Archive for May, 2007

AFAD Statement for the International Week of the Disappeared


From May 26 to June 1, the International Week of the Disappeared, we remember all the desaparecidos whose lives have been erased yet whose memories even legacies continue to live on in our hearts. Our memory of them has served as sparks of fire that kindled the fire in our spirits to march to the streets calling their names and demanding that they be surfaced alive and be returned to their families alive! We stand together with all the pained families, our hopes undaunted by this long-drawn struggle against impunity. With them, we patiently await the day when missed fathers, brothers, sons, mother, sisters and daughters, would finally come home.

Disappearances cause adverse impacts in the lives of the families of the victims. Trauma for one thing is the hardest to overcome. Since 2004, AFAD has been conducting rehabilitation sessions for the families of the disappeared. In one of the sessions, a symbolic re-planting of a couple of plants was done. These plants were uprooted, thus, they must be brought back to the earth soon, or they would wither and die. It signified how involuntary disappearances have uprooted families from their normal lives and the routines they used to have. If their broken hopes and dreams are not “re-planted” soon, they too will lose the will to live and be lost in an endless tide of despair.

Thus, in AFAD’s effort to bring truth and justice to these families, it hopes to re-plant the families lives, bring them closure and stability. On this International Week of the Disappeared, AFAD not only expresses but emphasizes its aim to help revive the strength and the will to live amongst all the families.

On June 1, the Federation has arranged a tree-planting activity to put into tangible symbols all these hopes for a renewed life, spirit, hopes and dreams. All member-organizations will plant and hold their symbolic tree for all the desaparecidos around the world. And soon, as these seedlings find their roots once more on the solid earth, the families too will find their roots again in society. And over time, as the seedlings grow, let us hope that so will the hopes and dreams of the families. And as the seedlings soon become steady and strong trees that can weather any storm, so will the lives of the families.

But of course, these seedlings cannot grow into strong trees without our care and nurturing. Hopes, dreams and lives cannot survive without love and support from relatives and friends. So on this special week; let us renew our commitment to care for our missed loved ones, our families and friends. Together, let us all grow strong and sturdy to weather any storm.

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances considers the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances as a major source of strength. On the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared, we call on all governments, especially Asian governments to sign and ratify this important international treaty that ensures the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances. Its implementation in the national level would require the enactment of national laws criminalizing enforced disappearances which do not yet exist in any part of Asia.

Signed:

MUGIYANTO
Chairperson

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Secretary-General

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Gwangju International Peace Forum (GIPF) 2007


Gwangju International Peace Forum (GIPF) 2007

Draft Agreement / Decisions
17 May 2007

Inspired by the spirit of Gwangju which symbolizes people’s struggles and resistance against state violence and self-governance as demonstrated in May 1980,

Alarmed by the worsening human rights situations and sliding back of democracy in many countries in Asia,

Compelled by the urgent need to respond to the challenges of ‘threat to democracy’ and dominant culture of impunity,

1. We, participants of the GIPF 2007, resolve to initiate a foundational process of establishing a regional network (forum, platform, corridor, etc.) for action among democracy advocates, human rights defenders and social movement activists, mainly participants of the GIPF since 2003 based on the collective experiences of struggle for democracy and human rights and sense of solidarity created among participants of 1st East HRD Forum 2007.

2. A network to be created can be called temporarily “International Movement for Democratization in Asia” (IMDA).

3. Its main purpose is to promote regional cooperation among democracy advocates, human rights defenders and social movement activists for democratization from below based on people’s rights and empowerment vis-à-vis repeated violence and atrocities inflicted by states , as we experienced in different societies in Asia.

4. It should not duplicate the work of the existing organizations, networks or coalitions but complementary and there should be added-value and synergy should be sought.

