to set up and man soup kitchens and build housing for thousands of refugees on army land. Then military civic action and engineering units were deployed to the new government’s program to set up “sustainable agro-industrial settlements” in different parts of the country. Military hospitals were also made available for the poor.

Transforming the Military: Problems and Opportunities

The involvement of the military in a program of radical change was not, however, regarded positively in all quarters of the army. Indeed, many generals resented the populist ex-colonel and, when the process accelerated, as Chavez moved to implement land reform and take direct control of the oil industry, these elements began to conspire with the newspaper owners, the elite, and the middle class to oust him by force.

After a series of violent confrontations between the Opposition and Chavistas in the streets of Caracas, a coup put into motion by a number of high ranking generals, including the head of the armed forces, the chief of the staff of the armed forces, and the commander of the army, succeeded in toppling Chavez on April 11, 2002. However, most of the officers with field commands And most junior officers either stayed loyal to Chavez or remained neutral, and when thousands of urban poor descended on Caracas to demand Chavez’ release, the loyalists launched a counter-coup, arrested the conspirators, and restored Chavez to power.

The coup attempt was a blessing in at least one way: it gave Chavez the opportunity to complete the transformation of the military. About 100 top generals and officers were cashiered for treason, with the key posts in the high command going to people loyal to Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. The purge probably deprived the US, which had supported the coup, of its key supporters within the Venezuelan military.

Chavez’ project, which he has now defined as a movement toward “socialism,” rests on the tremendous support he has among the urban and rural poor. However, the military is the only reliable organized institution he can count on to move things. The press is hostile to him. So is the Church hierarchy. The bureaucracy is slow and riddled with corruption. Political parties are discredited, with Chavez himself leading the attack against them and preferring to keep his supporters organized as a loose mass movement.

Given the centrality of the military as a reforming institution, Chavez has created an army of urban military auxiliaries or reservists to support the regular armed forces. Originally known as “Bolivarian Circles,” this reserve force, which is projected to eventually number one million, is becoming instrumental in the organization and delivery of social programs in the shantytowns. These auxiliaries also now participate, alongside the National Guard, in the expropriation of private land for the accelerated agrarian reform program.

Skepticism in Some Quarters

With its central role in the Bolivarian Revolution, many observers are asking the question: is the military up to it?

For Chavez, according to political analyst Lander, the military is reliable because it is not corrupt and is more efficient than other institutions in delivering results. Lander questions this. “I don’t think there is anything inherent in the military that somehow makes it less susceptible to corruption than other institutions.” As for military efficiency, this is, he says, a half-truth: “Yes, the military may be effective when deployed to solve immediate problems like building schoolhouses or clinics staffed by Cuban doctors. But it is not a long-term solution. You need to institutionalize these solutions, and that’s where this revolution is weak. You have a proliferation of ad hoc solutions that remain ad hoc.”

Yet there is no doubt that among Chavez and his generation of officers, there is a reforming zeal that will fuel the revolution for some time to come. It is a zeal borne out of a tremendous sense of frustration, one which Chavez expressed to Gott in an interview a few years ago: “Over many years the Venezuelan military were eunuchs: we were not allowed to speak; we had to look on in silence while we watched the disaster caused by corrupt and incompetent governments. Our senior officers were stealing, our troops were eating almost nothing, and we had to remain under tight discipline. But what kind of discipline is that? We were made complicit with the disaster.”

The Venezuelan and Philippine Militaries: Points of Comparison

The sentiments expressed by Chavez in the preceding paragraph would probably resonate with many junior officers in the Philippine military. Which brings us to the question: What are the lessons of the Venezuelan experience for the Philippines? More specifically, are there possibilities for a similar left-leaning socially progressive military to emerge in this country?

If the Venezuelan experience is any guide, the odds are against it.

First of all, unlike the Venezuelan military, the Philippine military does not have a revolutionary nationalist heritage. It is not a direct descendant of the Katipuneros and the Army of the Philippine Revolution. It was formed by the US, initially to act an auxiliary force to support US occupation troops, then to maintain public order during the colonial period, and finally to back up US forces fighting the Japanese during the Second World War. Since the granting of independence in 1946, the Philippine Armed Forces have maintained very close links to the US military via aid and training programs.

