Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

North Korean defectors irked by repeated investigations in South Korea

October 1, 2020

Hanawon. Korea Times file
Hanawon. Korea Times file

On 1 October 2020 Kang Seung-woo for the Korean Times reveals a pattern of harassment of North Korean defectors in South Korea: “North Korean defectors irked by repeated human rights investigations

It seems that North Korean defectors are plagued by repeated questioning by South Korean organizations into human rights conditions in their former country. When those who defect from the totalitarian state arrive in South Korea, they have to face three rounds of interrogation, being forced to answer almost identical questions repeatedly and suffering emotional distress in the process. The three interrogations are made by the unification ministry’s Center for North Korean Human Rights Records, the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Seoul. In fact, until last year, there were four institutes investigating into the human rights situation in the North (by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB), a non-governmental organization).

According to the unification ministry, the number of North Korean defectors coming into the South recorded an all-time low in the second quarter this year, at 12, due to the North’s tightened border control amid the coronavirus pandemic. The government is also aware of the difficulty that the defectors face. “It is no doubt that North Korean defectors are forced to repeat stories of their past bitter memories of human rights violations,” a ministry official said.

In order to prevent suffering from repeated questioning, the government this year reduced the number of defectors undergoing these interviews by 30 percent compared to previous years, although it did not disclose exactly how many people are subject to the interrogations. In addition, the government canceled its contract with the NKDB, which refused to accept the reduction in the number of research subjects.

However, some claim that the government should come up with more reliable and detailed investigation results.  See also; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/08/un-archive-on-north-korean-human-rights-violations-to-be-established-in-geneva/

Call for Nominations for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2021

August 13, 2020

 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2021

The May 18 Memorial Foundation announces the call for 2021 nominations for the following Prizes:

1) The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 50,000 USD.

2) The Special Prize of the GPHR (SPGPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 10,000 USD.

For more about these awards, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/gwangju-prize-for-human-rights

A nomination for the GPHR can be submitted by any individual or organization who meets the nomination criteria. Any nomination is considered valid if it is submitted by a person or an organization that falls within one of the following categories:

1) Individuals or organizations who won the May 18 Citizens Award and/or YunSang-won Award

2) Laureates of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

3) Organizations in Korea or overseas working for human rights, peace, and the reunification of Korea that have been active three years or more and that the May 18 Memorial Foundation Directorate decides to request their nomination

4) Any individual or organization in Korea or overseas that agrees on the purpose of the GPHR

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates and the choice of the GPHR. The selection committee is composed of seven members who are designated by the May 18 Memorial Foundation’s Articles of Association. The rest of the procedure will abide by the Articles of Association.

Deadline: 30 September, 2020.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/19/gwangju-human-rights-award-2019-to-philippine-carino-and-indonesian-choir/

http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=announcements.Ann_2020.Call_for_Nomination_Gwangju_Prize_for_Human_Right_2021

Signe Poulsen of Seoul U.N. human rights office to leave post

July 17, 2020

Kim Seung-yeon on 16 July 2020 reported that Signe Poulsen, Seoul office chief of the U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), will leave South Korea this week for a new position in the Philippines, ending her five-year term monitoring human rights situation in North Korea. As it it the end of her normal term it is not clear whether there is any link to her speaking out on the issue of balloons sent over the border. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/29/un-representative-in-south-korea-sees-balloon-actions-as-freedom-of-expression/]

It’s been a great inspiration interacting with civil society and activists working on North Korea’s abduction issues and separated families, and people who continue to make progress in getting their voices heard,” she told Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.

Poulsen said while she has “many regrets” over the lack of progress in improving human rights in the North, the U.N. now places far more weight on the issue compared to the past and that is a big step forward.

North Korea has not unfortunately seemed to have gotten any better since we opened the office. But the U.N. and the international community are now fully engaged on North Korea files. Firm placing of North Korea’s human rights violations in the U.N. system is important,” she said.

Leaving Seoul, she expressed hopes that inter-Korean exchanges at a humanitarian level, including reunions of separated families, will take place in a sustainable way in the long term.

The solution is ultimately for the Korean people and not for me to say. For that to happen I strongly believe human rights must be part of all those engagement and interactions,” she said.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200716005600325

UN representative in South Korea sees balloon actions as freedom of expression

June 29, 2020

The World Tribune of 28 June 2020 reports on the fight sparked by North Korean defectors sending balloons with leaflets to their former homeland, which has brought both Koreas once again to the brink of war. Now Signe Poulsen, head of the Seoul office of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated that sending the leaflets is an exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

In this April 29, 2016 file photo, members of a South Korean civic group send leaflets denouncing the North Korean regime in Tanhyeon, Paju, near the North Korean border. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-Suk

Both the North and South Korean governments have threatened the defectors in the South who have sought to counter communist “fake news” by sending real news North over the DMZ. The leaflets also often contain U.S. one-dollar bills and USB memory sticks meant to encourage North Koreans to pick up the leaflets.

