Monday, July 28, 2008

518 Deploy Volunteers to Asia and United States

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization established on August 30th, 1994 by the surviving victims of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, the victims families, and the citizens of Gwangju.

Since it establishment, the Foundation has carried out numerous projects in various fields, including organizing memorial events, establishing scholarships, fostering research, disseminating information to the public, publishing relevant materials, dispensing charity and welfare benefits, building international solidarity, and awarding The Gwangju prize for Human Rights.

Every year the Foundation opens volunteer opportunity for students and youth. Twice in a year during the month of March and November they can apply as volunteer. This system started since 2004 and as years go by become more systematic.

The Foundation open this opportunity for volunteers to be educated about the significant of May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. When they join as volunteer in the Foundation, they can learn about the history, spirit of the struggle, and practice to be an activist.

The requirements to be the volunteer is not difficult, everyone can apply but mostly the Foundation accept university students. Before becoming a volunteer, they must attend the education program for 1 month: history education, tour to historical places, make a project in group, etc. Only after they have finished all education programs will they become volunteer of the Foundation. After they finished one year as volunteer, the Foundation will give them certificate.

Liberty Park

May 18 Cemetery

The work system is not strict. Normally, they just come to the Foundation at least once a week. There are no specific work for them. They must come every education program. Especially on March, they must to come and help for the May events. In cases where the volunteer don’t come and loose contact for 2 months, automatically she or he will be out from the list.

Volunteers are involved on the Foundation’s events (domestic and international events), like: the Gwangju International Peace Forum, the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, the Nanjang-Human-Free Concert, Red Festa, etc. Mostly on March, they become busy and almost everyday come to the Foundation to help with preparatory work.

Gwangju International Peace Forum & Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

Nanjang-Human-Free Concert

Red Festa

Besides their involvement with events, the Foundation has other program for the volunteers which is the Asia NGOs Internship Program (Volunteer Internship Program). This program gives them a big opportunity to be sent abroad for a duration of 10 months. Every year at least 10 volunteers are sent abroad. The aims of the program are to improve and broaden its relationship with non-governmental organizations through the medium of exchange programs and internships with human rights and peace organizations overseas. The program was created in 2001 to further the cause of human rights and peace in Asia and United States through international solidarity and co-operative networking. The intern is required to return to Korea following the completion of the program. They must to make their report and will have presentation after 2 months they arrive in Gwangju, South Korea.

For 2008, the Foundation will send 11 volunteer abroad. They are:
1. Eun-gyeong Lee - Rainbow's Center, New York
2. Ji-eun Kim - Rainbow's Center, New York
3. Jin-O Jung - Korean Resource Center, Los Angeles
4. Jeong-hoon Park - Korean Resource Center, Los Angeles
5. Seon-yeong Jo - YKASEC, New York
6. Jin-yi Ki - YKASEC, New York
7. Seo-young Yang - IKOHI, Indonesia
8. Tae-wook Kang - PVCHR, India
9. Hee-seop Lee - Shelter for the Poor, Bangladesh
10. Mi-su Na - PPDD, Thailand
11. So-young Ki - Comultiversity, Philippines

the 2008 United State Intern Volunteers

the 2008 Asia Intern Volunteers

As an intern in other organizations abroad, they must help work. They will get knowledge and experience. After their 10 months internship, they must go back to the Foundation and make a report. They will have presentation in front of the staff and other volunteers.

As descendants of the generation of 1980, the volunteers have responsibility for keep and always commemorate the history of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. They must understand that the freedom and democracy in Gwangju is because of the victory of the heroes of May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

Mr. Kim Chanho, director of the Culture and Solidarity Team, said that the foundation wants them to become activist volunteer on human rights, democracy, and peace. The volunteers are not only given their power like a robot, but also they can use their mind and heart. By being involved in events they will much learn and get knowledge, and also have lot of meaningful experiences.



On July 4 – 5, 2008, the Volunteers of the May 18 Memorial Foundation had a field trip and training program to Busan. There were around 40 volunteers, 6 staff, and 2 international interns. This program is conducted every year, but the program is always different each year. The training program is always conducted during summer vacation (middle of year).