5. It should be inclusive, action-oriented and victims-responsive.

6. Its foundational agenda for action can be as follows;

– Direct action on gross human right violations or “threat to democracy” and/or on impunity such as extra-judiciary killings in the Philippines.
– Support for victims of democratic struggles or human rights violations
– Capacity-building and training of young democracy advocates or human rights defenders.
– Documenting and preserving the memories of people’s democratic struggle for inter-generational dialogue or transmission of memory to young people and new generations to come.
– International solidarity campaign for the release from continued detention of 2004 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award winner Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners of Burma

7) Facilitating Committee (FC) shall be created with some members of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the May 18 Foundation and a few regional NGOs and national focal points that are as follows:

A. National Groups/ Focal Points –
– Burma : Aung Moe Zaw, Asia pacific people’s partnership on Burma (APPPB) or ALTSEAN-Burma
– Indonesia: Wardah Hafidz, UPC, Indonesia, IAC
– Malaysia: Mohammed Ezzam, GERAK (IAC)
– Nepal: Jit Man Basnet, Goli Village Development Committee
– Philippines: Rowel Candelaria, PhilCOS, Philippines, IAC
– Sri Lanka:K.J. Brito Fernando, Right to Life
– Cambodia: Thun Saray

B. Regional Groups
– ANFREL : Ichai Supraid
– ARENA: Francis Lee
– FORUM-ASIA: Anselmo Lee, IAC

8. The mandate of FC to facilitate a process of establishing so called IMDA among participants of the GIPF and other like minded groups.

9) FC shall be in charge of organizing a regional consultation in Asia (Bangkok, Manila or Jakarta) in the second half of the year 2007 with support from the May 18 Foundation.

10) The political killings of democracy advocates in the Philippines can be taken up as a concrete issue for international solidarity action/campaign initiated by FC.

11) FC shall draft a proposal and it will be circulated among all participants of the GIPF 2007.

12) The May 18 Memorial Foundation shall serve as an (interim) secretariat to support communication among FC and participants of the GIPF 2007, and provide necessary financial assistance for the work of the FC and a forthcoming regional consultation in 2007.

13. All participants of the GIPF since 2007 and participants of the program activities organized by the May 18 Foundation shall be invited to join the process.

14. Other participants who wish to join are invited to contact the May 18 Foundation to indicate their intension to participate and they shall be kept informed of any progress.

New Interns for 2007

Two interns were chosen for 2007. Read the profile of the new interns from Malaysia and Mongolia:

(NB: THENCY GUNASEKARAN from Malaysia is an active blogger, read more about her at: thencysfootprints.blogspot.com

I’m Thency and by nature I am a very friendly, energetic, passionate, adaptable and practical person. Professionally I enjoy exploring new ideas and concepts, looking for innovative ways to solve any problems or situations that might arise during the course of my work. I like to try different ways of doing things instead of always following what has been tried and tested. I am able to work independently with minimum supervision but at the same time I am also able to work in a team.

My passion lies in human rights issues with a special focus on trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor. I consider human trafficking a form of slavery and believe it should be eradicated with utmost vigor. In recent times I have been working with marginalized communities using a rights based approach as well as active participation from the community itself. This has served to remind me of the importance of knowing one’s rights to be able to actually claim them when they are violated. I strongly believe that education and awareness are very vital elements when we talk about rights and democracy. By education I’m not referring to an institutionalized education. I’m actually referring to the process of raising awareness as a whole. One does not need to be highly literate to know one’s rights or to be entitled to one’s rights. A person is entitled to their rights regardless of their status. This is something that I will work on in future. Many people aren’t aware of this and sadly this contributes to their rights being continuously violated.

Where skills are concerned my strength lies in organizing events be it workshops, trainings or others. I am also a competent public speaker who enjoys sharing information with people. I enjoy conducting trainings as well. I take great delight in working with and interacting with people. The human mind is something that continues to fascinate me till today. I have had the opportunity to attend various trainings on topics that range from Gender-based violence, good governance, leadership, professional etiquette, conflict mediation, presentations and public speaking, child sexual abuse, personal safety for children, writers for women’s rights and marketing. All these workshops have helped me to open my thinking and look at things from various perspectives. As for my hobbies, I enjoy reading, listening to and playing music, dancing and meeting people from various backgrounds. These activities serve as a method for me to relax and unwind after working. Everything that I have involved myself in and participated in has served to mould me to be what I am today. My passion and interest to bring about change is a strong drive factor that pushes me to try and do what I can to bring about a better understanding and respect for human rights in my country.

My expectations, objectives, and interests on the human rights internship program.

I first heard about the May 18 Human Rights Internship Program last year. At that time the program and learning experience it had to offer intrigued me. Unfortunately I couldn’t apply for it then. A year down the road, my interest in the program has increased as during this past one year, I have had the opportunity to read, listen and learn a little bit about the foundation, its purpose and aims as well as the role it plays in promoting human rights and democracy.

