Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nomination is Now Open for 2009 Gwangju Prize

“We feel vindicated that our struggle has borne some fruit and we expect that the democratic forces shall forever close the door to military intervention in the body politic by strengthening all the institutions of the state to perform the functions assigned to them under the Constitution. We feel that we have woken up the slumbering giant – the people of Pakistan- to take charge of its own destiny. Our movement does not end with the reinstatement of the deposed judges. It continues and is in fact a never ending journey during the course of which we shall continue to strive for an independent judiciary, for maintaining the supremacy of the Rule of Law, the Constitution and the establishment of civilian supremacy in running the affairs of the Pakistan. And we shall continue to draw inspiration from the Gwangju Democratization Movement of May 1980”.

Those were the concluding statements of Mr. Muneer Malik’s valedictory speech when he received his 2008 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award. The 2008 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Committee chose Mr. Malik for his fight against military rule in Pakistan. His struggle for the restoration of democracy and human rights is laudable. The award bestowed on him is a message of encouragement to all the citizens, human rights activists and lawyers in Pakistan, who are fighting all together with Muneer A. Malik.

Now, on its 10th year, the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is open for nomination. Since its inception, this prestigious award has been given to 10 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 2009, the prize at stake is 50 Million Korean Won (KRW 50,000,000.00), a gold medal and a certificate. The winner will be invited to grace the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award Night on 18 May 2009, 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 20 March 2009.

Please follow this link if interested to nominate (form is available from this link):

Thursday, November 20, 2008

AFAD Strongly Condemns the Abduction, Beating and Detention of Atty. Parvez Imroz

AFAD Strongly Condemns the Abduction, Beating and Detention

of Atty. Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir of India

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced or involuntary disappearance, strongly condemns the arrest, beating and detention of Atty. Parvez Imroz and his two associates, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir. The arrest took place at 12:30 noon on Monday, November 17, in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. To this writing, the three are still detained.

AFAD learned about this condemnable incident from an urgent appeal sent by the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), our partner-organization in Kashmir. According to said appeal, JKCCS President Parvez Imroz along with a team of around 50 volunteers composed of journalists, human rights activists, trade union activists from within and outside Kashmir, were monitoring the first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly Election.

Monitoring the elections is a usual activity of the JKCCS along with civil society groups from various parts of India. It is recalled that the group also monitored the Assembly Elections of 2002 and the parliamentary elections in 2004. Accordingly, Advocate Parvez Imroz and his two companions, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir, were arrested when they reached the place where a protest demonstration was going on.. The three were allegedly beaten up by the police in front of media men and were later taken to the Police Station in Bandipora.

December 9, 2008 is the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Moreover, December 10, 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this connection, abducting, beating and detaining human rights defenders like Atty. Parvez Imroz and his two companions should never be done by agents of the Indian government.

Atty. Parvez Imroz is an internationally-known human rights defender and a recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize in 2006. He was also the representative of their human rights organization, the Srinagar-based Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), during the initial conceptualization and founding of our Asian-wide Federation for the disappeared and is presently AFAD's Council member. It is, indeed, absurd to abduct, beat and detain him and his two companions because of their human rights activities. Certainly, their continuing detention is detrimental to the international posturing of India which poses itself as the "biggest democracy" in the world.

It is worrying to note that because of his work, Parvez Imroz has indeed earned the ire of the powers-that-be in the country that boasts itself as the biggest democracy in Asia. It has been more than three years since his passport has not been renewed and very obviously, such act by the Indian government can be obviously interpreted as constraining Imroz' mobility with the desperate intention of keeping his mouth shut on the sorry state of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, thus, constraining his capability to tell the international security about the skeletons inside the closet in this beautiful yet sad valley of Kashmir.

