[EAYAN Program Online Event] Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) & Gender Equality: Creating Synergies and Cooperation between the EU and East Asia On Wednesday 5 August, Human Asia hosted our first virtual event for members of the 2020 East Asia Young Activists Networking (EAYAN) Program. Our final members for the 2020 EAYAN Program were selected in February, and originally were to meet at Human Asia’s EAYAN Program ten-day workshop in April 2020. However, due to the spread of COVID-19, the workshop unfortunately has been postponed for 2021. This online event therefore represented the members’ first opportunity to greet their fellow participants from South Korea, Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The theme for this event was ‘Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) & Gender Equality: Creating Synergies and Cooperation between the EU and East Asia’. Dr. Joëlle Hivonnet, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea, was the guest speaker for the session. The session began with an opening statement from Human Asia’s President, Changrok Soh. Each of the EAYAN Program participants then had the chance to introduce themselves briefly to one another. Following the self-introductions Dr. Joëlle Hivonnet then proceeded to give her presentation. After providing a brief overview of the importance and status of gender equality in 2020 and present EU and international legal instruments and conventions, Dr. Hivonnet moved on to look at some examples of EU-Asian partnerships. She additionally explored recent EU-ROK cooperation efforts to promote gender equality in South Korea. Participants were then given the chance to ask questions and express their own thoughts on future routes for increased East Asian CSO-EU cooperation. Dr. Hivonnet additionally had her own questions for the participants, including their own personal perspectives on the reasons for the lack of a regional human rights mechanism in Asia. President Soh concluded the session by reiterating that although shared cooperation between the two Koreas, Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan on human rights may seem impossible on a state-based level, through ongoing efforts with non-state actors and civil society, there is opportunity and reason for us to continue fighting towards this shared goal of human rights protection. Human Asia would like to express our gratitude to both our EAYAN Program members and to Dr.Joëlle Hivonnet for taking time out of their busy schedules to join this online event. We look forward to holding more virtual events for our EAYAN Program members in the near future. For more information on the East Asia Young Activists Networking Program please visit: www.eayan.org
Did you know that there are 385,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong?⠀⠀The mostly female migrant workforce in Hong Kong is employed largely in childcare and housekeeping. They added a staggering $12.6 billion to the economy in 2018.⠀⠀Our intern, Jeeeon Lee, explores some of the human rights issues for female migrant domestic workers living in Hong Kong in 2020. Check out the card news to learn more! ✨⠀
Korea has been considered as the country best in handling COVID-19. Its swift response of the coronavirus resulted from its efficient use of technology, excellent medical staff, and mature citizenship based on community spirit. These factors have greatly contributed to successfully combating COVID-19. Despite these successes, however, a myriad of subsequent problems have remained neglected and unsolved: including various types of discrimination against minorities and human rights violations. The Korea-EU CSO Network kindly invited Changrok Soh, President of Human Asia, to talk on his opinions on ICT technology and human rights amid the COVID-19 crisis. President Changrok Soh has experienced the national quarantine system, having previously been a COVID-19 confirmed patient. Along with his unique experiences of overcoming the coronavirus, President Soh talked about privacy violations and other controversial issues including social stigma and rampant discrimination against patients, and the use of electronic wristband with a tracking function to contain the further spread of COVID-19. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5r_MvMH8Dk&feature=youtu.be
Life in South Korea as an émigré This article is the personal account of the author Supan Chakma. Since I was old enough to remember, my mother has always said to me these three words: faith, confidence and judgment. Faith: Things that will resolve themselves. Confidence: In one’s own your ability. Judgment: Trust in one’s self and the system. These three strong words have led me through the easiest and most difficult decisions in my life almost with ease. My name is Supan Chakma. I was born on 1st October, 1992 at Babuchara, located at Dighinala Upazila, Bangladesh. Few months after my birth, my family had to escape and take shelter to neighboring state of Tripura, India as refugees due to an unfortunate incident that happened in the year 1993. On a newer world, my family had a difficult means of survival in a whole new other country where we were often teased and called as illegal immigrant and spent five years in refugee camp where we were struggling in building a new life. Looking back at those days, I can still imagine of growing up at a refugee camp along with two of my elder sisters. Believe me; it is as hurtful as those days when I think of those difficult but true moments. Inadequate food, unhygienic public sanitation, poverty and diseases were all we lived on and fought with. It was in the year 1998; my family had decided to return to Bangladesh for a better future. After escaping a genocide twenty six years ago which has not yet been recognized, and may never be, my parents instilled within me a burning ambition to succeed and make my circumstances my own. Difficult and never what one could call “normal,” my childhood memories are highlighted by embarrassment over my parents’ financial condition, shame over being an immigrant, shame over trying to hide it, losing out everything to the Army and stretches of poverty. The value of education is something that I have understood since a very young age. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to attend college, and faced many struggles in their personal and professional lives because of this. Even though, they made a commitment early in my life to do everything within their power to instil in me a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work and dedication. Because of their love and sacrifice over the years, I have been able to devote the time and energy necessary to academic accomplishment though money has always been tight. Having completed my primary education from an orphanage cum residential school in Bangladesh, I had an opportunity to complete my higher secondary as well as my graduation from India under the prestigious Indian government scholarship. The root cause of the CHTs crisis lies in the policies of the government of Bangladesh which seek to establish homogenous Bengali muslim society. This implies the destruction of the identity of the indigenous Jumma peoples. 'Jumma' is the collective name for the eleven tribes of the CHTs. Over the last 50 years, hundreds of thousands of Bengali settlers have been moved to the CHT. A long conflict between the indigenous people and the Bangladesh government has continued until 1997 which led to numerous heinous human rights violations, attacks, illegal land grabbing, and massacres. Ultimately, the "CHT Accord” (the CHT Peace Accord was signed on 2nd December 1997) which put a formal stop to the armed conflict. As per the CHT Accord, the promises of demilitarization, a new system of governance for indigenous people and a Land Commission to investigate and uphold indigenous land rights have not been kept. Almost 22years have passed since the accord was signed, still thousands of indigenous people remain landless and the area is effectively under military occupation. It is jeopardizing the life, land, culture, security, peace and development of the local indigenous Jumma people of CHT. My academic performance has been always on top of class. I contribute my grades to my diligence and motivation in the secondary high school. Since my childhood, I strongly feel that working to better society in a manner that utilizes one’s strengths for maximal effect is of the highest importance. It is somehow critical as members of a global society that we remain cognizant of the challenges that plague our fellow citizens, but this is not enough. We must take action to improve the condition of humanity through whatever skills we have. Believing this passion, I joined the movement with a regional party in Bangladesh. This was the only means to be able to contribute for my society. From the year 2010 to 2012; I have coordinated and worked with my party members by mobilizing citizens and distributing information through newspapers, radio, and mobile phones. I have participated in almost every demonstrations and rallies held in Chittagong Hill Tracts over the years, particularly in the Rangamati District. As an active member of one of the regional party, I have raised my voice against the Bangladesh government’s military system and the systematic ethnic cleansing. Simultaneously, after completing my Bachelor’s degree in 2015, I had resumed my political stint in the name of societal contribution with great pace as the situation back then was highly critical. In Bangladesh, our voice is suppressed by the government. It all started when I took part in students' protests against government abuses, and for my membership to the opposing party and my political opinions against the Government. I have worked in mobilizing the names against continuous land grabbing and human rights violations that made the military angry with me due to which they targeted me by false fabrication. Likewise, I became a soft target of the Bangladesh military and other forces. Thus, my history as a member of the opposing party made me a target and victim of Government violations of human rights. I have been personally detained twice before where I suffered excessive torture. In light of these human rights violations, I felt more unsafe to stay in the home country since then somehow at certain point of time; I could manage to leave my home country and moved cross-country to the South Korea almost two years ago. Unlike Bangladesh, I have never been so overwhelmed this much as I am in Korea- I love it here. It’s been almost two years, a home away home environment or more than that, I came to be a part of JPNK and giving back to the community in a positive way. Since my arrival in Korea, my identity is given respect and that means a lot to me. I believe that I would be able to adopt and learn in this great republic, liberal, secular and multicultural nation (Korea), and would contribute my potential to nation building in a very meaning full way. I have got this very plan to pursue my master’s degree from one of the reputed Korean university once I will be recognized by the Korean government. Therefore, I appeal to save my life from being persecuted and give me an opportunity to prove my worth as a faithful and recognized Korean citizen. Supan Chakma Bangladesh. Human Asia hopes that Supan’s story will spread awareness and concern about universal human rights issues; to feel a little closer to the lives of individual minorities and respect “human rights” as a dignified value in our lives rather than as an abstract concept. The value of education, parents devoted to improving their children’s lives, and persistently not giving up hope for a better society and life seems to resemble the familiar memories and imags of our own society.