I have been involved in voluntary work since 2003 only. Although my interest and passion has always revolved around issues affecting humans, justice and equality, I only got the opportunity to actively do something constructive when I entered university. Since my university days I’ve been actively involved with local Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – mainly with groups working on women’s rights, child’s rights and youth development.

I’ve been an active member of AIESEC, a global youth run organization that aims to foster peace and understanding via developing the potential of young people, sensitizing them towards social issues and providing them with the opportunity to experience and understand various cultures. I believe that peace can only be achieved when humans learn to accept each other without prejudice. My time in AIESEC exposed me to the reality that many young people are actually not aware of what’s happening around them, in the world. Thus I made it one of my goals to incorporate a stronger presence of political and social issues within my organizations’ activities and projects. I took up the role of the person in charge of member development. This enabled me to plan my members learning. I utilized this platform to reach out to the youth in my university to raise awareness about important issues like human rights, gender issues, child’s rights, women’s rights, HIV/AIDS, globalization, the state of the indigenous people and the importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity.
At the same time, my volunteer work with the local NGO’s exposed me to the harsh realities of the human rights and political scenario in Malaysia. I realized all was not well. This exposure has helped shape and challenge my thoughts and viewpoint. I became convinced that working for human rights is something that I wanted to do. Hence my decision to work with Empower right after my graduation in 2006. Working with Empower has given me the opportunity to experience working at the grassroots level with marginalized communities as well as doing work like administrative tasks, organizational tasks, report writing, training and so on. Empower uses the rights based approach in our training and project. This has enabled me to familiarize myself with instruments like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, The Universal
Human Rights Declaration and this has in turn reinforced my believe that education and awareness about the importance and the value of freedom and rights is a vital element in ensuring that a person’s right is upheld. I strongly believe that it is extremely important for society to be aware that a lot of things that they take for granted or struggle for is in actual fact a basic right.

One of the main reasons for my interest in the internship program is that having read about the May 18 Uprising incident, having met and spoken to some Koreans, I realized that there is a sense of patriotism and pride that they exude when they speak about their country’s struggle for democracy. It struck me that these are people who seem to truly appreciate democracy and their freedom. This is something, sadly not very apparent amongst the Malaysian youth I’ve met. Not many youth seem to realize that the price for democracy and freedom has been great…..it doesn’t come easy.

I believe that I can learn a lot from this internship. I would like to know what is it that makes the Koreans so aware of the importance of democracy, freedom and the up-keeping of human rights in a nations survival and growth. I’d like to bring that knowledge to share with the youth of my country as I believe that the youth play a crucial role in the quest for freedom.

My objectives for applying for this internship would be to gain more exposure and knowledge about the Korean struggle for democracy. I’d like to know about the history of the struggle and what is it that continues to drive the people to strive to maintain democracy and respect human rights. I would also like to learn and observe how Korean NGOs work, the approach that they use when handling human rights issues. I would also like to bring back what I would learn in Korea to share with my fellow activists in Malaysia. I believe that the theoretical knowledge as well as the practical experience I would gain from this internship will prove to be invaluable in my quest to promote and uphold human rights.

My expectations towards this internship would be to firstly, be able to learn in depth about the Korean struggle for democracy and to appreciate the sacrifices that have been made to achieve democracy and uphold human right. I would like to learn and listen to the people themselves about their experiences, and how even after such a devastating incident like the Uprising, the people have managed to rise again and move on with life.

Secondly, I hope to experience a challenging internship where I will be able to learn new skills and knowledge, stimulate and challenge my mind and way of thinking. At the same time, I would also like to contribute to the May 18 Foundation in any way that I might be able to. Networking with the people from the foundation and the other interns would also be something I hope to do as well.

Last but not the least, I would like to experience the Korean culture. The best way to learn about people is to actually live amongst them, speak to them, learn their language, experience their culture and to be open to learning experiences. My exposure through my reading as well as interacting with Korean friends has deepened my interest in Korea and her culture as a whole.

With this, I sincerely hope that I will be given the opportunity to participate in this internship program as I believe it will be a fulfilling and beneficial experience for both sides. I hope to be able to interact and engage with activists from Korea and others as well in order to learn from them as well as to share my experiences.

