Urge the United Nations to conduct an immediate investigation on gross human rights violations in Myanmar Sign the petition here Human Asia seeks to protect human rights in a holistic and inclusive Asia where anyone and everyone can live freely in democracy; without persecution based on who they are or where they live. We are deeply unsettled by the unrest that is rapidly unfolding and escalating in Myanmar since the Tatmadaw armed forces staged a coup against the democratic government on February 1, 2021. At least 714 people have been killed in the security forces' brutal crackdown on pro-democracy peaceful protesters across the country, with the actual number of fatalities predicted to be much higher. UNICEF has reported that these deaths include at least five children, with many others exposed to harm from tear gas and stun grenades, and horrific scenes of violence. Over 1,700 people, including 500 minors and children, have further been arbitrarily arrested and detained. These acts of blatant violence and abuse of power are crimes against humanity. Despite being one of the first UN Member States to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, authorities in Myanmar are now violating numerous articles including the right to life (Article 3), the ban on arbitrary detention (Article 9), the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19), and the right to freedom of assembly and and association (Article 20). Human Asia therefore asks for your signature to support our official letter which we will submit to the UN. This will 1) call upon the UN to conduct an immediate in-depth investigation into ongoing human rights violations in Myanmar and 2) urge the UN to to intervene in Myanmar with a peace keeping force. Your signature in this form will be used to demonstrate South Korea’s refusal to accept crimes against humanity in Myanmar within a future letter addressed to the UN. The letter will be emailed to all signatories who complete this form by May 2, 2021. Thank you.
Supporting North Korean students to take the TOEIC exam Human Asia would like to share some happy news with our supporters.ETS Korea has offered free TOEIC exams for North Korean refugee students based in South Korea, to support them in improving their English language skills.We hope this can help the North Korean students’ studies and contribute towards their bright futures. Human Asia will also work harder to help North Korean defectors settle in South Korea.We are sincerely grateful to ETS Korea for their generous donation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
'Beyond COVID-19: Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Asia’ Access to Medicines (A2M) Forum On Friday 5 March, Human Asia hosted an offline/online international forum under the title ‘Beyond COVID-19: Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Asia’. The event was co-hosted together with UAEM Korea and the Korean Association of Human Rights Studies. The forum aimed to facilitate dialogue between medical experts, government and pharmaceutical representatives, international organizations, and civil society on current and potential challenges to equitable access to medications in the Asia-Pacific region. It explored how Korea and other countries in Asia are working towards operationalizing commitment to COVID-19 vaccines as a public good, whilst also examining routes for collaborative action on a regional level to ensure that the needs of non-COVID-19 patients and populations are met. We would like to thank all of our esteemed speakers for taking part and our audience, both those who joined us offline and those who attended virtually from around the world. Human Asia will continue to work towards creating a world where everyone can access the medicines they need. Please see the attached file for the forum materials, and check the links below to rewatch the forum. 1. Beyond COVID-19: Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Asia Part I (Morning) 2. Beyond COVID-19: Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Asia Part 2 (Afternoon) ⇧ Forum MCs: Kaeun Kim (UAEM Korea), Jiyoung Kim (UAEM Korea) ⇧ Opening Remarks: Changrok Soh (Member, UN Human Rights Committee; President, Human Asia; Professor, Korea University) ⇧ Welcoming Speech 1: Deok-Cheol Kwon (Minister of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea) ⇧ Welcoming Speech 2: Roxana Bonnell (Senior Program Advisor Public Health Program, Open Society Foundations) ⇧ Keynote Speech: Thierry Coppens (General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières MSF Korea) ⇧ Session 1 Moderator: Dr Jacob Lee (Associate Professor, Hallym University College of Medicine; Professor of Infectious Diseases, Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital) ⇧ Session 1 Presentation 1: Dr. Mariângela Simão (Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, World Health Organization; WHO) ⇧ Session 1 Presentation 2: Roxana Bonnell (Senior Program Advisor Public Health Program, Open Society Foundations) ⇧ Session 1 Presentation 3: Sinhye Ha (External Relations Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières MSF Korea) ⇧ Session 2 Moderator: Dr Hye-Kyung Park (Director, Korea Institute for Pharmaceutical Policy Affairs; Research Professor, Sungkyunkwan University School of Pharmacy) ⇧ Session 2 Presentation 1: Dr In-Kyu Yoon (Vaccine Development Project Leader, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; CEPI) ⇧ Session 2 Presentation 2: Sylvia Park (Head of Center for Pharmaceutical and Food Policy Research, Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs; KIHASA) ⇧ Session 2 Presentation 3: Seung-Beom Hong (Team Leader Lead Validation Team, Isu Abxis) ⇧ Q&A ⇧ Session 3 Moderator: Sun Kim (Director of Health Policy Research Center, People's Health Institute (PHI) South Korea; Regional Coordinator, People's Health Movement (PHM) South East Asia & Pacific (SEAP) ⇧ Session 3 Presentation 1: Dong-gun Lee (Director, Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society) ⇧ Session 3 Presentation 2: Dr Clive Ondari (Director for Health Product Policy and Standards, World Health Organization; WHO) ⇧ Session 3 Presentation 3: Hassan Damluji (Deputy Director of Global Policy & Advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) ⇧ Q&A ⇧ Closing Speech: Dr Joo-Young Lee (President, Korean Association of Human Rights Studies; Advisor, Seoul National University Human Rights Center)
In the Same Boat: Korean Language Camp for Refugee Children You might have seen Human Asia's posts on our website and SNS sites during February on the 'In the Same Boat: Korean Language Camp for Refugee Children' program. With Human Asia's support, KoRe Edu successfully completed the two week long Korean language education camp for resettled refugee children based here in Korea. This project supported children from Myanmar living in the Gyeonggi-do area of Gimpo. Thankfully, the children that participated showed a low of enthusiasm and passion for learning the Korean language. Shall we take a look at how they got on? Here, the children are putting together Korean characters using colourful consonants and vowels. After putting the Korean characters together, they shared the contents of what they have wrote together with the other children. They also solved quizzes while writing letters using individual whiteboards. They got the answers quickly and started writing in Korean in no time, thanks to the help of the KoRe Edu teachers. What do you think the children are doing in this photo? Through the 'Make My Own Currency' activity, the children learned about the concept of Korean currency. They had a fun time learning about what purchasing items in Korea is like. Once they learned how to use it, the children then drew their own currency. Quiz time! All of the children in the camp were eager to answer and kept raising their hands to answer the questions first! In another special activity, the children went ‘camping’! They used the school tables to make a camping site, and the children and the teachers had a quiet chit-chat together. In addition to these creative activities, here we can see the children studying hard with their Korean workbooks. The children in the pictures are solving academic problems, drawing pictures and learning Korean. Although the program was only two weeks long, this educational program helped the children to improve their basic Korean language skills a lot. To stay up to date with Human Asia's educational activities, please show us your continued interest and support in the future. Thank you! *This educational program was conducted in compliance with local social distancing recommendations.
[EAYAN Program Online Event] Women’s Access to Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare during COVID-19 in Asia Pacific On Friday 26 February, Human Asia and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) East and South East Asia and Oceania Region co-hosted an exclusive online event for EAYAN Program members. The theme for the session was ‘Women’s Access to Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare during COVID-19 in Asia Pacific’. EAYAN Program Members from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea were joined by Ms. Natassha Kaur, Senior Officer of Advocacy & External Relations at IPPF. The session began with each member introducing themselves, their preferred pronouns, their current area of focus within their academic and professional fields, and their favourite foods. Ms. Kaur gave a presentation which covered definitions of sexual and reproductive health and rights, the impact of COVID-19 on access to contraceptives and abortion, mental health services for women, the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals to having families, IVF, and more. The session was held in an interactive style, with EAYAN Program members and Human Asia pausing throughout the presentation to discuss points raised and their own ideas further. There was also a quiz on rights to reproductive health across the world today. We would like to thank Ms. Kaur for her time and look forward to working with IPPF with EAYAN Program members again in the future. For more information on the EAYAN Program, please visit www.eayan.org.