Furthermore, on June 30, 2008 at 10:00 p.m., 4 armed men, believed to be policemen, knocked at the house of Mr. Imroz. When asked of their identity by Mr.. Imroz' wife, Rokhsana, the men were aggressively calling on Mr. Imroz to open the door and come out. Aware of the intimidation he received days earlier because of the work of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights, Mr. Imroz immediately informed his brother, Sheik Mustaq Ahmad through the backdoor. Mr. Ahmad reportedly shined a torch at Mr. Imroz door and asked the persons in front to identify themselves only to be aggressively ordered to put off the torch. Mr. Imroz nephew came out of Mr. Ahmad's house, afraid that Mr. Imroz might have been taken away. This forced the armed men to leave, but only after firing a shot in the dark believed to be pointing towards the direction of Mr. Imroz' nephew. The perpetrators threw a grenade that exploded in Mr. Imroz' compound. On their way back, the perpetrators beat a male neighbor.

In view of the above, AFAD strongly calls on the Indian government -

· To release Atty. Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir from detention at the soonest possible time, and

· To ensure that those who are responsible for the arrest, beating and detention of the three human rights defenders be brought to justice in urgency.

· To be true to India's being a signatory to the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which provides for the right of families of the disappeared and their organizations to organize themselves, thus, the government should give Parvez Imroz and his colleagues in the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons their freedom to form their association and work for truth, justice, redress, memory for the disappeared and other victims of human rights violations.

In positively responding to our urgent calls above, India proves that it is, indeed, "the biggest democracy" in the world.

Signed and authenticated by:


Chairperson Secretary-General

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

Phone: 00-632-9274594
Telefax: 00-632-4546759

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sharing 2nd edition E-Newsletter of PPDD

As partner of Peoples Partner for Development and Democracy (PPDD) we would like to share this information to our friends and partners.

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Comrades:


In behalf of the whole staffs and supporters of Peoples Partner for Development and Democracy (PPDD), we are sending you the 2^nd edition of our E-Newsletter which gives you idea on the development and progress of our work as an organization. Please feel free to give us feedback and comments if you have any.

Thank you and I wish you all the best!

Yours sincerely,

Anna Malindog
Executive Director
Peoples Partner for Development and Democracy (PPDD)

(Please click link to download the PDF Newsletter)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Singapore 18: Prosecution or persecution?

(Reposting - received from the e-mail)

Timothy Cooper
Washington Times
7 Nov 2008

The names Gandhi Ambalam, Chia Ti Lik, Chong Kai Xiong, Jeffrey George, Jaslyn Go, Chee Siok Chin, Govindan Rajan, Chee Soon Juan, Jufrie Mahmood, Jufri Salim, Surayah Akbar, Ng E-Jay, Seelan Palay, Shafi'ie, Carl Lang, John Tan, Francis Yong and Sylvester Lim aren't exactly household names -- but they should be. This week 18 Singaporeans -- the Singapore 18 -- are standing trial for purported crimes against America's 11th largest trading partner – Singapore.

Indicted for violating the Miscellaneous Offences Act for assembling peacefully without a permit to register their concerns over escalating housing costs, they claim that they're innocent by virtue of their right under the Singapore constitution to enjoy the guarantees of freedom of assembly and expression. Historically, however, Singapore has viewed political dissent through a lens darkly, treating protest as a threat to social tranquility and economic prosperity, rather than what it is -- a fundamental right and necessity in any democracy.

While Singapore claims to be a constitutional democracy, it nevertheless routinely arrests Singaporeans for attempting to assert those rights articulated under the constitution in the open light of day. A democracy, it's not quite.
Ironically, while their trial is about their right to public assembly in numbers more than four without a permit, and to free speech, they view it as a test about whether Singapore's judiciary is independent enough to interpret the country's constitution objectively. In effect, Judge Chia Wee Kiat, who's presiding magistrate over the case, is on trial, too. Many Singaporeans will be watching how he rules. Americans should be watching, too.

