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Free Tibit Art exhibition is on going in Photo Gallery Exhibition Hall at May 18 Park, Gwangju, South Korea in title on “TIBET BELONGS TO TIBETAN!!” from August 23 to September 22, 2008.

Organized by: Art Space Kang/ The Korean People’s Artists Association, Seoul/ Pusan Branch.

Sponsored by: Memorial Foundation for Pusan Democratization Movement/ The Friends of Tibet/ The Korean People’s Artists Federation, Pusan Branch.





ACTIVITY IN ASIA By: Rowena Legaspi

We have learned from the presentations and discussions/workshop today that Extra-Judicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances are global phenomena. It cuts across countries and borders, regardless of nationalities. Much has been said about the Philippines, which until this time crimes of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances remain unabated.

In other Asian countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand and Afghanistan, enforced disappearance is also one of the major human rights violation issues. No concrete legal remedy in Asia can be done to address these phenomena. In the Philippines, the Writ of Amparo was promulgated by the Supreme Court but only as an immediate remedy for the cases of enforcedly disappeared, it does not prevent the commission of such crime nor comprehensively address enforced disappearances issues.

If no domestic Law in Asia that could address enforced disappearances, then we can only rely our hope on the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. However, we must intensify our campaign and lobbying for the Convention to be ratified by our respective countries, which is a condition necessary for the Convention to enter into force.

As Human Rights workers, we can intensify our campaign towards the ratification of the Convention by incorporating it in our advocacies, be it at the local or international level to influence policy makers, because our role is not just to inform or educate people, but we must go beyond informing, to relive the spirit of the struggle for truth and justice of our enforcedly disappeared brothers and sisters in the human rights struggle, as the families of the victims often say: “to forget is to betray.”

But we might wonder and ask, “why me? I work for peasant’s issues only, or for labor issues only, or displacement, or youth issues, or women’s issues, or fisherfolks issues, or housing issues.” As human rights workers who advocate for different issues, we cannot simply separate the enforce disappearance issues with other human rights issues as all our issues and advocacies are framed on respect for human rights and towards the promotion of social change. And enforced disappearance, this kind of human rights violation can happen to anyone of us, as victims of disappearances came from different sectors – – urban poor, labor, peasants, students, human rights workers/activists, journalists – – no one is spared. It can happen to you, to our loved ones, as it happened already to my journalist father, whose case is just one of the many unresolved cases of involuntary disappearance in the Philippines because of the impunity of the perpetrators. Hence, your advocacy is also my advocacy and everyone’s human rights advocacy is also our advocacy.

With that, I would like us to give life to the words written by the great metaphysical poet John Donne who once said:

“All mankind is one author, and is one volume, when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language, and every chapter must be so translated… No man is an island entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

2008 GAHRFS Opening Ceremony Fotos

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Burma: It Can’t Wait

Independence of National Human Rights Commission of Korea is at risk

Republic of Korea: Independence of National Human Rights Commission of Korea is at risk
ISSUES: National human rights institution

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) is in danger of loosing its independence, through a draft by the Presidential Transition Committee (PTC) on 16 January 2008 placing the commission under the control of the incoming president. On January 25, the draft will be considered at the Government Administration Committee, National Assembly.

Your urgent intervention is needed to save its independence. DETAILED INFORMATION: The Presidential Transition Committee (PTC) was formed after Mr. Lee Myung-bak was elected as the President of Republic of Korea in December 2007. They have now produced a draft concerning the reorganisation of the government institutions which recommends that the NHRCK is to be under the direct control of the Office of the President.

The PTC headed by Ms. Lee Kyung-sook made three reasons for the transition. The reasons are 1) there are a large number of committees within the government and they impede the responsible administration and prevent speedy decision making; 2) the current status of the NHRCK, which does not belong to any government institution either the administration, legislation or judicature violates the principle of separation of the three powers stipulated by Korean Constitution; 3) the NHRCK has to transit in order to normalise its status which has been too much high.

According to the information received, however, the opinion that any government organisation except the Constitutional institution has to belong to administration, legislation or judicature from the PTC is baseless. In order for the opinion to valid, the Act on the NHRCK which is legal basis of its establishment should have been ‘unconstitutional’ or there should have been a flaw at the time of the legislation. In fact it fulfils article 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, which stipulates “Recognising the inviolable fundamental rights that an individual has, the state has accountabilities to ensure them” After this recommendation, Ms. Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights immediately wrote a statement to the chairperson of the PTC, asking her to reconsider the plan.

The NHRCK also made a statement to express its deep concern about the threat to its independence. On January 18, the PTC asked the Government Administration Committee, National Assembly to consider the draft and the Government Administration Committee is scheduled to consider it on January 25. There is a strong possibility of the draft being passed at the National Assembly on January 28.