Second, the Philippine military has not had the equivalent of an Andres Bello program, where officers were systematically immersed in the civilian educational system and consistently exposed not only to the latest technical and managerial concepts but also to progressive ideas and movements. But even if such a program existed, the ideological hegemony of neoliberal economics in Philippine universities from the nineties till today would probably have nullified the positive effects of immersion.

Third, in Venezuela, officers had an ambivalent relationship with the political left, on the one hand, fighting them as guerrillas, on the other hand, absorbing their ideas and proposals for change. In the Philippines, in contrast, the military sees the New People’s Army, with which it has been struggling for nearly 30 years, as its enemy unto death, both institutionally and ideologically. Not surprisingly, while groups like the Reform the Armed Force Movement (RAM) or Magdalo have periodically emerged, their programs have had little social and national content, their agenda being merely to seize power and put the military in command of society in order to purge civilian politics of corruption. Class analysis, imperialism, land reform—these are concepts that most officers see as belonging to the paradigm of a rival military force.

Finally, if there is a military that is so thoroughly permeated by the dominant social relationships of civilian society, it is the Philippine military. From top to bottom, the military is enmeshed in patron-client relationships with local and national elites. Competing civilian elites have cultivated and manipulated their factions within the military. Even military reform groups have often ended up in unhealthy relationships of dependency with traditional politicians and economic elites. The godfather relationship between the traditional politician Juan Ponce Enrile and the military rebel Gringo Honasan, for instance, was probably the key factor that stood in the way of RAM becoming a truly autonomous and progressive force.

But history is anything if not open. The Philippine military may still be capable of yielding surprises. After all, an observer of the Venezuelan military circa the late eighties would probably have wagered that with its cadre of corrupt senior officers tied to the US military, that institution would remain a faithful instrument of the status quo in the coming years.


*Walden Bello is professor of sociology at the University of the
Philippines (Diliman) and executive director of the research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South based in Bangkok. He recently visited Venezuela.

source: From Business World, Feb. 28, 2006 and, Feb. 28, 2006

gpx sources:

CALL for Application for Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School 2006

Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School aims to contribute to the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia. Twenty (20) invitees from all over Asia and five (5) local Koreans who have been working for human rights and peace organizations in their own countries shall be given an opportunity to learn and experience the history and process of the development of human rights and democracy in South Korea.

Participants will be introduced to Korean history, the movements and struggle for democracy, including the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, both through theoretical and practical experiences such as seminars, discussions and field trips to the sites of democratization movements in Korea.

Basic Criteria

1) Applicant must not be more than 35 years of age occupying a mid-level position.

2) Must have more than 3 years NGO work experience (human rights, democracy and/or peace organizations).

3) Facilities for English language (Korean an advantage) and demonstrate capacity for active participation in discussions and cultural events.

4) Application is endorsed by his/her organization.

5) Must be sensitive to cultural conditions and traditions of Korea/Koreans and co-participants.

Application and Process of the Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School

1. Announcement and application forms will be released on February 2006 and the deadline for application will be on May 31, 2006. The final list of folk school participants will be announced on the month of August.

2. The folk school will be conducted for three weeks from September 4-22, 2006.

3. Applicants should fill-out the application form properly and submit via email to the foundation.

4. The May 18 Memorial Foundation – Education Committee, (composed of individuals from different organizations) is in-charge of selecting the final list of participants after a careful evaluation and assessment of applicants.

5. Guidelines of the Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School will be given to successful applicants.

Important Dates:

1. Period of event: September 4-22, 2006

2. Application deadline: May 31, 2006

Please download and fill out the application form found at the bottom of this article and email it to us: or

For information on the past folk schools visit:

GUIDE MANUAL -International Internship on Human Rights

This guide manual is an evolving document for The May 18 Memorial Foundation’s international interns on human rights. It is evolving since change is constant and development is inevitable in any organization and undertaking. This guide manual aims to serve as a source of information, guide and companion for interns.
This year, The May 18 Memorial Foundation had re-engineered its present structure. It has reorganized into 5 teams, namely: General Affairs, Educational Programme, Events and PR, Research and Documentation and International Cooperation. The foundation is coming up with new systems and policies to address its growing workforce.
International Internship Programme was introduced only in 2005, it is relatively new. Lessons from the previous experience were noted and effort was made to capture them into this Guide Manual.