South Korea has been reeling from a number of shocking digital sex crimes in the last few months. Sentences for convicted perpetrators remain questionably short.⠀⠀These incidents demonstrate the importance of constant attention and advocacy on gender issues and sex crimes. To explore more on this topic, check out "Dreaming of a Society Free from Digital Sex Crimes" by Hyeonjeong Kim here. ⠀
Ju Ryu! Ensemble (Together), 36 x 21 in, Acrylic Paint, 2020 Thank you so much to everyone who took part in our online art event. We still have lots of other online activities focusing on promoting human rights in Asia, so check our website to see more! Stay safe!
Webinar: Developing An Affordable And Accessible COVID-19 Vaccine: Where We Are Now Review - Jeeeon Lee (Human Asia Intern) On Friday 3 July, Human Asia hosted an online webinar entitled ‘Developing An Affordable And Accessible COVID-19 Vaccine: Where We Are Now’. This event was co-hosted with UAEM Korea and the Korean Association of Human Rights Studies. The guest speaker of this session was Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute. The webinar was held in English with Korean interpretation, and was viewed by attendees from around the world. The event opened with opening remarks from Changrok Soh, President of Human Asia and the Korean Association of Human Rights Studies, and Hannah Chang, President of UAEM Korea. Dr. Kim began his lecture by exploring the nature of coronaviruses in themselves; reminding us that with HIV/AIDS, the bubonic plague, smallpox and Spanish flu, COVID-19 is in no way the first pandemic that the world has experienced. After explaining how coronaviruses travel both between people and across countries, Dr. Kim then moved on to discuss ongoing questions about infection immunity and known unknowns regarding COVID-19. Dr. Kim explained the typical process and timeline of producing and licensing a vaccine (which ordinarily takes anywhere between five and ten years), and the situation for a COVID-19 vaccine. There are 150+ possible candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine, with 8 currently in human clinical testing (RNA or DNA, protein vaccines, vector vaccines and inactivated vaccines) and some signs of major milestones. Accelerating process will depend on how well we can derisk, with increased funds, time, and money. There are additionally some signs of progress within testing on animals, particularly monkeys. After explaining the basic work and mission of his organisation, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Dr. Kim explored the main challenges in distributing an accessible future COVID-19 vaccine to everyone. Major concerns, according to Dr. Kim, could include: ultranationalism, (vaccine imperialism, vaccine nationalism, vaccine security vaccine sovereignty) infodemics (urgency over objectivity, COVID conspiracies, unfiltered, unreviewed science) anti-science sentiments (rejectionism, vaccine hesitancy) and politics (partisanship, economic hardship). There could also be ‘enhanced disease’ issues after the SARS-1 and MERS challenges with vaccinated animals. Dr. Kim concluded his lecture with the following points. We will likely be able to develop a vaccine that works and that is safe, potentially within 12 to 18 months. On whether we will be able to make a vaccine of sufficient quantity with high quality and at an affordable cost, Dr. Kim answered perhaps - CEPI has identified global manufacturing at 10 billion doses a year. Dr Kim was also hopeful that a vaccine respecting access and equity could also be developed, as CEPI has Global Access Agreements and WHO have initiated processes to ensure accessibility and equity in allocating vaccine resources. The lecture session concluded after a Q&A session from the floor. For me, his webinar session served as a precious opportunity to grasp not only the current development progress of COVID-19 vaccine, but also the accessibility and equity of vaccine allocation. Moreover, I was also able to rethink the major challenges that we have encountered so far and may become obstacles when distributing COVID-19 vaccine in the future. Just like Dr. Jerome pointed out, the issues of ultranationalism, infodemics, anti-science sentiments, and politics will cause confusion in our society, posing a threat to the dissemination of the vaccine. However, after learning about the positive news regarding the advancement made by various organizations, including CEPI and WHO, I sincerely hope that everyone can have the access to the vaccine at an affordable cost in a near future. Written by Jeeeon Lee
