Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alternative Education for Burmese Stateless Children

By: Anna Malindog
PPDD Executive Director

Working for Burma, a country bleeding and suffering from the claws of the “Burmese Army, the Tatmadaw” – is quite a challenging experience for me. In as far the country is concern, it is indeed facing acute cases of not only political and economic crises but much more it is confronting social unrest like the massive deterioration of the country’s social and moral fibers being exemplified by the massive and extensive cases of human rights violations committed against the civilian population of the country. Human rights violations and abuses are but common undertakings in Burma. They are too common that they already become part and parcel of the daily life of the peoples of Burma.

Burma as a country has been in constant conflict since independence from Britain in 1948. Internal civil war and poor governance has brought about widespread poverty, poor health care, low educational standards and systematic human rights abuses. Children, who are among the most vulnerable members of society, have been disproportionately affected by all these factors. Children in Burma are increasingly vulnerable to different kinds of exploitations. These include forced labor, trafficking, portering, recruiting child soldiers, imprisoning children in labor and military camps, and sex assaults against children.

Widespread poverty has also led to a growing number of children from Burma being trafficked into prostitution and street begging. In the face of extreme economic hardship, some parents sell their children, because they believe that the child will have a better life elsewhere, or because they are desperate for the small amount of money paid by the trafficker.

“I have seen these horrible scenarios when I was traveling around the country during the last 6 years of working on Burma issues”.

As a consequence, children and their parents bearing with them feelings of frustrations and desperation would run and cross different border areas of Burma and in most cases large number would end up in the Thai-Burma border since Thailand is the primary destination for these people. The moment these people reach the Thai border they are often not accepted as refugees. Automatically they become illegal migrants/displaced or stateless beings.

The children suffer similar fate with that of their parents. They become illegal people without any status or security whatsoever. There are children born at the border areas who cannot be registered anywhere and consequently are said to be illegal and stateless beings not recognized by any state, not having citizenship in any country and are not protected by any laws at all.

Adding to the bleak and dismal condition of the children at the border areas like Mae Sot is the fact that they don’t have any access to good and quality education that will help develop them to become mature and responsible individuals.

My organization Peoples Partner for Development and Democracy (PPDD), a regional organization working for unprivileged and marginalized groups and communities in South East Asia and in Asia Pacific at large carrying the objective of supporting grassroots people in their struggle for equality, freedom, democracy and development, with the utmost financial and moral support coming from May 18 foundation since 2005 initiated a project which to a greater degree tries to fill in the gap of the lack of educational opportunities of these stateless children from Burma. It established the “Light School: “Alternative Education and Community Development for Displaced and Stateless Children” along the Burmese border, Mae Sot” which aims to provide basic education, safer conditions, child friendly environment, critical and analytical teaching methods for displaced and stateless children.

In as far as the project is concern so far PPDD was able to build two (2) school buildings and the school is in operation for over 10 months and it is catering to 120 stateless children from Burma. The school currently has five (5) teachers and one (1) cook and one (1) project coordinator. In as far as the project is concern it thus far has its own humble success and it continuously faces challenges especially with regards to funding/financing the whole project.

However, PPDD is not alone in overcoming such a challenge. It has its partner organizations and individual supporters who are continuously helping it achieves it goals and objectives for the school. And one of the closest partners of PPDD is May 18 Foundation. The foundation since the formative years of PPDD has been very supportive. It had extended funds to PPDD for its organizational development for two (2) years (2005 -2007) and currently is extending financial support to Light School for two (2) more years (January 2008 – December 2009).

Under the current grant, the Foundation supports for the following project deliverables;

• Provision of School Materials and Facilities and Salary to the Teachers and Personnel of the School. The school currently has one (1) project coordinator; one (1) cook and five (5) teachers, two (2) of them are teaching kindergarten pupils, one (1) is teaching grade 1 pupils, one (1) teaching grade 2 pupils and one (1) teaching both grade 3 and 4 pupils. The teachers are currently catering to a total of 120 children.