Now the defectors have been targeted by hastily-passed legislation forbidding the practice. Poulsen made the remarks amid heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the North threatened to retaliate against the South for what it called Seoul’s “connivance” at the floating of anti-Pyongyang materials in large balloons.

The government of South Korean President Moon Jae-In, sought to legislate a ban on leafleting and filed a criminal complaints against two defector groups who carry out such launches, the Korea Times reported on June 23. The provincial government of Gyeonggi, located near the border with the North and where a lot of leafleting takes places, issued an administrative order last week banning the entry into border areas to fly leaflets.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/04/21/the-interview-sequel-plays-at-the-korean-border/

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balloon_propaganda_campaigns_in_Korea

https://www.worldtribune.com/un-official-upholds-defectors-freedom-of-expression-under-attack-by-both-koreas/

2020 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to Indonesian Bedjo Untung

March 25, 2020

Catholic priest Moon Kyu-hyun, chief of the Jury for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, speaks during a press conference in the southwestern city of Gwangju on 20 March 2020, to name Indonesia’s Bedjo Untung, founder of the 1965 Murder Victims Research Foundation, the 2020 winner of the prize. The award commemorates the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju. For more info see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/gwangju-prize-for-human-rights.

For 2019 see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/19/gwangju-human-rights-award-2019-to-philippine-carino-and-indonesian-choir/

https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-anti-communist-purge-victim-wins-gwangju-prize/87530

Magsaysay Awards 2019 honor 5 outstanding Asians

August 3, 2019

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, one of Asia’s best known prizes, celebrates transformative leadership. In the past five decades, the award has been bestowed on over three hundred men, women and organizations whose selfless service has offered their societies, Asia, and the world successful solutions to some of the most intractable problems of human development. For more on this regional award, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ramon-magsaysay-award-for-community-leadership] The trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation annually select the awardees. The Award is presented to them in formal ceremonies in Manila, Philippines on August 31st, the birth anniversary of the much-esteemed Philippine President whose ideals inspired the Award’s creation in 1957.

The winners for 2019 are:

Kim, Jong-ki, South Korea

  • In 1995, Kim Jong-ki was a highly successful businessman handling market operations in China for a giant Korean electronics company.  Married, with a son and daughter, he was at the height of his career when tragedy struck.
  • In the year his son died, Jong-ki established the Foundation for Preventing Youth Violence (FPYV), the first organized effort in South Korea to address school violence as a systemic social problem affecting students, families, schools, and the community-at-large.
  • The impact of Jong-ki and FPYV on Korean society has been profound, establishing a nationwide presence and creating collective action on a social problem hitherto neglected.
  • In electing Kim Jong-ki to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his quiet courage in transforming private grief into a mission to protect Korea’s youth from the scourge of bullying and violence, his unstinting dedication to the goal of instilling among the young the values of self-esteem, tolerance, and mutual respect, and his effectively mobilising all sectors of the country in a nationwide drive that has transformed both policy and behaviours towards building a gentler, non-violent society.

Kumar, Ravish, India

  • In 1996, he joined New Delhi Television Network (NDTV), one of India’s leading TV networks and worked his way up from being a field reporter. After NDTV launched its 24-hour Hindi-language news channel — NDTV India — targeting the country’s 422 million native speakers of Hindi, he was given his own daily show, “Prime Time.”
  • As an anchor, Ravish is sober, incisive, and well-informed.  He does not dominate his guests but affords them the chance to express themselves.  He does not balk, however, at calling the highest officials to account or criticizing media and the state of public discourse in the country; for this reason, he has been harassed and threatened by rabid partisans of one kind or another.
  • Ravish has been most vocal on insisting that the professional values of sober, balanced, fact-based reporting be upheld in practice.
  • In electing Ravish Kumar to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy.