TUMENBAYAR CHULUUNBAATAR is from Mongolia.

I started my work experience as lawyer consultant for medical company which had a special focus on providing medical service for disadvantaged group of people such as retired, unemployed and disabled who can not afford quality service in private hospitals. As lawyer I was often involved in getting their health and social insurance. This experience gives me deep understanding what does mean the right to health, how this right needs to be accessible, affordable for all, how this need to be regulated by state policies and programmmes. My concern of the human rights situation made me to work in the Centre for Human Rights and Devlopment, NGO working actively in Mongolia on protection and promotion of human rights. In CHRD I work as assistant on the “Program for combating against human trafficking in Mongolia”. Our program has been working in following areas

– Prevention, protection and prosecution of human trafficking crime,
– Victimization, protecting victims
– Ensuring effective prosecution and enforcement of laws.

Also, I am involved as an assistant of coordination on law reform working group which aims to amend criminal code article 113 under the provision “Human buying and human selling”. I was involved in case analysis, comparative studies of legal provisions in different countries on trafficking. I am also responsible for coordination and preparation of logistics in organizing trainings for police officers at grassroots level from districts police offices of urban area and Ulaanbaatar, which was held from August to December, 2006

I also coordinated and prepared logistical issues for working meeting on amending and changing the Advertisement Law which is held on 18th January, 2007. Working as a assistant on coordinating advocates working group where protecting victims of human trafficking crime. I am friendly, easy for communication, like singing and playing on guitar.

Last seven months I have been working on human rights field. Everyday, in my work place I listen and get knowledge on problems and issues related to violation of human rights in my country and other countries, too. Therefore, I think that issues about human rights, democracy and peace are not only our country issues, it is also relevant and connecting to all countries and earth, as well . Hence, every countries and people need to join or work together to protect, combat for and promote human rights, democracy and peace. From these reasons I am applying for human rights internship to the May 18 Foundation in Gwangui, South Korea. Because I have goals where I want to learn and improve my skills and knowledge by referred below. These are:
– Learn and exchange information about experiences, skills and present condition of human rights on South Korea and other countries from friends who will join to this internship.
– Build good communications among human rights defenders through sharing news or information
– Introduce to participants about present human rights condition of Mongolia.

Finally, by involving in this program I will improve my knowledge on human rights, democracy and peace and improve my working skills at regional level. Also, I want to make a network among civil societies and develop partnership work with NGOs and people who are protecting human rights.


Acceptance speech by Irom Singhajit Singh
(receiving the award on behalf of his sister Irom Sharmila Chanu)

Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen, and dear friends:

I am deeply moved by the honour bestowed on my sister Irom Sharmila Chanu. The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is an acknowledgement of the struggle carried out by Sharmila and all my brothers and sisters of Manipur. I humbly accept this on their behalf.

We were in Manipur, a province in the North East part of India when we heard the news that she would be receiving this award. Sharmila herself is currently imprisoned by the Manipuri authorities and is kept in confinement at the J.N. Hospital in Imphal. For more than six years she has continued in this manner – refusing food and water – forced to live with a tube pushed down her nose. In the midst of all the violence, the brutal misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, she is still resolved to continue with her non-violent protest.

We are privileged to be here in your midst today. This prestigious award is a great honor for women everywhere who struggle for justice. This award is an acknowledgement and valuable support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and justice by peaceful means. It is indeed a boost to our moral courage and we are grateful to know that people beyond our country are recognizing her humble effort to sustain human dignity and right to life. I would like to thank your kind and goodhearted gesture in embracing our suffering. Receiving this award is another important step in Sharmila’s nonviolent protest against the killing of innocent civilians by the armed forces.

We have been brought up in a lower middle class family and Sharmila is the youngest of nine children. She had to discontinue her education after 12th standard. She has always been motivated to follow a holistic lifestyle – choosing to conserve energy in every way possible and caring deeply about the environment. Sharmila showed an early interest in Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violent protest. To strengthen her resolve and not be weakened by any persuasion, she has not met her mother since her fast began – resolving to meet her when she reaches her destination – repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

She has been arrested and detained under section 309 of Indian Penal Code (attempt to commit suicide) in the hospitals of Manipur and Delhi fort the past six years. In fact it is now almost 2400 days since she has been on hunger strike. She has remained currently without solid food since then in one single room of JN hospital, demanding withdrawal from her state, of one of the most draconian laws in the statue books called Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, who is protesting the killing of 10 innocent people in Nov ’2000 by the Army in Malom, Manipur, India, has become synonymous with the agitation against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The Act gives draconian powers to the security forces and has repeatedly been used with brutality in the North East and Kashmir.