The «2020 6th Korea Refugee Film Festival» was held from June 13th to June 27th. This year’s theme was ‘Beyond Distancing: We Are All Connected’. The festival was hosted by Human Asia with the help of the Korea Refugee Rights Network and the UNHCR Representative in the Republic of Korea. Due to COVID 19, this year’s KOREFF was held online. During the festival, we sold tickets to 7 films and festival merchandise through the KOREFF website. Participants were able to access 3 refugee-related Korean films and 4 UNHCR documentaries: No Probland (2019), The Breath (2017), Nowhere Man (2017), The Unforgotten (2019), Limbo (2017), The Displaced (2020), and Sanctuary (2019). Although the virtual film festival initially raised some concerns, it was a huge success with more than 200 participants. Human Asia will continue to raise the social awareness of refugees in Korea and overcome the “social distancing on refugees’ rights” through KOREFF. Thank you to all the participants of this year’s film festival and we highly encourage you to continue your interest and support for KOREFF.
Human Asia held an online workshop for the students of 『Community Leader Scholarship Program』 for two days of June 20th and 27th. Dr. Kim, Sung-ki, the professor of the Graduate School of Education at Hyupsung University gave the lecture on how to write a thesis effectively. Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, the workshop was held online only, but the students had a good time to learn more for thesis writing.
Happy World Refugee Day✨ Human Asia hopes that all kinds of discrimination and hatred against refugees across the world will be eliminated with love! #World Refugee Day #Withrefugees
Human Asia welcomes our new interns, who will be working with the Educational Development Team from June 2020. Yejin Son Hello! My name is Yejin Son, working as a Human Asia 2020 Project Intern. Growing up and living in India, I witnessed the importance of human rights awareness and the necessity of education to protect those who are persecuted and marginalised on religious, political, and cultural grounds. In college, I pursued my interest in human rights by majoring in International Studies, and hoped to work in protecting the rights of “people” affected by global trends and decisions made by the larger actors of the international system. I applied to Human Asia after learning about its human- centered approach, that focuses on educating, training, and supporting individuals to establish a human rights protection mechanism in Asia. Through the 2020 Project Internship, I hope to discover my role to play in meeting the challenges of human rights protection and contribute to the dream of an open Asia. Jeeeon Lee Hello, this is Jeeeon Lee. I will be working as an intern for Human Asia in 2020 summer. I was able to first work with Human Asia by participating in last year’s the 6th International Model United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR). By joining the I- model UN UPR, in which I could examine the human rights situations of UN member states and give recommendations, I was able to once again recognize the necessity to improve the human rights situations across the world. Therefore, I decided to work as an intern in Human Asia to gain the experience of working with human rights activists. Currently, due to COVID-19 crisis, there have been ongoing incidents in which human rights of individuals are being constantly threatened while the governments are taking hard responses to tackle the virus. Moreover, as we have learned from the recent George Floyd incident, racial discrimination still persists in our society. I believe in order to protect the human rights of every individual in our modern society, we need everyone’s constant effort and attention. By working as an intern in Human Asia, I would like to contribute myself to increasing human rights awareness by participating in various human rights advocacy activities and revealing human rights situations across the world.
Calling all of our young supporters! We invite high school students and undergraduates who are involved with our human rights advocacy activities to join Human Asia YOUTH. You can receive information regarding the events and activities of Human Asia YOUTH by adding us as a Kakaotalk Channel friend. (Human Asia YOUTH’s news will also be uploaded via Human Asia email announcements, on our homepage and SNS, etc.) ✨