Neelapaijit, Angkhana, Thailand

  • In 2006, with the help of non-government organizations and her own family, Angkhana founded Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF), a network of human rights and peace advocates that has done important work in documenting the human rights situation in southern Thailand, thus raising public awareness and putting pressure on government to act on human rights cases, providing legal assistance to victims; and training women on human rights and the peace process.
  • In 2015, Angkhana was named commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand,  the only Commission member with grassroots human rights experience.
  • In her soft-spoken and measured tone she asserts: “Most women experience conflict and violence in a different way than men.
  • In electing Angkhana Neelapaijit to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes her unwavering courage in seeking justice for her husband and many other victims of violence and conflict in southern Thailand; her systematic, unflagging work to reform a flawed and unfair legal system, and the shining proof she is that the humblest ordinary person can achieve national impact in deterring human rights abuses.

Ko Swe Win, Myanmar

https://www.rmaward.asia/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/KSW-Official-2-300x300.png

  • Such a journalist is 41-year-old Ko Swe Win.  Born to a poor family in Yangon, he grew up in politically turbulent times and fell victim to state repression early on.
  • In 2017, he criticized a powerful, ultranationalist Buddhist monk, Ashin Wirathu, for purveying “hate speech” and publicly commending the killer of a Muslim human rights activist.  Wirathu, Swe Win wrote, had desecrated Buddhism and should be punished for endorsing assassination and fomenting hate.
  • Swe Win and Myanmar Now draw strength from the fact that they are making a difference.  With a current readership of 350,000, the news service is highly regarded for the quality, balance, and depth of its reporting on high-impact issues, including land grabbing, child labor, and abuse of domestic workers.
  • In electing Ko Swe Win to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his undaunted commitment to practice independent, ethical, and socially engaged journalism in Myanmar; his incorruptible sense of justice and unflinching pursuit of the truth in crucial but under-reported issues; and his resolute insistence that it is in the quality and force of media’s truth-telling that we can convincingly protect human rights in the world. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/09/03/myanmar-time-for-aung-san-suu-kyi-to-return-at-least-some-of-her-many-human-rights-awards/]

The fifth award winner is Mr Cayabyab, 65, who was recognised for “his compositions and performances that have defined and inspired Filipino popular music across generations”.

http://festival.rmaf.org.ph/?page_id=35

Two women human rights defenders in the Philippines honored with international awards

April 16, 2019

Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño (File photo by Noel Godinez/Northern Dispatch)
Filipina human rights defender, Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño, has been named as this year’s recipient of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Cariño is the founding secretary general and the current advisory council of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), regional council member of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and chairperson of SELDA-North Luzon, an organization of former political prisoners. For more on the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/gwangju-prize-for-human-rights

Cariño is among the 600 individuals listed in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) so-called terror list, which seeks to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations. Cariño, together with other activists who were included in the list, fought for the removal of their names and in January this year, the DOJ has acted by finally removing the names of scores of activists and human rights defenders in the Cordillera region. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/07/women-human-rights-defenders-day-2017-an-anthology/]

The Foundation recognizes Cariño’s track record as human rights defender from the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos up to the present. “She has been illegally arrested, detained and harassed for being tireless and vigorous in the indigenous people’s fight against militarization of their communities,” the Foundation said in their statement.

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Trade union worker France Castro was awarded the Arthur Svensson international Prize for Trade Union Rights [for more on this award, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/arthur-svensson-international-prize-for-trade-union-rights]

In its statement, the Svensson Foundation described Castro as a brave leader who defies threats and dangerous condition. “Despite threats and persecution, there are brave people fighting for democracy and human rights. The regime has particularly attacked unionists among teachers and journalists. Some are killed and many imprisoned. Death threats are not uncommon. In recent times, police officers in the Philippines have been running an organized campaign where they are herding and publishing information on unionized teachers,” Svensson Foundation said in a statement referring to the profiling of the public school teachers, particularly the members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Castro was also among those who were detained by the Talaingod police last November 2018, together with former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Lumad teachers, students and administrator, for defending Lumad’s right to education  The Foundation also took notice of Castro’s role in the fight for public school teachers’ rights and welfare.

https://www.bulatlat.com/2019/04/16/progressive-solon-wins-international-award-for-championing-union-rights/

One million $ for Waris Dirie and her fight against FGM

February 17, 2019

Some prizes come with serious money such as the 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize. On 9 February, 2019 PRNewswire reported that Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of the Korean Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) awarded one million dollars (USD) to this year’s Sunhak Peace Prize laureates, Waris Dirie and Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, as part of her philanthropic work. The biennial award honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the peace and welfare of future generations. The award ceremony took place on 9 February 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.

Waris Dirie, model and human rights activist, brought the violence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on the world stage by raising FGM as an international human rights issue and assisting in passing a UN resolution banning its practice. The Sunhak Committee acknowledged Waris Dirie’s achievements in advocating for the rights of millions of women and girls in Africa.

