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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

THE GWANGJU INTERNATIONAL PEACE FORUM 2007 IN SOUTH KOREA

PRESS ADVISORY
8th May 2007
Contact Person : ChanHo Kim
Contact Number : +82 62 456 0518

THE GWANGJU INTERNATIONAL PEACE FORUM 2007 IN SOUTH KOREA

The Gwangju International Peace Forum 2007 is an event that is organized by The May 18 Memorial Foundation of Gwangju, South Korea together with Forum Asia,Thailand. This peace forum is hosted by The May 18 27th Anniversary Committee.

The Gwangju International Peace Forum 2007 is a 4-day event that will be taking place from the 15th of May 2007 till the 18th of May 2007. It will be held at The May 18 Memorial Culture Centre in Gwangju. This event is a brainchild of The May 18 Memorial Foundation that strives to strengthen the solidarity amongst human rights and democracy organizations around the world.

The keynote speaker for The Gwangju International Peace Forum 2007, Mr. Young-Ho Kim is a popular figure in Asia. Mr. Kim was the former Minister in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy in South Korea. He was formerly a professor in Tokyo University, Japan and is currently the President of Yu Han College in Korea. This 4-day event will witness many well-respected and esteemed speakers addressing issues concerning human rights and democracy and the possible measures that can be taken to triumph in this struggle for democracy.

This year The Gwangju International Peace Forum will be held simultaneously with Forum Asia’s East Asian Human Rights Forum. The Gwangju International Peace Forum 2007 will see a total of 150 activists from Korea and abroad participating in this important event. The foreign participants will consist of activists from the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Burma, Mongolia, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Hongkong, Japan, Vietnam and Timor Leste.

‘Gwangju Network for Democracy Movements in Asia’ is the theme for this year’s forum. This is in line with the request of various human rights and democracy organizations that have participated in the previous peace forums of The May 18 Memorial Foundation to play a bigger and more active role in the Asian struggle for democracy. Co-organizing the East Asian Human Rights Forum together with Forum Asia, Thailand, The May 18 Memorial Foundation hopes that the proposed network for democracy movements in Asia will be a bridge that will connect activists from different parts of the world, providing them with solidarity in their struggle for human rights and democracy to be upheld. It is hoped that this network will help facilitate the process of democratization in Asia by putting into place a monitoring mechanism for member countries, producing audio-visual materials of democratic uprisings in Asia as well as developing an education program to nurture youths to become actively involved in the quest for democracy.

Besides the information and dialogue sessions, the peace forum program also includes organized visits to historical sites that are significant to the democratization movement in Korea, participation in the 27th Commemorative Ceremony of the May 18 Democratic Uprising and The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2007 Award Ceremony.

An intense and fruitful dialogue is expected during this peace forum. The May 18 Memorial Foundation is no stranger to the struggle for democracy as they have experienced the bitter struggle during the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising in 1980. It is the foundation’s fervent hope that their fellow activists will be able to triumph in their struggles for a better future.

For more information about The Gwangju International Peace Forum 2007, please contact Mr. ChanHo Kim at +82 62 4560518. Alternatively you can e-mail us at gwangjupeaceforum2007@gmail.com or visit www.518.org .


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