1. Introduction to the May 18 Memorial Foundation

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization established on August 30, 1994. It was organized by surviving victims of the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, the victims’ families, and the citizens of Gwangju. The Foundation aims to commemorate and continue the spirit of struggle and solidarity of the May 18 Uprising, contribute to the peaceful reunification of Korea, and work towards peace and human rights throughout the world. Since its establishment, the Foundation has carried out numerous projects in varying fields, including organizing memorial events, establishing scholarships, fostering research, disseminating public information, publishing relevant materials, dispensing charity and welfare benefits, building international solidarity, and awarding the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

The Foundation gets funding from Gwangju citizens, sympathetic overseas Koreans, and from individuals who made sacrifice in the uprising and got indemnification from the government. It is being sustained by people who believe it’s important to keep the ideas and memories of the 1980 May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising alive and remembered.

2. The International Internship Programme

The International Internship Programme will strive to contribute to the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia by recruiting four interns from all over the world, who have been working for human rights and peace organizations in their own countries, and by giving them a chance to learn about and experience the history and process of the development of human rights and democracy in South Korea. Specifically the purpose and aim of the program are the following:

a. To improve International Solidarity
b. To promote Gwangju as Asia’s Hub for Human Rights Movement

3. Activities of the International Internship Programme 2006

The International Internship Program will introduce the interns to Korean history in general and in particular to the movements and struggle for democracy, including the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Both theoretical learning and practical experiences such as lectures, seminars, discussions, interviews and fieldtrips to the sites of democratization movements in Korea will be utilized.

The International Internship Programme will also require its interns to submit reports concerning the human rights situation in their home countries, as well as on the interns own experiences and work. These reports will be included in the “Reports on Human Rights of the Year” as a part of the rapidly expanding database for use by various human rights organizations inside and outside the Republic of Korea.

The interns will be assigned to the International Cooperation Team. They are expected to work as regular staff attending to day-to-day office business. The interns will help the preparatory work and implementation of different events; make presentations to schools when invited; and perform other tasks the Department will assign them to undertake.

Each intern will be asked to select a research topic, conduct the relevant research, and deliver a presentation at the end of their internship program.

4. Official Duties and Responsibilities

  • a) Interns are the representative of the organization. It is expected that interns will abide by the rules and policy of the organization.
  • b) Weekly Report and Meeting. Interns are required to submit their a weekly report of accomplishment and plan to be shared at the regular staff meeting held every Monday. (This may change since the number of staff had expanded). Refer to Appendix A.
  • c) Business Plan and Report. Interns who go on an official business should fill-out the business plan form. The business report form should be accomplished after the official business had been conducted. Refer to Appendix B.
  • d) Officers and Staff. It is a common practice for new staff to be introduced to the rest of the officers and staff. The foundation will provide interns with a business card they should have it exchanged with other staff when they are introduced.
  • e) Work at 518. Although interns will not be using time card they are required to report to the office from 9:00 AM – 6PM, Monday to Friday (unless there would be schedules that falls on a weekend). The foundation does not employ janitors so staff must report 10 minutes earlier to help other staff prepare or clean the office. Lunch break will be 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM.
  • f) Invitation to give talk. Interns will get invitation to give talk or presentation about their country’s history, culture, tradition, as well as issue on human rights, peace and democracy by schools and other groups or institutions.
  • g)Allowance. The Foundation will support each interns with an allowance of 600,000 won (approximately US$ 600) per month.
  • h)Termination of Internship. The Foundation has the prerogative to terminate an intern with due process. An erring intern who does not comply with this guide manual and the terms and policies set forth by the Foundation and its officials; commit insubordination will be terminated from the internship program accordingly.

5. Pre departure

  • a)Before you leave be sure that you have prepared yourself psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, and all other needed preparations for your stay here in Korea.
  • b)Learn some basic Korean words that will be handy when you talk or ask people about things. Politeness should always observe.
  • c)Passport and Visa. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 2 years. The foundation will help facilitate for you to get a 10-month Korean visa. The May 18 Memorial Foundation will contact the Korean consulates or embassies near the intern’s residence area in his/her home country. When applying for visa, attach the official document of invitation from the Foundation in your application form. Your have to pay for the processing of your own visa.
  • d)Air ticket. The May 18 Memorial Foundation will cover the costs of economy class round trip air ticket of interns (except those from the west).
  • e)Try to secure winter or warm clothes if it is cheaper to purchase in your country. Remember that Seoul (or Korea for that matter) is the 5th costliest city to live. There will be some hand me down clothes from the interns and the foundation for you.
  • f)Departure Checklist :

