Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Announcement of 2016 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Recipients

The 2016 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Committee has chosen Nguyen Dan Que and BERSIH 2.0 (Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil), as the co-recipient of the Prize. Nguyen Dan Que is a Vietnamese pro-democracy activist in Saigon and BERSIH 2.0 is the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections. 

Que was born in April 1942 in Hanoi in Vietnam and received an M.D. from Saigon University. He had fought for human rights and democracy and criticized the communist regime's discriminatory health care policy. He was outspoken on behalf of those who had no voice, challenging the government's practice of selectively treating communist party members while neglecting the poor. 

In 1976, he joined forces with some friends who shared his frustration at the lack of basic human rights in Vietnam and founded the non-violent National Progressive Front. Dr. Que was arrested along with nearly 50 fellow activists and was detained for 10 years without formal charges or a trial, beaten, tortured and placed in solitary confinement.

Respected non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch pressed for his release. It was finally granted in 1988, but his health had deteriorated considerably. Dr. Que was not silenced by this horrific experience. He founded the Non-Violent Movement for Human Rights to return to the Vietnamese people the right to choose their own form of government according to their will through free and fair elections.

He was arrested one month later in June 1990 and tortured and imprisoned without a trial. In November 1991, Dr. Que was brought to trial on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Despite vocal opposition by the U.S. Congress, Dr. Que faced a brief trial, without witnesses or legal representation, and was ultimately sentenced to 20 years of hard labor and five years of house arrest. However, he never gave up what he was doing for human rights and democracy. For instance, he established the "Vietnamese Bloggers Network" and "the Vietnamese Women for Human Right Association" in 2013. At the start of 2014, Dr. Que called for all former prisoners of conscience to unite in a league across the country and continue rallying for human rights and democracy in Vietnam. In this context, he and his colleagues founded the Association of Former Prisoners of Conscience. 

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.

BERSIH 2.0 has been an example of strength for the country in the face of mounting challenges from the state. For the first time ever, BERSIH 2.0 gave vibrancy to electoral reform and made it a national agenda for change with its eight demands. This brought them together on the streets to unite for a common cause - free and fair elections. Through mass rallies, it raised political issues and contributed to narrowing gaps in culture, religion, and between ethnic groups. In addition, the rally had raised Malaysia citizens' awareness to the irregularities and controversies in the electoral system and gave them a hope to unite the nation.

The global campaign started by overseas Malaysians saw the formation of global BERSIH and support had been tremendous at every BERSIH rally. It now boasts a network of 85 cities and has recently registered itself to continue with the international advocacy work with overseas Malaysians. In June 2015, Global BERSIH will make its first oral intervention at the UN Universal Periodic Review in Geneva and will present the state of democracy in Malaysia to UN mandate holders.

The Committee found that the value of human rights and peace were realized by Nguyen Dan Que and BERSIH 2.0. We highly praised Dr. Que's achievements even after horrific imprisonments that inspired other Asian regions. Furthermore, the Committee reached an agreement to select BERSIH 2.0 as co-winner with Dr. Que, expecting them to band together with us and promote human rights and peace in Asia regions

The May 18 Memorial Foundation firmly believes that today's decision will deepen solidarity and cooperation in Asian regions and give us a great opportunity to promote human rights and peace.

21 April 2016

2016 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Committee

From: Shahnawaz Khan
International Intern 
The May 18 Memorial Foundation 
Gwangju- Republic of Korea

Announcement: Calling for the Nomination of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016

Every year since 2000, the May 18 Memorial Foundation (Gwangju, Republic of Korea) has announced its annual “Call for nominations for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights”. This Prize has been promoting the spirit of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising in which the people of Gwangju put up a resistance against the brutal military forces for the sake of Democracy and Human Rights in 1980. It affected Korea to bring Democracy in history.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation was founded in 1994 with the aim of spreading and commemorating the democratic spirit shown by the people of Gwangju. In the course of restoring the meaning of the May 18 Democratic Uprising through fact finding, and bringing the perpetrators to justice, even though Gwangju was isolated by the military junta many overseas countries supported the City and wanted to see the restoration of justice and human rights. Therefore, through this prize the May 18 Memorial Foundation would like to share and empathize with people in similar situations to that which the people of Gwangju faced in 1980.
The prize goes to one individual or an organization that has struggled for or contributed to the improvement and advancement of human rights, democracy and peace in their community and country.

Nominations will be collected from December to 1 March. Preliminary and final reviews of nominees will take place from March to April. The winner of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights will be announced in the last week of April. The official prize ceremony will be held in May 18 Memorial Culture Center, Gwangju, on May 18, 2016.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Special Award
In 2016, the May 18 Memorial Foundation also would like to establish the special prize for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Since the time that the Foundation began awarding the Prize, we have received many requests to establish a special prize for those who work for the improvement of human rights by the means of journalism, culture, literature, and many other fields. The special prize will be provided every 2 years. The prize winner will also receive some prize money (5,000,000 Korean won, approximately 4,500 USD) and a certificate at the same Awards ceremony. Nominators can use the same nomination form as that of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

Eligibility for the Prize
1) A person or group eligible for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights nominated by another individual or organization. An individual cannot nominate him/herself and cannot be nominate by their own organization.
2) A person or group who has been struggling for justice and democracy for their community and country.
3) A person or group who contributed towards democracy and human rights movements through their work in their organization.

Policy of the Prize Committee

1) Co-winners may only be selected by the Prize Committee, not by nominators; a nominator can only submit 1 nominee.
2) Nominators cannot interfere with or participate in the Prize Committee’s selection process.
3) The Prize Committee may only disclose the amount of nominees, not the names of them.
4) The winner’s nominator will attend the Prize ceremony with the winner.

Nomination Deadline
21 December 2015 until 1 March 2016.

The Prize
The prize winner will receive the prize money (50,000 USD), medal and certificate.
The prize winner is expected to attend press conferences and a Special Celebration Concert on May 19, 2016.

Details of Timetable
March 2016
Announcement and nomination forms are sent out.

01 March 2016
Deadline for submission of the form and related documents. The Committee assesses the candidates' work and prepares a shortlist.

April 2016
The committee reviews the shortlist and consults advisers as to their knowledge of chosen candidates. The advisers do not directly evaluate nominations nor give explicit recommendations. After an advisory meeting, the official committee will choose a winner and the next day a public announcement and press conference will be held to announce the winner.
18 May 2011
The Prize is awarded in May 18 Memorial Culture Centre, Gwangju.

Contact Information

Shahnawaz Khan
International Intern-Pakistan
Culture and Solidarity Team
The May 18 Memorial Foundation
Postcode 520-260 Sangchon- dong 1268 5.18 Memorial Culture Centre Seo-gu Gwangju, Republic of Korea
Phone: +82 62 457 0518
Fax: +82 62 456 0519
Email: gwangjuprize@gmail.com

Please visit our website for the latest announcements at http://eng.518.org/eng

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.