Sharmila has become one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage fro the conflict areas of North East India in recent years. She has become an important symbol, in the struggle against oppression. She has refused to give up on her belief that no guns but peaceful protest will make the nation engage with Manipur’s plight.

If I may be permitted for a moment, I would like to be more specific and like to briefly raise few personal sharing. In over 6 years of my sister fasting, I have encountered many situations in my life, but one of the most confusing and difficult situations I faced is how to stop her fasting. I simply do not want to see her dying slowly in front of my eyes helplessly. All I have are simple, natural positive examples and testimonies of victims. Statistics fluctuate, and theories can be challenged, but life experience will stand in time. We can no longer accept this as an outcome of a system existing in our country, nor can we view recovery for such challenges by giving justification of implementing extraordinary laws to deal with extraordinary situation violating all democratic principles. We need a global perspective, a coherent perspective which ensures that the components, where warranted, contributing to a good system take place and be there for each and all. We the citizens of India deserve it. The reason why we live in a society where we build instruments such as Human Rights Commission is to aim towards the supreme goal of ensuring that the fundamental rights of each be respected, that the opportunities be made available to access a quality of life that is worthy of being Indian, that these rights and opportunities be there for all, no matter the differences or barriers, whether those be of conscience, caste, sex or creed.

A just society must ensure that its most marginalized people are protected and have an opportunity to participate in true development. Our legislators need to intensify their listening, and understand the needs of those people living with economic deprivation due to armed conflict between state and non state actors. Beyond government, we have a duty to be interested in our neighbor, our friends or a family member for whom life is difficult. It is through this community self-help that the light will shine on us, and help us recognize our own strengths and fears. It is here, that equality and accessibility begin, and, by crossing this journey with an open spirit, we shall realize that we are all the same at the core, and that we are all part of this human family.

Once again I would like to thank Gwanju Prize Human Rights team who has shown faith in my sister, Irom Sharmila Chanu, and supported her struggle for peace in the conflict areas. It is not possible for me to pass this opportunity without expressing my appreciation towards those who have come through the doors of our activity centre. I also want to thank my mother, family, and friends from the civil society for their support and encouragement in Shamila’s movement.

Thank you very much!
Irom Singhjit Singh (brother of Irom Sharmila Chanu)
Manipur, India

Acceptance Speech of Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi

Distinguished President of the May 18 Memorial Foundation Mr. Lee, Hong-Gil, distinguished members of the Board of Directors, distinguished guests, dear people of Gwangju:

It is a great and revolutionary honour for me and my colleagues at the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) to receive the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights for the fight for the dignity of the poor and “untouchables” of India. Further, as a co-recipient with Ms Irom Sharmila Chanu, an icon of resistance against the draconian state law of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the honour is manifolds.
Greetings and thanks to May 18 memorial foundation for reorganization of most wretchedly treated people in the world, the Dalits of India, known once as ‘untouchables’. The silence imposed by draconian suppression sanctified by religious rituals of the Upper Caste was such that the outside world knew little about this colossal cruelty. Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, former Judge, Supreme Court of India described the plight of the Dalits in the following words, I quote, ” Courts to them are alien, laws their enemy and human justice their despair.”

The caste system continues to determine political, social, and economic life of a billion people in South Asia. The caste system, straddling across the scrawny shoulders of the Untouchables, is like that Old man in Tolstoy’s story, who has all the sympathy for the poor bearer and would like to do anything but to get off his shoulder. The most significant aspect of caste is its ability to resurface without a trace of remorse on the part of the perpetrator. It is like that chemical addiction which once had makes you vulnerable to its guiles forever.