UAEM Korea have officially launched their YouTube channel! The YouTube channel, produced with support from Human Asia, aims to increase public knowledge and awareness of medical access and innovation issues in South Korea while maintaining social distancing, through the creation of engaging and professional video content. The first video is a brief overview of UAEM so far as an organisation, who are continually striving to increase accessibility to medicines and make sure medical ‘cures’ really are cures for all. The second video is the first episode in UAEM Korea’s Humans of Medicines series. The first episode is entitled ‘Lives on the Line: The Fight Against Drug Pricing’. This series covers interviews with domestic advocates on A2M issues; particularly with people who have experienced real life consequences with lack of access to medicines. The first interviewee is Mr. Kang Juseong, (former President at Health Right Network), who rose as one of the first A2M activists in South Korea following the debate over pricings for Gleevec, a medical treatment for chronic leukemia.We ask that you show your support for UAEM Korea’s YouTube channel and actively watch their videos. Please also leave (encouraging!) comments and subscribe to their channel. Thank you!
2021 Human Asia Global Human Rights School – Envisioning the Post-COVID-19 World through UN On 20 February 2021, Human Asia hosted its first Global Human Rights School of the year under the theme, ‘Envisioning the Post-COVID-19 World through UN’. The guest speaker for the event was Oh Joon, the Professor at Kyung Hee University (current Chair of Save the Children Korea and Special Advisor of Human Asia, former South Korean Ambassador to the UN). Due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the session was held online via Zoom and a total of 104 young people participated in the event. After a brief introduction to Human Asia, the session began with Professor Oh Joon’s lecture on the post-COVID-19 era and the issues encountered by the international community and the UN. The session covered how the world after the pandemic would look like, the short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19, and the role of the UN in global governance. Professor Oh Joon emphasized the importance of strengthening global governance and raised some pressing issues that need to be addressed by the UN. We thank all of our participants who joined us for the Global Human Rights School and we look forward to seeing you again in the next session! Thank you.
EUM Research Institute Inauguration Ceremony 1On 29 December, Human Asia attended the EUM Research Institute Inauguration Ceremony via Zoom. Human Asia is supporting the establishment of the EUM Research Institute under our CLS Scholarship program, with several of our past and present students being involved with the institute’s research. EUM Research Institute is a research organisation composed of North Korean researchers with specialised knowledge and capabilities in various academic fields. Most of the researchers at this centre have experienced both the North and South Korean regimes, and therefore, above all else, pursue the principles of human dignity and democracy. The researchers combined their experiences in North Korea and their knowledge accumulated in South Korea to help them prepare for peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula.After the respective staff members and supporters of the institute (including Human Asia’s Secretary-General Jeongum Choi) introduced themselves, the ceremony covered the background and inspiration behind the creation of the institute and its future plans for its official commencement in 2021. We wish the EUM Research Institute the best of luck with all its activities in the upcoming year.
On December 17, 2020, the Jeongam Foundation and Human Asia held the 2020 Global Vision Scholarship Award Ceremony. The Jeongam Foundation runs the Global Vision Scholarship Program every year to improve financial support for humanities and social sciences with a particular focus on human rights. This scholarship program, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, selects excellent students as scholarship recipients so that students can participate in establishing and contributing to the regional human rights protection system in Asia. The Jeongam Foundation and Human Asia will continue to empower and support talented students who will contribute to advocating and promoting human rights at the regional, national and global levels. Human Asia will work arduously to ensure respect for human rights not only across Asia but also worldwide. We would like to congratulate the scholarship recipients and express our sincere gratitude to all those who applied to our scholarship program.