The NHRCK was established in 25 November 2001 after several discussions by various sectors in Korea over a three year period. While the military government followed by the Japanese colonial had ruled the society for several years, the prosecution, as an investigating agency, had played a leading role in violating human rights and the judicature had not fulfilled its role as a last resort to protect and promote the human rights of the people in the country. With the acknowledgment of this situation, people participating in the discussion of the establishment of the NHRCK had agreed to guarantee its independence from any government powers.

The act on the National Human Rights Commission also provides the authority of the NHRCK to monitor the human rights violation by the law enforcement agencies. There is no exception to this by the administration or the President. However if the NHRCK is to be under the direct control of the President, there is the possibility of the pursuit of political decisions of the President. The debate on its independence originally comes from the “Paris Principles”, which was adopted by General Assembly resolution 48/134 on December 1993. There is no doubt that independence is the cornerstone of its effectiveness and its very existence.


Please join the signature campaign to save the NHRCK from the threats to its independence. Please also indicate your organisation’s name or private. Your signature petition will be directly delivered to the Parliament Members of the Republic of Korea.

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals ProgrammeAsian Human Rights Commission (

Urgent Appeal General: AHRC-UAG-002-2008
19 January 2008

Accepting Nominations -Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2008

Now, on its 8th year, the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is now open for nomination. Since its inception, this prestigious award has been given to 9 individuals and a Korean organization. In 2006 and 2007 saw co-winners receiving the award. Among the winners include Xanana Gusmao (Timor Leste), Daw Aung San Suu Kyii (Burma), Wardah Hafidz (Indonesia), Malalai Joya (Afghanistan) and Irom Sharmila (India).

For 2008, the prize at stake is US$ 50,000.00, a gold medal and a certificate. The winner will be invited to grace the 2008 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award Night on 18 May 2008, in Gwangju, Republic of Korea. This yearly award is sponsored by the May 18 Memorial Foundation.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights was established to celebrate the spirit of May 18 Gwangju Democratic 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. It is hoped that through this award the spirit and message of 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.
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.

Deadline for submission of application form is 30 March 2008. Please visit our blogsites for other related information: and

Please download the form from this link:

Updates from PPDD

Thank you Anna for the updates. please check Anna’s Blog – for more details and pictures.

Dear May 18 Foundation International Cooperation Team:

Greetings of Happy Holidays!

Hope all of you are doing great! Please see attached files. I am sending
you pictures of the Christmas Party of Light School that took place last
Dec. 20 at Thaime’s Bar. It was attended by parents, some colleagues in
the work place and of course by the beautiful kids of Light School!

In behalf of all people and partners including the staffs and kids of
both PPDD and Light School, I want to greet you all a Merry Christmas
and Happy New Year. I wish all the best for year 2008!

Take care and thank you for the continuous support. In behalf of the
staffs of PPDD and Light School kids want to extend gratitude to all of

Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year!

Sincerely yours,

Anna Malindog
PPDD Executive Director

Dear May 18 International Team:

Hope all of you are doing great! Just want to give you some updates of the developments in Light School since the Foundation is financial supporting Light School. Please see below;

1. Migrant Schools Sports Competition in Maesot – LS kids joined and they won a lot of prizes both in sports competition and academic competitions. Out of 6 migrants/stateless schools, LS got the overall 3rd place in the competition. It was such a fun day. It was whole day event and I was there also participating and cheering for the kids and giving prize awards to winners as requested by the organizers of the event.

2. LS Kids and Teachers has the new school uniforms already

3. Community Development and Organizing & Economic Training LS Kids’ Parents is on-going, it started just last Friday (Dec. 6) and will be done by Dec. 27. Every other day we have training with the parents, they are very committed and happy to attend the training. I am having fun with them though sometimes quite hard for me because of the language barrier but it’s ok.

4. Training of Teachers on Human Rights, Child Rights, Leadership, Team Building, Project Management and School Curricula Development is on-going. It started last Saturday (Dec. 7) and will be done in Dec. 23 I guess. We have the training with the teacher almost everyday except Sunday and Monday since these days are my paper work day and I cannot be at the school to train them.

5. The new building of the school is almost done. I will send you pictures as soon as it is finished. The school will have Christmas Party by Dec. 20 at Thaime’s Bar and for this we are quit busy here preparing for the event, packing gifts for kids and teachers and games for kids etc. I will send you pictures after the party.

6. The school compound will undergo clean and green drive to beautify the school. This coming Saturday (Dec. 15) we will have flowers and trees planting and rebuilding of the fence of the school. This will be like an environmental day for LS. I will send you pictures of this event as well afterwards.

So far so good, very busy but ok, PPDD also is expanding so that’s another story to tell. Please check out PPDD blogsite every now and then ( for you to see more pictures and updates of all the developments taking place for PPDD and Light School. Please see attached photos.

Thanks and happy holidays! I will give you update every now and then!

Good luck! Take care all of you!

Best Wishes!

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518 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School