Modern India embarked on the road to freedom with a resolute face to deliver social justice along with dignity to its millions of ever enslaved, downtrodden, poor and Dalits. In 60 years little has changed. The atrocities against Dalits have taken more blatant and bizarre form and in some parts of my country, shake the confidence in humanity in the fact that it has the ability to call itself Civilized! In the past, we are told, that if anyone from the lower caste breached the unwritten law of caste hierarchy, the person would be beaten up in public. Now the person will be shot dead and the village burnt down and the women raped. A bride groom daring to ride a horse during his marriage, an enterprising peasant digging a well in his land, or if, a boy falls in love with a girl – do you kill them. Yet, if they belong to the dalit caste they are killed. We still say that there is rule of law in India!

Dalits have an appalling rate of literacy. When the national average touches 67%, among the dalits it is a mere 32%. And if at all you are a woman from that community, it is still less at 23%. Only 6% dalits own land. Most of them labour in someone else’ field or migrate to cities to lose their identity.

The fight for Dalit rights in India has had a chequered history. At every turn they have been betrayed and let down by their own and the political masters. Mainstream politics in India has only recently and reluctantly acknowledged the space for dalits. Till now the main thrust of political intervention has been in the shape of reservations in government posts without adequately making them empowered to get a rightful and dignified place in society.

There is considerable amount of conspiracy, nationwide by Hindu fascist forces, against the lower caste. This was evident from the nationwide spell of destruction of statues of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. It is an irony that he is the father of the Indian Constitution and also a dalit who fought his way in the caste ridden society. The destruction of Amebkar statue happened in several places in India. In one such incident, which happened in Piyari village of Uttar Pradesh, the people from the lower caste tried to fight against those who came to destroy the statue. To their surprise they found that among those who came to destroy the statue there were police officers. The people from the Dalit caste faced them with sticks and tried in vain to prevent the destruction. The result was that the local police registered a case and a counter case. One against those who came to destroy the statue and one against those who tried to prevent the destruction. Of course when the police registered the case, they conveniently avoided those from the police department. The case was filed in a local court. However, soon to the surprise of the upper caste they found that the judge was from a lower caste, which is a rarity. Without any notice to anyone involved in the case, the case was soon transferred to another court.

To transfer the case it needs to be done with the sanction of a superior court. So it means that the superior courts also in a way connived with the upper caste. Nothing better could be expected from a place where in the recent past, a District Judge, before occupying the chair used by his predecessor, who happened to be from a lower caste, conducted some religious ceremonies in court to purify the chair and washed the chair with the water from the river Ganga, which is believed to purify all the sins.

When a person from the upper caste commits a crime, whatever it may be, after trial the person who committed the crime is punished. However, when it comes to the lower caste the entire community is punished. The punishment is not by the court, but by members from the upper caste and the crime is not theft or murder. It could be anything from polluting the village well by draining water from it or washing in the pond thereby polluting the pond or even walking in the road while an upper caste was using the same road. The punishment is instant and often carried out by gangs of upper caste members by burning down the houses of the lower caste, beating the residents and often molesting or raping their women in public. In one such incident which happened in Narkati village of Kaimur Range of UP when a similar upper caste police raided the village a five year old girl cried out loud since she was afraid of strangers. Her name is Anjali. These people who saw her crying did not spare her. She was also beaten up by the policemen. A complaint was lodged with the NHRC. Indian People’s tribunal headed by Justice Sukumaran was appointed. But no action has yet been taken. There is no law and there is no rule of law for these people.

The current trend is to charge anyone and everyone alleging that the person is a Naxalite. Even children aged from 9 are charged with offences allegedly of having involved in Naxalite activity. This happens with the knowledge of the court. Currently the Ram Nagar juvenile court has ordered detention of nine such children.
Indian society still remains in a semi feudal and semi capitalistic mode of production relation. Caste system serves this mode perfectly. The pyramid of Indian society remains aloft on the shoulders of these millions of dalits who forego their human rights so that some people can say India is shining.

However two thousands and eight hundred years ago, lord Budha took up the challenge to end the caste system. In the modern times, Bhakti movement gave birth to Kabir, Raidas later Periyar, Savitri Bai Phule to Jyoti Ba Phule and recently Dr. Bhimrao Ambedker, who took the courage to shake it.

Lastly the movement of Marathwada is the base of Dalit movement in India, which consisted of feminist, socialist and progressive revolution; this caused mortal shocks to caste system, patriarchy, feudal Bramhinism.