Human Asia organized the forum titled ‘Business and Human Rights: Trends and Challenges' at the Novotel Ambassador Dongdaemun Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on December 4, 2020 in tandem with the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. The forum, which was the first-ever to be co-hosted by the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, provided a space to facilitate discussion for both state and business enterprises to more effectively implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and enhance corporate responsibility. As the supply chain of companies has recently expanded overseas due to ongoing globalization, the issue of human rights management by business enterprises has emerged as an international agenda. The roles and responsibilities of business enterprises and governments for human rights management are being consequently growing in importance and being internationally emphasised. Accordingly, in South Korea, the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea signed a MOU on May 26 to promise mutual cooperation for the domestic growth of effective human rights management, so that human rights management can further grow and be realized in private companies beyond state-owned enterprises. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, all overseas and some domestic speakers attended online. General attendees also attended online. Sign language interpretation was provided and the forum material book was produced with VOICEYE (voice-speaking) embedded for enhanced access. In Session 1, moderated by Sang-Soo Lee (Professor of the Graduate School of Law at Sogang University and Executive Director of the Asia Business and Human Rights Center), activists from international civil society groups were invited to discuss various cases of human rights abuses and violations in business operations. In Session 2, moderated by Changrok Soh, (President of Human Asia, Member of the UN Human Rights Committee on Civil and Political rights and Professor of the Graduate School of International Studies at Korea University), experts and government officials were invited to discuss international trends in business and human rights. Additionally, Seryeon Ryan Song, (Professor of the Graduate School of Law at Kyung Hee University and Executive Director of the Asia Business and Human Rights Center) emphasized the necessity of establishing a stand-alone National Action Plan (NAP) on business and human rights, and legalizing mandatory human rights due diligence. Following this, Minwoo Kim (Research Professor at the International Human Rights Center of Korea University and Managing Director of the Asia Business and Human Rights Center) presented an analysis of the disclosure status of the human rights impacts assessment reports by state-owned enterprises, which was conducted by the Asia Business and Human Rights Center for the last three months. In addition, he emphasized that an increasing number of state-owned enterprises have been carrying out human rights management on the basis of the manual published by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Changrok Soh promised to resolve the relevant issues discussed in this forum through the Asia Business and Human Rights Center housed at Human Asia and emphasized the need for the direction and consistency of government policies.
UAEM Korea Monthly Opinion Column UAEM Korea contributed their first article for their monthly column in the Korean newspaper 'NGO News' on November 23, 2020, entitled “No One is Safe, Until Everyone is Safe”. In this article, UAEM urged South Korea to send more active support and participation in the COVAX facility. See below for a summary of the article in English, or click here to read the original article in Korean. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Moderna have claimed that their phase 3 clinical trials show up to 90% vaccine efficacy. As it seems that the development of the COVID-19 vaccine is finalized, the global community is now seeing a first glimmer of hope to an end of COVID-19. However, the phenomenon known as “vaccine nationalism” has now begun to emerge with high-income countries hoarding vaccines and their components for production. This, in turn, is leaving out middle-income and low-income countries with poor purchasing power. To alleviate the inequality in vaccine distribution according to purchasing capacity, international organizations related to public health, including the World Health Organization (WHO), jointly launched the COVAX Facility (COVAX). However, COVAX is far below the funding target - 2 billion USD - which is required by the end of this year for stable supply. In terms of short-term economic gains and losses, there may be questions about the justification of supporting COVAX. While this may be true, in the long run, active investment is still required in COVAX as it may be an opportunity to build the infrastructure to prevent further pandemic(s). In this situation of world crisis, the ROK needs to provide proactive domestic and international support, and participate actively. Korea has led a successful response against COVID-19, earning the title of “K-방역 (Korean Response to Disease Prevention)”. But we need to keep in mind that “No one is safe, until everyone is safe,” as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus put it. Korea is indeed contributing to the international efforts to combat COVID-19, such as actively helping the effort to develop and secure vaccines. However, when comparing with the neighboring Japan, it appears that other countries are trying to contribute more to the international eradication effort. Japan has donated 130 million USD to COVAX AMC, which is 13 times what Korea contributed (10 million USD). The Republic of Korea should contribute and even more actively participate in the international effort to eradicate COVID-19. While keeping in mind the short-term and long-term benefits of COVAX, Korea should help vaccine development, and make more efforts to close the inequality gap in vaccine supply between high and middle/low-income countries.