That's because Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs, Wong Kan Seng, appears to refuse to be bound by the affirmative rights guaranteed under the country's basic law. Last February, he stated that [w]e have stopped short of allowing outdoor and street demonstration … Our experiences in the past have taught us to be very circumspect about outdoor and street protests. His reference is to the race riots in Singapore during the 1960s -- almost 50 years ago. Which is like saying that because Washington, D.C. experienced race riots in the 1960s, the residents of Washington must be denied the right to protest government policies. That argument simply doesn't wash.

But the judge in the case will likely rule accordingly, regardless of the plain language of the constitution.
The late Singaporean politician, Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, stated in an interview shortly before his death that his main concern was that the public had the perception that its judiciary was not independent. He himself had been made a bankrupt by defamation lawsuits filed against him by his political opponents and the high damages awarded them by Singapore courts. After paying off his debts, he'd recently committed to heading a new political party, whose primary agenda was calling for the independence of the judiciary.

He was not alone. In July, the International Bar Association (ABA) issued a 72-page report on the state of Singapore's judiciary noting that there are concerns about the objective and subjective independence and impartiality of Singapore judges. The report's final recommendations advocate tenure be granted Singapore judges and that the transfer of judges between executive and judicial roles be banned. They also call on the government to prohibit defamation as a criminal offense, and forbid public officials from initiating criminal defamation suits, which detractors claim are used by government to silence its critics.

One of those critics is Chee Soon Juan. He's been jailed seven times on a potpourri of politically-related charges, including speaking without a permit, contempt of court, and even for attempting to depart Singapore in order to attend an international rights conference. He's been fined nearly $1 million to date and made bankrupt by defamation suits brought against him by former Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong, and Singapore's current Minister Mentor, Lee Hsein Loong. In the next few months, he faces six more trials and an indeterminate amount of jail time. Yet all he wants is for the courts to properly enforce the spirit and letter of the Singapore constitution. Barred from leaving the country, he's been put under country arrest and is a prisoner of conscience.

Were the Singapore 18 living in China or Russia, they'd be enjoying considerable support from the U.S. Instead, they're victims of a sad neglect. They've been cut loose by a nation otherwise preoccupied. But the next Congress and administration should take up the cause of freedom in Singapore. They should exert their influences on Singapore to open up its political space to peaceful dissent and to embrace the benefits of political pluralism. Economic prosperity and political freedoms are not mutually exclusive in Singapore or anywhere else.

Above all, this country should call for judicial reform in Singapore because as J.B. Jeyaretnam would no doubt agree without independence there can be no rule of law.

Timothy Cooper is executive director of the human-rights group Worldrights.

The 18 activists charged:

Gandhi Ambalam

Chia Ti Lik

Chong Kai Xiong

Jeffrey George

Jaslyn Go

Chee Siok Chin

Govindan Rajan

Chee Soon Juan

Jufrie Mahmood

Jufri Salim

Surayah Akbar

Ng E-Jay

Seelan Palay


Carl Lang

John Tan

Francis Yong

Sylvester Lim

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NHRCK Gwangju Launched Human Rights Theme Hall

Last Friday 31 October 2008, the NHRCK Gwangju regional office launced its Human Rights Theme Hall” in KIM Dae-Jung Convention Center Metro Station to promote the 60th anniversary of the UDHR. Walls and post of the metro station are addorned of posters and colorful photos and installation making it alive and vibrant. There's a video and info kiosk in Korean containing information about the UN and UDHR and the commitment that Korean government had made on international treaties.

Below is a slide show photos of the Metro Staition and a press release from the commission:


Opening Ceremony of “Human Rights Theme Hall” in a Metro Station

The NHRCK Gwangju regional office holds an opening ceremony on “Human Rights Theme Hall” in KIM Dae-Jung Convention Center metro station on October 31, 2008. For the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, Gwangju regional office has promoted to build permanent human rights theme exhibition hall in a metro station to ruminate significance of human rights and to raise human rights awareness in our daily lives.

