Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sushil Pyakurel Award Ceremony Speech

Sushil Pyakurel
Award Ceremony Speech
Winner, 2010 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 18 May, 2010
Gwangju, South Korea

Honorable members of The May 18 Memorial Foundation
Fellow activists of democratic and human rights movement from different parts of the world,
Ladies and gentlemen!

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for giving me this glorious Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award 2010. I take this award as recognition of my struggle for democracy and human rights for the last 30 years. In course of these last thirty years of continuous struggle for human rights and democracy, I have seen and passed through various struggles such as peasants’ and workers’ movements against feudalism and the people's movement against autocratic monarchy. These struggles have made me realize that without a just distribution of resources and power, the foundation of human rights cannot be built. I am honored to receive this award which is given in the memory of those who have sacrificed their lives during the democratic movement. The spirit of Gwangju shall always inspire us to struggle in defense of democracy. Gwangju is not an unfamiliar name for me and among the youths who have fought in support of democracy in the decade of the 1980s and it is a name frequently recalled which remains as a source of inspiration to many of us. This award has inspired me to stand firmly on the path led by the Gwangju movement of May 18th.

I want to express my commitment to devote the rest of my life for the protection and promotion of human rights. I would like to share with you that I feel very much honored being awarded with such a glorious award, and I would like to dedicate this award to my late Comrade Prakash Kaphley who always inspired and led me in the struggle for Human Rights and Democracy. I also take it as an honor towards the whole democratic movement of Nepal.

At this moment, I would also like to remember the heroes who became injured in course of the Gwangju democratic uprising and to express my heartfelt respect to the martyrs who have raised their voices in favour of freedom of the people and against all kinds of oppressive rules. I would also like to salute the people of Gwangju whereby democracy in Korea is getting strengthened under Gwangju spirit and other Asian countries too have to learn lesson from it. Particularly, South Asian countries have to internalize the Gwangju spirit, as this is a region of vast population, plurality in terms of culture, language, economic status, climate and environment. The abolition of dictatorial and military regime in South Asia opened a way to establish somehow democratic system. All the countries except one in South Asia are republican states. The other part of the story is that this is the region of poverty and hunger where millions of people are forced to live under absolute poverty line. Exclusion, exploitation and social injustice are rampant in each of the countries. Impunity and lack of accountability towards truth, justice and reparation as well as extra judicial killing, torture, disappearances and other forms of heinous human rights violations as well as armed insurgency has become very common phenomenon in South Asia. It is equally sad that the region has been seen as one of the base area for international terrorism.

In spite of these contexts and challenges in the region, I have been struggling to protect human rights and defend the democratic system. Freedom and justice for the citizen has remained the basis of my struggle wherever I have worked. But I feel that we have not been able to comprehend citizen’s freedom and justice properly. I acknowledge receiving the Gwangju prize for Human Rights Award 2010 as a source of great inspiration, as the greatest achievement of my life. In this auspicious moment, I would also like to affirm that certain portion of this Award amount will be utilized in memory of my late Comrade Prakash.

Finally, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the 2010 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Committee for nominating me as the recipient of this glorious Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award 2010.
Thank you.

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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.