  • – Passport and Korean Visa
  • – Air-ticket
  • – Travel and Health Insurance
  • – A certain amount of cash in either South Korean won or US dollars for your travel to Gwangju
  • – Clothing appropriate to the four seasons and a business suit.
  • – Reports on activities of the interns’ organization (A4. 3~5 pages)
  • – Reports on your country’s human rights conditions and your involvements

6. Arrival in Korea

a) Incheon International Airport -Passport and Immigration Control. To receive official permission to enter the Republic of Korea you will need the following documents: (Do not forget to carry all these documents in your hand luggage!)

  • – Your valid international passport, containing your visa (if applicable)
  • – Your Gwangju International Internship Programme invitation letter
  • – Evidence that you intend to leave the Republic of Korea at the end of the program (normally your round air-ticket will suffice)

If you did not obtain your visa before your departure from your home country, the immigration officer at the airport may refuse your entry.

b) Customs. After passing through immigration, you will collect your luggage from the Baggage Claim area and proceed to the Customs area. If you have goods to declare, fill out a Customs Declaration form; if you have no goods to declare, you must still go through Customs and notify the Customs officer that you have nothing to declare.
c) Money Exchange. If you don’t have Korean won have your money changed in any of the money
exchange counter at the airport. Be sure to have at least 50,000.00 won exchanged to pay for your bus ticket and meal on the way. Have some coins as well to make a call to us before leaving the airport.
d) Make a call. Before you leave Incheon International Airport for Gwangju, please telephone and inform the May 18 Memorial Foundation of your arrival time and destination in Gwangju. Refer to above contact numbers. Volunteers from the Foundation will be on hand to welcome you at the bus station and escort you to your accommodations.

7) Journey to Gwangju

Different modes of transportation are available from Incheon International Airport to Gwangju, in Jeollanam-do Province. The express bus from Incheon International Airport to Gwangju Bus Terminal is highly recommended for your convenience. Please be advised there is another city in Korea also named Gwangju. Make sure you are going to the one in Jeollanam-do Province.

Bus Trip. Buses run directly from the Incheon International airport to the city of Gwangju. In the case that you take a bus to Gwangju from Incheon International Airport, you will need to have on hand approximately 35,000 Korean won (about US$35). The bus trip to Gwangju takes approximately four-and-a-half hours.

* For more detailed information on the arrival procedure, please refer to Incheon International Airport website:

You can get information on buses to Gwangju and purchase the bus ticket at the Transportation Information Counter on the arrival floor of the airport passenger terminal. After buying your ticket, proceed to Bus Stop No.8A for the bus to Gwangju. The map of the arrival floor of Incheon International Airport and the bus schedule from Incheon Airport to Gwangju Bus Terminal are below:

Domestic Flight. If you would like to fly to Gwangju, you must go to the nearby domestic airport Gimpo Airport. You can buy a bus ticket to the domestic airport at the Transportation Information Counter. It takes about 40 minutes to get to Gimpo Airport from Incheon International Airport by bus. The schedule for the bus to Gimpo Airport from Incheon International Airport is as follows:

8. Life in Gwangju

a) Dining, drinking, and singing culture. Koreans love to eat. The cityscape is peppered with restaurants, convenience stores, street vendors, etc. They normally drink alcohol when they eat their meals. After meals don’t be surprised to be invited to another bar or norae bang (Singing Room) for another round of drinking or singing and drinking.

b) Korean Class. Learning Korean language will be an advantage in your stay in Korea since English is not widely spoken. The foundation will provide a Korean teacher. The interns will be asked to share a minimum amount so as to encourage them to learn the language. The rest of the fees will be on the account of the Foundation.
Holidays. Korea celebrates different holidays like the Chuseok and Seollal. Some staff would invite interns to celebrate with them these events. Also, the office conducts its summer outing and other get together.

c) Accommodation Facilities. Two (2) female and two (2) male interns will separately share a single large room equipped with simple furnishings. The flat has a kitchen and a shower and toilet. The Korean electrical supply works on 220 volts, so if you bring any electrical equipment make sure it functions on this voltage range, or else bring a transformer.