• The conduct of training-workshops on community development and organizing, basic human rights education especially on child rights and basic education on how to conserve and preserve the environment and economic training for the parents of the children with possible income-generating projects.

• Expansion of the school operation to higher grade level and continuous community development and organizing and human rights education of the community – this phase basically concerns itself on the expansion both of the school building, facilities and grade levels. Light School will upgrade its grade levels in the next three (3) years to grade 6 and post 10 grade levels. On the other hand, side by side with the school expansion, PPDD will continuously implement its community development project like i.e. micro-financing/credit. PPDD will also continuously conduct training-workshops on human rights, leadership and democracy and basic political concepts for the community and for the parents of the children.

Indeed, May 18 Foundation is part and parcel of the humble successes and achievements my organization had achieved in a short period of time. And each day we look forward to a more “fruitful and meaningful partnership” with the foundation in “changing and empowering peoples and communities” in the areas and places we are working now and will be working in the near future.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Light School Kids having fun with a French Clown

To May 18 Memorial Foundation International Team:


Hope you are doing great! Please see attached file for some pictures of
Light School kids having fun with French clown. This was just last week.
The kids were so happy!!! Just keeping you posted of anything
interesting things taking place at Light school. Thanks and good luck to
you. Take care too!!!

Big smiles and hugs!


December 10 marks the international
commemoration of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
This day should remind us that as God’s creation
we are “all created in the likeness and image of
God “(Genesis 1:2), and therefore have equal
rights to live and enjoy dignified lives. With this
comes a responsibility to ensure that the rest of
humanity experience the same gift from God,
and when conditions are otherwise, Christian
communities are called to “Speak up for people
who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the
rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them
and be a righteous judge. Protect the right of
all the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9). This
is the prophetic mission of the SCM today. We
are called to be God’s channel of peace, justice
and hope in the midst brokenness in the world.

These last few months of 2007 have been
disturbing for many of us living in this part of
the world. We have seen how the Burmese
Military Junta violently quelled the people’s
peaceful voices of resistance in September. The
arrest of lawyers and human rights activist,
following the declaration of martial law by
President Muzzharaf in Pakistan in October, and
the continuing cases of disappearances and
extra-judicial killings in the Philippines and Sri
Lanka. In all these countries, the state or the
powers that be are the principal violator of
human rights, noting that these countries are
original signatories of the UDHR in 1948.

In this issue of PRAXIS, we have printed the
analysis made by the Asia Pacific People’s
Partnership on Burma (APPPB) on the aftermath
of the so-called Maroon Revolution in Burma.
APPPB represents the largest coalition of groups
and NGOs working inside and outside Burma.
In their statement, they highlighted the role of
the 88 Generations of Students Group in
gradually building the awareness of people to
assert their rights and the continuing struggle
finally bring democracy to Burma. The biblical
reflection contains the liturgy prepared by the
WSCF HR Committee on the theme of human
rights. Women’s Space is the story of Doman,
an indigenous young Filipino woman, whose
husband was a victim of the extra-judicial killings
in the Philippines. She narrates her healing
journey and how she is coping with life as a
young single mother of two after the tragic
death of her husband.

As we celebrate the advent season, let us be
reminded of the meaning of the birth of Jesus
Christ in the context of the suffering of people
whose rights to life are denied. Let us celebrate
Christmas with hope for justice and peace and
a better world for the future.
Makabuluhang Pasko sa Lahat! (Meaningful
Christmas to All!)

Necta Montes Rocas
Regional Secretary

Students' Victory: Lee Song Yong unreasonable one-semester suspension withdraw

Below is a letter from DEMA regarding their victory on the case of one of its members. The foundation supported their appeal and petition on this issue.

Dear friends and supporters,

Good news in students' struggle! The one-semester suspension of UPM student, Lee Song Yong had been withdraw, and changed to fine RM 200 with warning letter.