Thank you for your recognition. Thank you for everything that comes with it, this beautiful peace prize. It’s all I dreamed [of] as a child. All I wanted was peace and to receive this, this is a great gift to me…You giving me a peace prize, it’s because I believe in peace,” stated Ms. Dirie during the press conference.

As a victim of FGM herself, having been circumcised at the tender age of five in Somalia, she quit a successful career as a supermodel and dedicated the past 25 years to making FGM a recognized worldwide human rights crisis. She served as UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation from 1997 to 2003.

Her advocacy focuses on education as the fundamental key to eradicating FGM and empowering women and girls to have the knowledge they need to protect themselves. She emphasizes the fact that until women have equal respect, there cannot be lasting peace. In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation, an organization aimed at raising awareness of the dangers surrounding FGM. The Foundation raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia and supports the Zeitz Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable development and conservation. She also runs FGM reconstruction surgery centers in Europe. In January 2009, she started the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights, an organization founded along with French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek.

http://www.familyfed.org/

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2019-sunhak-peace-prize-awarded-to-waris-dirie-300792771.html

Call for Nominations: Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2019 and the Special Prize

December 7, 2018

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is pleased to announce the call for 2019 nominations for the following Prizes:

1. The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 50,000 USD.
2. The Special Prize of the GPHR (SPGPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 10,000 USD.

Since 2000, the Foundation has been bestowing the ‘Gwangju Prize for Human Rights’ to individuals, groups and institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work. Last year’s: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/18/award-winning-bersih-2-0-saw-speech-censored-by-taiwan-award-giver/

See also: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/gwangju-prize-for-human-rights

SPGPHR is for an individual or an organization that has contributed to the promotion of democracy and human rights through cultural activities, journalism, and in academic fields.  These prizes are awarded by the citizens of Gwangju in the spirit of solidarity and gratitude to those who have helped them in their struggle for democratization and their search for truth. It is hoped that through this award, the spirit and message of May 18 will be immortalized in the hearts and minds of humankind.

Selection of the GPHR and SPGPHR

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates and the choice of the GPHR and the SPGPHR laureates. The selection committee is composed of seven members who are designated by the May 18 Memorial Foundation’s Articles of Association. The rest of the procedure will abide by the Articles of Association.

Deadline: December 31, 2018 (by 24:00 Korea time)

Required Submission Documents
i) Nomination Form (Download the attachment)
ii) Two ID Pictures (paste them on the designated spots)
iii) Other materials that can substantiate your activities and eligibility for the award
iv) How & to Whom: Via E-mail to gwangjuprize@gmail.com

Submission Confirmation
E-mail confirming the receipt and validity of the submitted nomination will be sent out to the nominator once the submission is complete.


For more information, please visit http://eng.518.org/ or email to gwangjuprize@gmail.com.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/01/asian-peoples-charter-for-human-rights-needs-updating/

Korean people win Friedrich Ebert human rights award for candlelight rallies

October 18, 2017

Readers of this blog know my special interest in human rights awards. So you will understand my surprise to learn that the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has granted its 2017 Human Rights Award to all South Korean citizens (a total of 17 million!!) who took to the streets to protest against President Park Geun-hye for months and peacefully removed her from power.

Sven Schwersensky, resident representative at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s Korea office, talks about the Human Rights Prize during a press briefing Monday (Yonhap)

As Ock Hyun-ju reported in the Korea Herald of 16 October 2017: “The peaceful exercise of democratic participation and in particular the civic right of peaceful assembly are the essential components of democracy,” said Sven Schwersensky, resident representative in Korea. “In our view, the people’s candlelight demonstrations have given the whole world evidence of this important fact….At the time, authoritarianism was on the rise everywhere in the world, even in the western world,” he said, citing the UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai, who addressed the diminishing rights to public assembly and free speech under the former Park administration during his visit to Korea in 2016. “People of Korea showed resistance to authoritarianism.”

The organizing committee for candlelight demonstrations — an association of over 1,500 civic groups, labor unions and student organizations — took the prize on behalf of all Koreans. The committee received 20,000 euros ($23,590) in prize money. How the money will be spent has not been decided yet, it said.  The award ceremony will take place in Berlin on 5 December. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/11/12/friedrich-ebert-award-goes-to-fartuun-adan-from-somalia/]

More about the FES Human Rights Prize: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/friedrich-ebert-foundation-human-rights-award

Source: [Newsmaker] Koreans win global prize for candlelight rallies