Rights: NHRCK

518 Citations and Awards

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



14550 Magnolia St., Suite 203, Westminster, CA 92683

Tel.: (858) 837-2152; Fax: (619) 291-3807

E:; Web:


October 29, 2008


Little Saigon - California – Today, October 29, 2008, the Vietnam Human Rights Network (VNHRN) released the lists of persons and organizations in Vietnam selected to receive the Vietnam Human Rights Award 2008.

The list includes two individuals and one organization, Venerable Thich Thien Minh, independent journalist Nguyen Van Hai - known under the pen names of Hoang Hai and Dieu Cay - and Freedom of Press Magazine. These award recipients have been selected from a list of 10 candidates, nominated by 12 individuals and organizations in Vietnam and around the world.

The Vietnam Human Rights Award was founded in 2002 with the purpose of providing recognition and support to the works of outstanding human rights activists who have made significant contributions to the cause of human rights and civil rights of the Vietnamese people. It is also an opportunity for the Vietnamese people around the world to demonstrate their solidarity with and support for those involved in this relentless fighting for basic rights and justice.

Since its establishment the Vietnam Human Rights Award has been presented to a number of human rights activists in Vietnam, including Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Father Nguyen Van Ly (2002; Mr. Nguyen Vu Binh, Mr. Le Chi Quang, Doctor Pham Hong Son, Mr. Nguyen Khac Toan (2003); Mr. Pham Que Duong, Doctor Nguyen Dan Que (2004); Rev. Le Quang Liem, Father Phan Van Loi, Venerable Thich Tue Sy (2005); Mr. Do Nam Hai, Mr. Nguyen Chinh Ket (2006); Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh, Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and Lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan (2007).

The 2008 Award Presentation Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Westminster City Hall, California, on December 14, 2008 at 2:00 PM.

The Vietnam Human Rights Award includes a recognition plaque and a cash prize of 6,000 US dollars. VNHRN welcomes financial support from groups or individuals to maintain and strengthen this meaningful endeavor.

Following are brief summaries of the award recipients' accomplishments:

The Venerable Thich Thien Minh

Born in 1955 in Bac Lieu with secular name Huynh Van Ba, Venerable Thich Thien Minh became a monk in 1972 at the pagoda Long Phuoc, in Bac Lieu province. After taking power in 1975, The Communist government has dictated a policy of religion and human right repression. Thich Thien Minh, led by his conviction in basic rights and freedom, began his non-violent resistance to the government’s oppression. He was arrested on March 28, 1979, tried by the people’s court for plotting to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life in prison. In 1986, in the prison camp Xuan Phuoc, he was savagely tortured. Worthy of note is that the Communists opened another trial in the camp, and gave him another life sentence. In 2004 Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, the U.N. Special Rapporter on Religious Intolerance visited Venerable Thich Thien Minh in the prison camp; and in a press conference later, he acknowledged Thich Thien Minh as “the prisoner of conscience of Vietnam”. Under international pressure, the Communists had to release him on 2005 Vietnam’s Tet holiday. Although having spent 26 years in prison, Thich Thien Minh refuses to be intimidated and continues his relentless fight for the release of all political and religious prisoners in Vietnam. In October 2006, Venerable Thich Thien Minh, along with other former political and religious prisoners, founded the Vietnamese Political and Religious Prisoners Friendship Association in Vietnam whose goal is to advocate for the legitimate rights of former prisoners, as well as the freedom and basic rights of 85 million people in the country.