We need to claim here that this is the victory of all of us who involved. This shows that students' and peoples' power can make the changes.

Of course this is not the ideal result that we fight for and fine RM 200 still means Song Yong was doing wrong in the case. Well, we won't make an ending here, we will start another round of student rights awareness campaign start from here, as Song Yong not the only victim of student rights violation.

Thanks for all of you who been supported in our signature campaign and sending out the urgent appeal to give the pressure to the authority to make the decision change.

"Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win. ~Bernadette Devlin."


Lee Song Yong was sentence to one-semester suspension by the UPM authority following UPM disciplinary proceeding on 22 November 2007 under infamous draconian law University and University College Act (UUCA) for allegedly obstructing a security guard from confiscating his personal belongings.

The chronology of the case is as follows:


o At 10pm, Lee Song Yong was stopped by two security guards in uniform at the Anjung Putra guard posts when he was on his way out of campus.

o One of the guards requested to examine Lee's bag. Lee enquired as to the the guards needed to examine his bag, but the guard refused to answer. Lee refused to fulfill the guards' request as he believed nothing wrong and he wanted to be cautious.

o After Lee had refused, the guard made a phone call. Not long after that, three men in plain clothes turned up at Anjung Putra and they refused to heed Lee's request for their identification. Lee held out his matric card to show to the men, and immediately the card was snatched from him.

o The guard then forcefully demanded that Lee surrendered his bag. Lee refused, however one of them snatched the bag from him while the other held him. Lee insisted that they return his belongings. The guards mocked back at Lee with foul words. After rummaging the bag, the man took his notebook and matric card away. They drove off in a Proton Wira.

o Immediately, Lee lodged a report at Sri Serdang police station that his belonging had been snatched by three unknown men in the UPM campus. The police then informed him that the men were security officers of UPM and asked Lee to retrieve his belongings at Security Department the next day.

o Lee went to the Security Department but could not retrieve them as the official on duty was not present.

o Lee went to the Department for another time to retrieve his belongings and had also lodged a complaint against the security officers who had acted aggressively on him. Director of the Deparment, Major Othman bin Jailani promised to investigate.

o His matric card was returned to him except for his notebook. According to the Deparment's investigation the notebook was needed to investigate illegal organisations in UPM.

o Lee obtained a letter confirming the retention of the aforsaid book and Major Othman was the person who issued the letter.

o Lee Song Yong received a notice served upon him to attend a proceeding, attached together with a translated copy of his notebook. Lee was charged for not cooperating with the security officer and had disputed as well as prevented the officer from carrying out his duty.

o He was only given two working days to prepare himself to attend the proceeding on 19 November 2007, Monday, 2.30pm, which carries with it the posibility of expulsion.

o Lee was accompanied by his lawyer Mr Sunil Lopez and SUARAM representative Arutchelven, submitted his application letter to adjourn the proceeding to head of Disciplinary Unit Professor Dr Tai Shzee Yew. Without reading the letter, Dr Tai straightaway rejected the application. They requested that Dr Tai to read the letter first and discussed with them before coming to any decision.

o The letter of complaint against the concerned security officer was sent again at the same time to the Vice Chancellor of UPM, Prof Dr Nik Mustapha.

o At 8.30pm, Lee received a reply letter from the officials informing Lee that both his applications to adjourn the proceeding and to have a lawyer present with him during the whole proceeding were rejected. However, he was allowed to be represented by any students so as to assist him.

o Lee Song Yong went to Banguna Pentadbiran UPM at 2.30pm together with 4 student representatives namely Ooi Tze Min, ng Yong Jin, Teh Yee Keong and Neow Ti Hooi.

o However, the 4 students and parents representatives were later not allowed to attend the proceeding.

o Lee had to attend the proceeding alone without any assistance.

o In the proceeding, Lee requested that he be represented by a student, and that he be allowed to call up a witness to testify before the proceeding. The request was allowed.

o The proceeding was adjourned to 22/11/07 at 9.30am.