The May 18 Memorial Foundation have 3 groups of volunteers, namely :
1. Research and Education Volunteer
2. Culture and Solidarity Volunteer
3. Media Team Volunteer

Each group has different work. They must help and provide assistance to the following teams: Research and Education Team and Culture and Solidarity Team. In the case of media team volunteer, they provide help to both teams.

The aims of the training program were:
1. Each group of volunteers made a presentation about their program and activity for the year. The presentation served them and the Foundation to compare program and activity for a year.
2. Volunteers should know and learn from each others program and activities.
3. Share and exchange the program and activity with the volunteers from Busan Democracy Park.
4. The volunteer from the May 18 Memorial Foundation already past their work for a year, so this program is a refresher for them.

We left the office at 9 AM by bus, and arrived in Busan around 12.30 PM. The first place we visited was the Busan Democracy Park. After, we had lunch together at their canteen.
At 2 PM we gathered in the hall and meet with the Volunteers from the Busan Democracy Park. The first agenda was introduction. After that, the program was announced.

The Volunteers were divided into 4 groups. The way of introduction was interesting. Each person must know not only the name but also age, favorite food, and the reason why they joined the program. One group included volunteers of the May 18 Memorial Foundation and Busan Democracy Park.

The next agenda was a tour around Busan Democracy Park’s area. The volunteers from Busan Democracy Park were guiding us around the Office. We went to some places, which are:

1. The roof of the Foundation. We could see the city of Busan. The guide explained about the 4.16 bridge. It is the first bridge to connect the city to the port.

2. The exhibition hall. Inside, we saw some pictures that includes the information about the history of Busan. There are 2 jail rooms in there.

3. Lobby of the Office. There is a painting depicting the uprising movement in South Korea including the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

4. The altar for prayers.

5. The Monument (outside of the Foundation). The Monument was built to commemorate the victims of the 4.16. There is a place to pray and shows victims memorial.

Ms. Jeong Lynn from the May 18 Memorial Foundation and Ms. Yun Hye-sun from Busan Democracy Park were responsible in coordinating the activities.

We had games in the beach near the hotel at around 5 PM. The games were sports, quiz, etc. The volunteers prepared the games, they already planned it before.

Everyone enjoyed the beach. At around 6 PM we had dinner in the Sea Food Restaurant across the beach. The volunteers continued to play in the beach.

At 8 PM we started the next agenda, volunteers from each Foundation made presentation about their program and activity the year. For the May 18 Memorial Foundation’s Volunteer, they also made a video. The story was about a dream.

The presentation finished around 10 PM, and after we separated in some groups. It was a time for solidarity with other volunteer.

In the morning, after breakfast in a restaurant near the hotel, at around 10 AM we gathered together in the big room at 6th floor. We separated into groups and everyone must write their opinion about their friends. After we took some pictures together in front of the hotel.

We also visited the Busan Modern History Museum. The museum is close to the city. In the museum we watched the documentary video and tour around the museum with a guide.

We went to the street and a book store when at the 4.16 there was a book writer wrote about the democracy and sold the book in the store. After that, we walk to one place which have stairs called 40 steps. We also went to the 40Gyedan Culture Center. The tour finished around 2 PM, and after we had lunch.

At 3 PM we left from the restaurant and went back to Gwangju by bus. In the bus almost everyone were sleeping, they were very tired because the schedule was very tight. We arrived at Gwangju at around 6 PM.

The training program was successful, but the time was very short. Should the time have been longer, the volunteers and the staff from each Foundation could have enjoy more sharing with each other.

Friday, July 25, 2008

More than 1,500 people die of torture in Indian prison, human rights activist says

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – "Torture is legalised state terrorism," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) as he commented a report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights titled Torture in India 2008: A State of Denial which found that 7,468 persons, at an average of 1,494 persons per year, died in prison and police custody between 2002 to 2007. An equal number of persons, if not more, were killed by the army and state paramilitary forces custody in insurgency affected areas, a large number of these deaths the result of torture.
In the country's 12,000 police stations all over the country there is frequent use of torture and use of deadly force at local police stations in India.