Human Asia & UAEM Korea Visit MSF Korea On Tuesday 17 November, Human Asia and UAEM Korea paid a visit to MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières; Doctors Without Borders). During the meet, after everyone introduced themselves to one another, the students and Human Asia received expert consulting from MSF on the A2M movement along with current domestic issues, and spoke about different ways to cooperate on improving domestic awareness on A2M. Thank you again to MSF Korea for kindly hosting us. We look forward to working with you more in the future.
UAEM Korea: First YouTube Shooting On Saturday 14 November, Human Asia and UAEM Korea met Mr. Kang Juseong (Advisor, Kanghan Law, Former President, Health Right Network) in a studio in Sinsa to film the first video for UAEM Korea’s upcoming YouTube channel. Mr. Kang is noted as one of the first A2M activists in South Korea following the Gleevec/Novartis case in the early 2000s. Disputes over Gleevec started with the marketing authorization of the medicine in Korea in 2001. In May 2001, Novartis asked that Gleevec’s price be set in South Korea at US$ 2,400/month, using as reference prices the wealthier A7 countries (US, UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan and Italy). The Korean National Health Insurance decided to set the price of Gleevec at 17,862 KRW per pill (US$ 14) or 2,143,440 KRW per month (US$ 1,680), prompting Novartis to retract plans to enter the South Korean market. Mr. Kang had fought for democracy under South Korea’s authoritarian regime and later fell ill to leukemia. He started a fight for a more public interest-oriented medicines governance and appropriate counter-balance to the industry weight. He went on to be the founding president of the Korea Leukemia Patients group.Thanks in large part to his leadership, civil society organizations and patients kept the pressure up and demanded in 2002 that the government issue a compulsory license (CL) for Gleevec. Back-and-forths continued between the government and Novartis, but in the spring of 2002, the Korean government gave into Novartis’ demands and approved a price of 23,045 KRW, a mere 10% discount on what had been demanded by the company. In March 2003, the Korea Industry Property office dismissed the request of CL for Gleevec. Though this battle was lost, the A2M movement in Korea was born.UAEM Korea’s upcoming YouTube video will include Mr. Kang’s thoughts on greater access to health care for patients under Korea's health insurance, access to Gleevec for leukemia patients,and student activism on A2M. Mr. Kang was also kind enough to talk to the students about their work and A2M in Korea after the interview. We would like to thank Mr. Kang for filming the video with us and wish him good health, and ask everyone to watch the upcoming YouTube video!* Masks were worn throughout the shooting and removed only for photographs.