Independent journalist Nguyen Van Hai

Usually known under his pen names of Hoang Hai and Dieu Cay, Mr. Nguyen Van Hai was born in 1953 in the city of Hai Phong. He has been the most courageous writer working on Internet blogs in Vietnam. He founded the Independent Press Club, a group of reporters dedicated to covering the factual aspects of Vietnamese social reality and the collective psyche and aspiration of the Vietnamese people. They join together in fight against the repressive and exploitive land policy and real estate nationalization of the Communist government. He created two web sites: the first one, “The People’s Press”, featuring reportages and articles by journalists of the Independent Press Club; the second one, called “The Peasant’s Pipe” featuring personal reflections on social plagues of Vietnamese society. In addition, he participated in the mobile manifestations against the invasion of Spratly Islands (Truong Sa) and Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa) by Red China at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. Subsequent to the demonstrations, the repressive police machine systematically harassed him by forcing him to report to police stations whenever required with the intention to intimidate him into giving up all his social endeavors and struggles for human rights. He was arrested on April 19, 2008, and tried on the fabricated charge of “tax evasion”. He was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison and incarcerated on September 19, 2008. Several international human rights organizations, along with the Vietnam Human Rights Network, have voiced their protests, and demanded his release.

Freedom of Speech Magazine (Ban Nguyet San Tu Do Ngon Luan)

Freedom of Speech Magazine Is a collective effort of several members of Bloc 8406 with Fr. Chan Tin as the Editor-in-Chief. The editors board, among other contributors, includes Fr. Nguyen Van Ly, Fr. Phan Van Loi, lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and journalist Nguyen Khac Toan…

Freedom of Speech Magazine is a breaking point in the long attempt by the Bloc 8406 activists to fight for freedom of speech and information for the Vietnamese people. Through 61 issues, with specific goals (non-violent fight for basic rights, unmasking Ho Chi Minh and his followers, and abolishing the totalitarian communist regime) and covering diverse contents and topics (legal, religious, political, and social), the 32 A4 format page bi-weekly magazine represents a true testament to the determination, perseverance and sacrifice of those who continue to fight for freedom of speech, which is the most effective means to assist in building democracy and human rights in Vietnam.

Currently, Freedom of Speech Magazine’s founder, Fr. Nguyen Van Ly, and an editor staff, Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, are both in jail. The acting representative, Fr. Phan Van Loi, is currently under tight watch, libeled, and harassed by security agents. Others cooperators and readers throughout Vietnam also continue to face constant interrogations, intimidation and physical attacks because of their involvement with the magazine. Those coordinated efforts by the government aim to destroy Freedom of Speech Magazine, a source of genuine information and an open forum discussion on the most urgent issues of the country. In spite of those difficulties, the editorial staff is determined to keep the Magazine going.

Contact: Nguyen Thanh Trang

Tel: (858) 484-1428

Monday, November 03, 2008

UDHR@60 - a 518 Multimedia


We are all free and equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.

Democratization Song

(click to play music)

임을 위한 행진곡

Im-eul Wi-han haeng-jin-gok

사랑도 명예도 이름도 남김없이
Sa-rang-do meong-ae-do i-rum-do nam-kim-eob-si

한평생 나가자던 뜨거운 맹세
Han-peong-saeng na-ga-ja-den ddeu-geo-un maeng-se

동지는 간데 없고 깃발만 나부껴
Dong-ji-nun gan-dea eob-go gi-bbal-man na-bu-ggeo

새날이 때까지 흔들리지 말자
Sae-nal-i ol ddae-gga-ji heun-deul-li-ji mal-ja

세월은 흘러가도 산천은 안다
Sea-wueol-eun heul-leo-ga-do san-cheon-eun an-da

깨어나서 외치는 뜨거운 함성
Ggae-eo-na-seo oi-chi-neun ddeu-geo-eun ham-seong

앞서서 나가니 산자여 따르라
Ab-seo-seo na-ga-ni san-ja-yeo dda-leu-la

앞서서 나가니 산자여 따르라
Ab-seo-seo na-ga-ni san-ja-yeo dda-leu-la

This is an abridged version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. Although the Declaration, which comprises a broad range of rights, is not a legally binding document, it has inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. These instruments include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which are legally binding treaties. Together with the Universal Declaration, they constitute the International Bill of Rights. For the full text of the Declaration from the United Nations website, go to

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.