India has the highest number of cases of police torture and custodial deaths among the world's democracies and the weakest law against torture.

The police often operate in a climate of impunity, where torture is seen as routine police behaviour to extract confessions.

The report analyses patterns and practices of torture in police custody with special focus on torture by prison guards, the military, armed opposition groups like the Naxalites (Indian Maoists) in north-east India, other public officials and non-state actors like upper castes, recovery agents of the Banks, Panchayats and so-called civil society organisations.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, recipient of the 2007 Gwangju Prize for human rights, stressed that reported cases of abuse is highest among Dalits, Tribals and minority communities.

The Indian system based on castes is diabolic and perpetuates discriminations and crimes against the weakest.

The system is guaranteed by collusion between police and upper castes, which favour the stronger according to a semi-feudal order of things.

"India," said the activist, "has to immediately ratification the UN Convention Against Torture," but sadly it wants to preserve the "nexus between police and feudal of upper-caste."
Dr. Lenin (Ashoka Fellow)
Please visit:

Monday, July 21, 2008

518 Announces Successful Participants for the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk Schoo

Now on its 5th year, The May 18 Memorial Foundation will be hosting the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School on August 11-29, 2008 in Gwangju, Republic of Korea. Twenty-five (25) participants from 14 Asian countries were chosen to attend the folk school.

Popularized by NFS Grundtvig, folk school is a pedagogy emulated all over the world as an alternative, democratic and popular medium of education. The aim of the folk school is to contribute to the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia and provide participants an opportunity to learn and experience Korea's history and the development process of its human rights and democracy. The Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folk School will be conducted both on a theoretical and practical experiences through seminars, workshops, discussions, and field trips to Korea's sites of democratization movements.

Participants of the folk school were chosen among applicants who work for human rights, advocates democracy and peace and social development workers. They belong to different fields and sectors such as the academe, media, cultural workers, informal sector, urban poor group, youth and the like.

For the past two (2) years the foundation has supported 10 scholars to Sungkonghoe University for their Master of Arts in Inter-Asia NGO Studies (MAINS) Programme. Those scholars were previous participants of the folk school who applied for admission to the MAINS Programme. They were endorsed by the foundation based on their active performance and participation in the folk school.

The following are the Lists of Participants to the 2008 Gwangju Asian Human Rights Folks School:

A. Senior

1) Ataur Rahman BMSF - Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadhik Forum (Bangladesh Human Rights Journalist Forum)

2) Ihagama Gedara Mudiyanselage Asela Bandara Commission for Justice Peace Human Development Human Rights Secretariate

3) Jessica E. Amon COM - Community Organizers Multiversity

4) Rowena Legaspi Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center, Inc.

B. Middle Manager

1) Md. Sazzad Hussain Odhikar

2) Pitttiya Gedara Chameera Eroshana Perera AFMD - Association of Family Members of the Dissapeared

3) Mohammad Nasir Karimi UNAMA - Organization Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan

4) Kshetrimayum Onil Reachout

5) Prashatn Singh - People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights

6) Dhiah Hartini Voice of Human Rights News Centre

7) Meng Jiuan Chen - Taiwan Tati Cultural and Ecuational Foundation

8) Vince Aureflor Cinches - Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc.

9) Muhammad Imran Afridi FRSO - Frontier Rural Support Organization

C. Junior

1) Bhawana Bhatta Youth Action Nepal

2) Paudyal Mahesh National Human Rights Commission, Nepal

3) Nai-Wei Cheng The Memorial Foundation of 228

4) Ti Hooi Neow DEMA - Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement

5) Niabdhulghafar Tohming - Asian Resource Foundation

6) Jiranan Hanthamrongwit - Foundation for Community Educational Media

7) Gufron IMPARSIAL - The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor

8) Kuy Rumduol Youth for Peace

9) Kong Keo Sokunthea CCIM - Cambodia Center for Independent Media

10) Janet B. Macailing Workers Assistance Center, Inc.