On the other hand, from Marathwada itself, RSS germinated. The RSS chief organizer Guru Golwalker, who held Hitler in very high esteem, described India to be a purely Hindu Country and Muslims second class citizens.

The danger faced by the caste dictatorship created a new link in communal Hinduism fascism and imperialism. Till all progressive powers joined hand to crush Brahminism from its roots, till then Manu’s patriarchal dictatorship would persist and flourish. Although very little can be attained so quickly such time communal fascism not get crushed.

The typical danger is from Indian Hindu communal fascism to the entire globe is that every fifth person of the world is Indian.

PVCHR is fighting back the caste system of India through participatory activism through “local thinking and local-global action”. Now Dalit is un-censoring themselves and claiming their own voice in a sustained way, PVCHR has aimed at voicing the disgust of the silent millions not through the bayonet, but by reinstituting their faith in the system of democracy; by fighting continuously with the state to assert their rights.

Dalit associated with PVCHR ask,”We ask, “Is the earth alone?” Don’t you have to go to the earthworm, busy making earth fertile, and ask before taking any important decision!

Who knows if the ants are more concerned about the earth’s future than you?

I am worth an earthworm. For you I am only an ant to be crushed.

My human rights puny before your demon rights

We may be insignificant come on.

Agreed let our claim over the earth is no way less than yours.”

It is time to revive the far-sightedness, the vast imagination and great sensitivity of the people who are remembered on the May 18. It is time that we re-articulate their aspiration in global terms and it is time to grasp the possibilities of that moment. The folk-school spirit of the May 18 Gwangju uprising has become a light of hope to us.

The wind of unification that is blowing in Korea is taking place in this climate. It is with subdued excitement that we on the outside are watching.
I thank the May 18 Memorial Foundation in Gwangju for presenting me with the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which I humbly accept and which I am happy to announce will be used to spread the folk-school approach towards the promotion of human rights and democracy.

Thank you.

May 18 in Gwangju


The article below was posted at the BBC News Webs site –
Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 01:08 GMT 02:08 UK. Searching about 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to verify how the news was spread I stumble upon Seoul Times and saw the article that says it came from BBC News.

This week is the big May Event here in Gwangju City, the bastion of democratization in Korea. May 18 is the highlight of the event especially for the May 18 Memorial Foundation that awards the yearly Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

Linngering Legacy of Korean Massacre
By Becky Branford
BBC News

A quarter of a century on, Koreans are remembering one of the ugliest episodes in their history.

In May 1980, hundreds of civilians were massacred by soldiers in the south-western city of Kwangju after rising up against military rule.

Although it was brutally put down, the Kwangju Uprising is now seen by many as a pivotal moment in the South Korean struggle for democracy in the long period of dictatorship following the Korean war.

The Kwangju Uprising lit the fuse of the dynamite stick of democracy
Hwang Sok-yong
Korean novelist and former dissident

And some contend the uprising had important ramifications which are still being felt now, both inside Korea and beyond its borders.

There is a sombre monument and museum dedicated to the massacre in Kwangju, and the anniversary of the beginning of the siege on 18 May is now a public holiday in Korea.

Batons and bayonets

The protests in Kwangju in the spring of 1980 were not unusual.

The country was being swept by a tide of demonstrations, mainly by students, in the wake of the assassination of the dictator Park Chung Hee and the military coup which brought General Chun Doo-hwan to power in his place.

It was the sheer, open brutality of the response of Korean paratroops which proved decisive.

The paratroops charged crowds with batons and bayonets, stripped students and other citizens down to their underwear in the streets before beating them, and fired indiscriminately into crowds.

This brutality drew outraged ordinary citizens into the struggle, creating a mass movement of resistance which forced the military to retreat from the city for five days, leaving the city in full control of the residents.

The military retook the city on 27 May, crushing the citizens’ resistance in an overwhelming show of force.

The final toll of those who lost their lives is still unknown, as it is believed the military dumped bodies in mass graves or lakes. Estimates today range from 500 to 2,000.