o SMM sent a memorandum to SUHAKAM with regards to the cases of abuse of power by the security officials in UPM since 2003. kuasa oleh pengawai keselamatan di UPM sejak tahun 2003.

o SUHAKAM requested that the proceeding Nov 22 to be cancelled to allow the commission to investigate the matter.

o If the proceeding were to proceed, SUHAKAM would send its officer as an observer.

o Prof Dato' Dr Khoo Kay Kim stated that whatever laws that are not in line with the Constitution must be deemed invalid.

o Lee Song Yong attended the proceeding in the company of Ooi Tze Min as his representative and Loke Chiu Chee as his witness.

o In the proceeding, the witnesses from Disciplinary Board which comprises of security guards including uniformed officer, special task unit and director of security Major Othman admitted that Lee had shown that he intended to cooperate by showing his matric card and did not attempt to escape. He only refused to allow his bag to be examined until he obtained the security officers' explanation. The officers themselves had admitted that they did not give any reason when they are checking the bag of the students though it was part of the procedure

o Lee Song Yong was given suspension of one semester with a stern warning by the Disciplinary unit headed by Prof Dr Tai Shzee Yew, Deputy Vice Chancellor.

o At least 30 urgent appeals were sent to Ministry of Higher Education by students, lecturers, local NGOs and international NGOs to demand the withdraw of Lee's suspension.

o SMM went to SUHAKAM for the second time to request serious attention about this case.

o Prof Dato' Dr Khoo Kay Kim said that he will further follow up about this case.

o After 3 times of delaying, Lee finally got the minutes of the proceeding. Unfortunately, it was incomplete; most of the points which benefit Lee were left out.

o SMM went to parliament to get support from MP.

o Lee Song Yong handed in appeal letter to the Ministry of Higher Education on behalf of his own name.

o SMM handed in a memorandum to Minister of Higher Education, requesting serious attention from the ministry.

o IVC (Inter Varsity Council) had a discussion on this case at KLSCAH.

o Lee Song Yong had a meeting with youth of Chinese Society groups.

o Meeting with Dr. Wee Ka Xiong from MCA Youth.

o Dr. Wee Ka Xiong from MCA Youth announced to the media that the appeal result was released and the ministry's decision was to change the one-semester suspension to the fine of RM200 and a warning to Lee Song Yong.

o Lee Song Yong received official letter from Ministry of Higher Education through UPM, stating that the one-semester suspension had been changed to the fine of RM200 and a warning


Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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

Monday, January 14, 2008

Internship Application Deadline Extended




The May 18 Memorial Foundation was founded by Gwangju citizens, sympathetic overseas Koreans, and from individuals who sacrificed and got indemnification from the government. It was created on August 30, 1994 by people who believe it's important to keep the ideas and memories of the 1980 May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising alive and remembered.

The International Internship Program on Human Rights is a program of the Foundation created to contribute in the development of democracy and human rights throughout Asia. It is also an opportunity for interns to learn and experience the history and process of the development of human rights and democracy in South Korea. Specifically the purpose and aim of the program are the following: 1) To improve international solidarity and networking and 2) To promote Gwangju as Asia's Hub for Human Rights Movement.

The Foundation is looking for two interns who will serve for 10 months from March-December 2008. Applicants female or male should not be more than 30 years of age, with a minimum of 3 years NGO or social development work experience on the issues of human rights, democracy and peace. Must be proficient in English and working knowledge of Korean is an advantage. Must be computer literate (email/internet, blog/web page, lay-out/design, etc).

Living allowance will be provided to successful interns. Housing will be provided for free but utilities (telephone/internet, electricity, and gas) will be paid for by interns. The Foundation will pay for the round trip airfare of interns.

Please download the application form if you are interested to apply from any of these links/sites:

Deadline of application is on 30 January 2008. Short listed applicants will be emailed for an online/webcam interview through Skype or Yahoo messenger.

Friday, January 04, 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:

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.