Fees for flat rent, water, electricity and monthly telephone (cable TV/internet) subscription will be charged to the account of the foundation. Long distance or overseas calls will be charged to the account of interns. Use of phone card is advisable.

9. Weekend Activities

Gwangju, a bustling city of 1.4 million inhabitants, nestled at the foot of Mudeung Mountain (1,187m), boasts a number of interesting local attractions. Mudeung Mountain, which is usually snow-covered in winter, can be easily reached by public bus. It has hiking paths, cozy restaurants, and small temples dotting its slopes.

Near the city is a cultural park, home to the Gwangju National Museum with priceless historical and archaeological relics and the Gwangju City Folk Museum, which is the third largest city museum in Korea and is an excellent window into various aspects of Korean culture such as traditional Korean cuisine, time-honored Korean customs, folk games, and shamanistic rituals.

For those interested in art, the Gwangju Culture and Art Center, the Gwangju City Art Gallery and the inner-city’s “Art Street” can be visited. On Saturday mornings, a small antique market is held in the “Art Street” area.
With short bus trips, the Korean coast, several nearby islands and number of other cities can be reached in day trips from Gwangju. Korea has a very efficient and cost-effective bus transport system and the Gwangju Bus Terminal is a regional hub for the southwestern part of the country.

10. General Information

a) Weather

Korea has four distinct seasons and it is normally very cold and snowy in winter, from December to February. It is advised that interns bring warm clothing for their stay in Korea, as well as hiking shoes for field trips. During summer it is both warm and wet, there will be occasional rain showers.

b) Internet and Communication Facilities

Out of the work, one can easily find internet cafes, called “PC Bangs” in the streets of Gwangju City. Charges for computer use range from 500 to 1,000 won (0.45 ~ 0.90 US dollar) per hour. Use of telephone card is advisable both for home and public phone calls for overseas calls.

c) Using Public Transportation

Public buses run frequently in major routes of the city. Fare usually starts at 900 won that is paid upon entry at the front door of the bus. Use only exact amount since driver will not have change for bills over 1,000 won. The base taxi fare is 1,500 won.

d) Social Communities

The GIC. GIC was established by the Gwangju City Government and Gwangju Citizens Solidarity in 1999 as a model of governmental and NGO collaboration. Its mission is to provide foreigners with information and services, promoting an international exchange in the fields of culture and economy and fostering international awareness among Korean youth through active involvement in helping the international community of Gwangju and Jeolla-namdo. GIC’s services include public talks, Korean language and calligraphy classes, offers guided tours and publishes a monthly magazine among others. There are church groups, government officials and student English groups or clubs, etc.

e) Recreation and other Facilities

518 Memorial Park. The park is hilly with plenty of trees and ground to do picnic. It is an ideal place to stroll and jog. There’s a Pagoda on top of it that is a good place to view the cityscape. Located within the 518 Memorial Park is the Student Center with facilities such as restaurant, study area, swimming pool, basketball court, table tennis, badminton, ballroom dancing, etc. The center also offers lessons and courses on arts and sports.

Restaurants. Eating places could be found everywhere in Gwnagju City, be sure to speak in Korean if you want to order food otherwise dine with someone who could speak the language.

Cinemas. Movie houses could be found in Sangmudong area and downtown.

Saunas. Saunas have become a theme park for Korean families. After a good/nice bath families or couples would join together in common areas where different Sauna facilities and amenities could be enjoyed such as restaurant/snack bars, singing rooms, video rooms, PC rooms, sauna hot-cold rooms, etc.

Tourist Information Center. Refer to information kiosks widely available in strategic locations to get maps and information about parks, museums and other significant landmarks both in Gwangju City and other parts of Korea.

11. Miscellaneous Information : What was it like to be an intern

Frankly, before I came here, I almost knew nothing about Korea, especially on Gwangju Uprising. All I knew about Korea is that it has a strong labour movement, as it was frequently published in the media in my country, Indonesia.

Being an intern here in the May 18 Memorial Foundation gave me a lot of opportunities of learning about the democratization process in Korea. Since I worked for a victim-based organisation, what attracted my attention the most is the victim’s movements here in Korea as it will be an important lesson to be shared with Indonesian victim’s community.

