Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The May 18 Memorial Foundation Revs up International Solidarity Program

Recognizing the magnitude of globalization and the overarching influence of information and communications technology, international solidarity gets highlighted as response to these global phenomena. International solidarity is one of the core tasks identified by The May 18 Memorial Foundation. It envisions an international solidarity with other countries and organizations based on common goals and mutual interests of promoting the spirit of May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising; advocating for human rights; and protecting the gains of peace and democracy.

The International Solidarity Program focuses on partnership, participation, exchange and networking with civil society groups of Asia and the rest of the world. Particularly it will conduct: 1) regular exchange of experience and expertise with government, human rights institutions, democracy, peace and other civil society groups in Asia; 2) establish a proactive mechanism for collective action and coordination (education, campaign, and programs for social dialogues and action and address equity issues like gender equality and equal participation); 3) conduct activities and hosts forums that introduces international issues and participate in international conferences and gatherings abroad; 4) build bridges of communications among the civil society of Asia and the rest of the globe through the internet and publication of journals, newsletters, brochures and books both in Korean and English; and 5) facilitate the exchange of experiences and technology (expertise, know-how and human resources) that goes beyond simple financial support.

Since 2000, the foundation has been awarding the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, sending its volunteers abroad for internship, providing support for non-government organizations, conducting the Gwangju International Peace Camps, and introducing Korean Democracy especially to Korean youth born abroad.

In 2005, the foundation added new activities such as the International Internship Program on Human Rights, where human rights activist are invited to learn the history and experience of Korean democratization and help promote International Solidarity; Asian Partners Study Visit and Exchange, committee members and officers of the foundation visit and learn from its partner organizations; and the Gwangju Forum for Asian Human Rights, that endeavors to dialogue and forge solidarity between and among public officials of National Human Rights institutions, human rights activists of Non-government Organizations (NGOs), academe and other civil society groups.

For this year, these activities will be continued, according to General Affairs Director Chanho Kim. He believes that through The May 18 - International Solidarity Program the spirit of May 18 will be promoted and Gwangju's role and contribution to international peace, human rights and democracy will be highlighted. He invites individuals, journalists, civil society groups and organizations to join and support the foundation in commemorating and celebrating these programs and activities. Mr. Kim added that detailed information about these activities can be downloaded from the English section of their website at


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Irom Sharmila Video

Irom Sharmila is a young woman of Manipur who has been on a fast-to-death for nearly 7 years now. She has been demanding the removal of a brutal law from her land. Manipur is a north-east Indian state (bordering Myanmar), riven for decades by insurgency and armed separatist movements. The Government of India has attempted to control the situation militarily, granting drastic powers to the security forces. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enforced in the region lets people be arrested, shot and even killed - on suspicion alone. But Sharmila is willing to stake everything -- even her life -- to restore justice and dignity to her people.