Read more by clicking or cut and paste the links:
BBC News – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4557315.stm

Seoul Times – http://theseoultimes.com/ST/index.html

Raghuvansi and Sharmila Co-winners of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

Press Release
New Delhi, May 7, 2007

It is tenth anniversary of Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, under Human Rights Council. UN General Assembly Reaffirming the importance of the observance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations for the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons in all countries of the world. By acknowledging this UN General Assembly, stressed that all members of the international community shall fulfill, jointly and separately, their solemn obligation to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of any kind, including distinctions based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, to fulfill the charter.

Therefore, recognizing the work of Dr. Lenin Raghuvansi and Ms. Irom Sharmila who have been human rights defenders in their respective filled have been awarded the prestigious Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2007 by the citizens of Gwangju.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights was established to celebrate the spirit of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising by recognizing both individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work. The prize is awarded by the citizens of Gwangju in the spirit of solidarity and gratitude from those whom they have received help in their struggle for democratization and search for truth. It is hoped that through this award the spirit and message of the May 18 will be immortalized in the hearts and mind of humankind.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights which is given yearly has the following aims: 1) to enhance the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising by awarding individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad on their contribution to improving human rights and peace throughout the world; and 2) to reward individuals, groups and institutions in Korea and/or abroad for promoting the goals of the May 18 Democratic Uprising as a movement toward unification and cooperation.

While addressing the press conference Dr Syada Hameed, Member of Planning Commission, stressed that the present 11 th five year plan has mainly focused equitable plan to North East region, dalits and minorities. Also she mentioned as long as task force presence continues in the North East there will be an obstacle in the development.

Ms. Anni Raja, General Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women, speaking at the conference, said that Sharmila’s heroic struggle is a mark in women’s movement. The amount of armed violence by the armed forces has pushed the women to come out to disrobe themselves in the public places. Atrocities by the armed forces have been increasingly deployed in every pockets of the country to curb the human rights struggle where many innocents’ people are victim of armed forces. By congratulating Dr. Lenin’s struggle in UP towards right to food campaign, Ms. Raja stated that the campaign has spread from state to national level.

Dr. Lenin speaking on the occasion spoke on the importance of Gwanju Award for Human Rights was established to marked the spirit of the Gwanju uprising in May 18, 1980, over 200 people were killed where the people in that South Korean city rebelled against military rule and demanded establishment of democracy.

Ms. Preeti Verma spoke this award pave the way to create more opportunities to fight against inequalities not only in NE elsewhere also.

1. I rom Sharmila Chanu, An activist from Manipur, who is protesting the killing of 10 innocent people in Nov’ 2000 by the Army in Malom, Manipur, has become synonymous with the agitation against the Armed Forced Special Powers Act (AFSPA). T he Act gives draconian powers to the security forces and has repeatedly been used with brazen brutality in the Northeast and Jammu & Kashmir , the trauma and evil consequences brought about by the infamous Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 were recounted by the victims of the Act. Currently she has been arrested and strictly detained under section 309 of Indian Penal Code (attempted to commit suicide) in the hospitals of Manipur and Delhi for the past six years. In fact it is 2375 days till today she is on her hunger strike. She has remained without solid food since then, demanding withdrawal from her state, of one of the most draconian laws in the statue books called Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Irom Sharmila Chanu is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage from the conflict areas of North East India in recent years. She has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression. She has refused to give up on her belief that not guns but peaceful protest will make the nation engage with the Northeast’s plight. In awarding the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, 2007, Korea to Irom Sharmila Chanu is an honour for woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.

2. Dr. Lenin Raghavarshi is a social activist based in Beneras, Uttar Pradesh, working towards the elimination of caste system particularly on Dalit issues. He is also vociferously campaign against the torture and right to food. Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi and the People’s Vigilance Committee On Human Rights, (PVCHR) led by him, have put up vehement resistance against the caste system through various social activities, including the supporting of torture victims in five Northern States with 50,000 members participating, and the operation of education centers in 45 provinces for the numerous number of local children. This organization has developed into a nationwide and worldwide network composed of legal experts, journalists, human rights advocacy groups, etc. Also, its leader has brought hope back to the minds of more than 3,500 bonded child laborers and those suffering human rights infringements prompted by the caste system, especially to the untouchables.

Many Thanks
Sunila Singh , National Program Officer, Preventing Torture in India
M- 9910272509/9871080731
E-mail – suni_manas@hotmail.com

Kshetrimayum Onil, Coordinator, Reachout
M- 9818781767
Email – onilrights@gmail.com


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