Through this internship I was also able to interact with some people or groups working on some other issues beside those ‘victims things’, such as: labour, urban poor, housing rights, women, migrant worker, environment, lawyer, academe, youth, etc. They were not necessarily Korean people, but members of the international community as well, especially Asian. Those interactions had equipped me with such fruitful knowledge and network.

Besides the learning from my Korean experiences, I also had an opportunity to share Indonesia’s current issues. Like once, with the support from my co-interns and the staff of the foundation, we conducted a signature campaign to commemorate the 1st death anniversary of Munir, an Indonesian human rights activist who was murdered on September 8, 2004. We were able to gather about 800 signatures from the citizens of Gwangju City. The collected signatures were sent to Indonesia as a show of solidarity of Korean people for the Munir case.

Living here for some period of time has also led me to experience Korea’s cultural traditions that are new and sometimes quite strange for me. The language, the food, song, values, manners or attitude, work ethics, etc. were all invaluable parts of my total experience of Korea! Mixture of fun, happiness, sadness, excitement, disappointment, anger, and all of other kinds of feelings and emotions have collided inside of me. But I think it’s just common and natural. Above all, this internship has a special meaning for me personally :).

One thing that has impressed me is that the people here have a quite high respect for the sacrifices of the people in the past. I think this custom has influenced the process of reaffirming justice especially in case of dealing with the past human rights violation. And it has strengthened Korea as a nation.
Agnes Gurning (IKOHI, Indonesia)

I had a hard time for the first three months of my internship. Coming from an NGO culture, I found the culture of the foundation quite strange. Since we were pioneers we spent sometime trying to figure things out. For most pioneers a new endeavor is like trial and error. So I suggests in order to make the gap of expectations smaller of both interns and the Foundation the aim and the out put of the programme activities should be made clear for all concerned.

Also, at first, most of my expectations of the internship did not match with the real programme of the internship. The tasks I helped implemented such as Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School, Gwangju Forum for Asian Human Rights, Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award 2006; and the different activities such as NGO visits and attending seminars or symposium made the internship more meaningful. Also, I became a speaker in Gwangju Human Rights Film Festival and responsible for inviting Indonesia’s famous rock band called Slank Band for the “Echo of Asia”, a peace concert. The most important achievement I got from this programme that enhanced my personal achievements as well was the campaign on Indonesia and Aceh’s human rights abuses specifically the campaign on the Case of Munir. Since the foundation holds several events and invites participants from other countries, I believe that The May 18 Memorial Foundation is the right organization to help and support Asian countries with their campaigns.
Mustawalad (KontraS, Indonesia)

My internship was a very unique and worthwhile experience. I always believed that traveling and living in a foreign country broadens one’s horizon, so that makes me want to travel some more. Having Koreans NGO partners and friends in the Philippines made me acquainted with things Korean, in a way made it easy for me to adjust in my stay here in Gwangju City. Although, I am so envious of the success of democracy that the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising gave birth to, paving the way for an economic miracle here in Korea, that envy is fueling my zeal and enthusiasm to continue with my NGO work in the Philippines. Definitely there will be a time for us Filipinos to turn-around our current state of just a banana and labor exporter to Korea. I look forward for that time to come in my lifetime.

I particularly liked the trust I was afforded to do as an intern. Also, the unity and cooperation among us interns was great. Despite cultural and religious differences we were able to transcend them and we could say that we became more than colleagues but real friends if not brothers and sisters. I hope that I have contributed to the aim and objective of the internship program and optimistic that the little accomplishment I and my co-interns have done would be the basis for the next batch to improve on and make greater contributions for the continued success of the internship program. I wish the next batch of interns to take maximum benefit both in their professional career and personal growth in this internship program.
Pete Rahon (CO Multiversity, Philippines)

12. Contact Persons:

Should there be any problems or changes with your planned trip to Gwangju, please contact the May 18 Memorial Foundation through

Mr. Chanho Kim
Director, International Cooperation Team
Mobile: +82 10 4642 6650 (international)
010 4642 6650 (local)

Mr. Sang Seon Kim (Chris)
Staff charged for International Solidarity
Mobile: +82 10 8000 8052 (international)
010 8000 8052 (local)
E-mail :

The May 18 Memorial Foundation
5.18 Memorial Culture Hall
Seo-Gu Sangmudong 1268
Gwangju City
Post Code 502-260
Republic of Korea
Phone: +82 62 456 0518
Fax. +82 62 456 0519

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518 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School