Monday, November 21, 2016

20th Gwangju Asia Forum 2016

20th Gwangju Asia Forum 2016

Gwangju Asia Forum is an annual event of the May 18 Memorial Foundation and this year it was held under the big theme named “State Violence and Historical Distortion” in Korea. The especial Guest of the Gwangju Asia Forum was a human right and Ex-President Timor-Leste, Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão , he  also previously received the Gwangju Prize of Human rights. There were a number of sub-events under this bigger theme. These sub-themes are under below.

1: Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016 (GPHR)
2: The Solidarity for Democratization Movements in Asia (SDMA) 
3: The Solidarity for Social Justice (SFSJ)
4: Grass-root Session workshop

1: Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016:
The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is an award given by May 18 Memorial Foundation to recognize "individuals, groups or institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy, and peace through their work.
This year the GPHR award was awarded to basis

a)      Organization basis, this year Bersih (NGO) from Malaysia
Bersih has been calling for law reforms on free and fair elections since 2010 through peaceful campaigns. Approximately 500,000 people in 65 countries around the world joined the latest Bersih solidarity protests in 2015. 2016 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is awarded to Bersih due to their constant struggle for human rights and democracy in Malaysia.

b)       Person basis: Dr. Que Ann from Vietnam
Dr. Que`s quest for freedom for his people and the persecution he has suffered have inspired men and women around the world to speak out on his behalf. Among them, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights presented Dr. Que with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Inspired by his courage and his persistent determination to fight for a free and democratic Vietnam, the US Congress honored him by passing Joint Resolution SJ 168. President Clinton subsequently signed it into Public Law: 103- 258 designating May 11 as Vietnam Human Rights Day.
2:  The Solidarity for Democratization Movements in Asia (SDMA) 
SDMA is a highly innovative network of the Asian NGOs and this year the main theme of SDMA was “How to claim shrinking Democratic Space in Asia”.  The May 18 Memorial Foundation invited participants from the Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, and participants shared their countries status regarding democratic and human rights situation. The SDMA participants urged their governments they should follow the ICCPR and UDHR. Thus, the common people can enjoy and fruits of democracy and human rights. End of the SDMA session it issue a statement too.

3: The Solidarity for Social Justice (SFSJ)
The SFSJ is one of the new initiates of the May 18 Memorial Foundation and it mainly provides space to discuss the criminal Justice system in Asia and it flaws. Most participants came from the Asia and South Asia. The South Asian participants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Philippines shared the almost same situation. Most of the countries judicial and criminal institutions have decade old system, it several flaws and corrupt, so common people unable to get benefit from it. 

4: Grass-roots organization workshop
The May 18 Memorial Foundation, first time invited Asian grass-root organizations and provide them a platform to share their activities with Korean partners. End of the workshop the Foundation provide them laptops and small funds to support their activities.

Gwangju Asia Forum was my first assignment at May 18 Memorial Foundation, which I mainly coordinated and mainly involve in the arrangements of the international participants. Through this activity, I (Shahnawaz) and Rini worked on the development of the concept of the SDMA. Further, I also lead the Grassroots organization workshop 2016. It is amazing and great chance from to meet with several NGO and human rights activists and it was really wonderful learning step for me. I am really happy that with the great support of my partner Rini International intern, we both successfully done it.

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