The 2020 4th Human Rights English Essay Competition Presentation Ceremony Presentation 1: Second Runner Up'Racism and Xenophobia in the age of COVID-19: crafting a global response to counter the rise in discrimination' - TaeHwan Alexander Kim On Monday 28 September, Human Asia hosted the Presentation Ceremony for the 2020 4th Human Rights English Essay Competition. The ceremony was held virtually via Zoom, and was attended by participants of the competition, the top three entries, UAEM Korea students, Human Asia, and our guest judges - Daniel Connolly (Assistant Professor, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies) Buhm-Suk Baek (Professor, Kyung-Hee College of International Studies) and Sinhye Ha (External Relations Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières). Presentation 2: First Runner Up'COVID-19 and Human Rights: A Viral Illness Reveals Societal Ills' - Hyoim ShinAfter some words of welcome from Human Asia’s President Changrok Soh, the judges began the event by providing some general feedback on the top ten entries for the competition. Each of the top three entries - TaeHwan Alexander Kim (Second Runner Up) Hyoim Shin (First Runner Up) and Seokhwan Park (Grand Prize Winner) - then gave a presentation on their essay entries. The judges provided more detailed feedback and areas to improve upon for future academic research essays.Presentation 3: Grand Prize Winner'Human Rights and the Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines' - Seokhwan ParkPlease see the attached file above to read the winning essay:Human Rights and the Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines Seokhwan Park Abstract: This paper highlights the importance of developing a system for the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Although the rate of development of COVID-19 vaccines has increased greatly, discussion of how to achieve an equitable distribution of vaccines to ensure everyone’s safety has yet to transpire. Previous studies have evaluated the equity of the distribution of vaccines during the H1N1 pandemic in 2011 and suggested that the inequitable distribution of vaccines poses a risk to the residents of poor regions and widens the gap between the poor and the rich on a global scale. The already active financial race to develop COVID-19 vaccines among wealthy nations generally excludes less wealthy nations from participation in the early stages of vaccine distribution, including price negotiation. Given the high level of medical urgency, nations are likely to prioritize domestic medical needs, leading to nationalism. Therefore, wealthy nations should provide greater political leadership. To do so, the WHO and other international organizations need to place increased political pressure on the most dominant countries. In addition, more flexibility in intellectual property laws and an effective data sharing system can effectively prevent vaccines from becoming monopolized by a few nations. Continuous political negotiations will develop practical solutions, such as tax exemptions and government subsidies for manufacturing companies, that can be applied immediately. Thank you again to everyone who took part in the event.
The 15th Teenage Human Rights School: Drug Accessibility and Human Rights On Saturday 26 September, Human Asia hosted the 15th Teenage Human Rights School under the theme ‘Drug Accessibility and Human Rights’. UAEM Korea acted as the guest speaker for this session. The event was originally planned to be held offline in May 2020; however, with COVID-19 the event was held online in September instead. 20 middle and high school students virtually participated in the event. The first half of the school consisted of a one hour lecture from UAEM Korea, covering: the development process and price markups of essential medicines; accessibility to essential medicines and human rights, marketing strategies from pharmaceutical companies, and crisis inequalities within the COVID-19 context. The participants were then separated into four breakout rooms to hear the participants’ thoughts both on the lecture context and on the pre-assigned book review on Chapter 3 from the book ‘Take 30 Minutes After Eating’. A representative from each group then shared these thoughts with all the participants at the end. Thank you again to everyone who participated in the school.
TBS EFM Radio Interview with UAEM Korea On Wednesday 9 September, Human Asia (Chloe Sherliker, Program Officer) and UAEM Korea (Soyeon Park, Hyunsu Kim) spoke on TBS EFM’s Life Abroad ‘Making Connections’ series, on the topic ‘COVID-19 Vaccine: Affordability and Availability’, with Na Seung-yeon. The 25 minute segment covered how UAEM Korea students’ lives have changed during the current pandemic; UAEM and UAEM Korea’s history and mission; Human Asia’s work and role in supporting UAEM Korea, and how to ensure that a future COVID-19 vaccine will be affordable and accessible for all. The UAEM Korea students noted that the main challenges of making a future COVID-19 vaccine affordable and accessible to all relate to supply and demand respectively. Regarding supply, the students observed that in theory, the current monopoly-based patent system incentivizes private sector investment and allows private drug corporations to make a reasonable return on their investment. However, in practice, this patent system is often abused; while the current system gives drug companies the right to patent monopolies, it doesn’t require them to sell medicines at fair prices. Additionally, from the perspective of demand, the students suggested that the lack of prior research and investment towards coronavirus from pharma companies would be another challenge to overcome in creating an accessible vaccine. We would like to again thank TBS EFM for hosting Human Asia and UAEM Korea on their channel. Click here to listen to the episode again.