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FORUM-ASIA attending the Gwangju Asia Forum 2015

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From 15-18 May FORUM-ASIA will be attending the Gwangju Asia Forum 2015. The Gwangju Asia Forum offers a platform for activists to share their experiences and discuss ways to strengthen the solidarity among people working for human rights, peace and the improvement of democracy in Asia. The Gwangju Asia Forum is organized every year by The May 18 Memorial Foundation at the May 18th Memorial Culture Center in Gwangju Metropolitan City. (

This year FORUM-ASIA will be involved in two events. The first will take place on 16 May (Saturday) from 14:00-18:00, will focus on ‘The Future of Human Rights in Asia – Emerging Challenges to Human Rights and Democracy Movement in Asia’ and is co-organized with the Asia Democracy Network (ADN). Meanwhile, the other will take place in the morning of 17 May (Sunday) on ‘National Security and Shrinking Democratic Space in Asia’ and is organised by the Solidarity for Democratization Movement in Asia (SDMA).

An important part of the Gwangju Asia Forum every year is the awarding of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. The prize promotes the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising of 1980 during which the people of Gwangju resisted brutal military forces for the sake of democracy and human rights. The May 18 Democratic Uprising helped in bringing democracy to Korea.

The prize goes to an individual or organization that has struggled for or contributed to the improvement and advancement of human rights, democracy and peace in their community and country. So far, thirteen prize winners including co-laureates and one organization have been awarded the prize.

Additionally, in 2011, The May 18 Memorial Foundation established the Gwangju for Human Rights Special Prize. Every two years the Special Prize goes to one individual or an organization that works for the improvement of human rights in the field of journalism, culture, literature or others.

This year the West Papua-based Indonesian human rights lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, has won the Gwangju Human Rights Award. The special award will be given to Sombath Somphone, a respected and reknown civil society activist and founder of the Participatory Development Training Center (PADETC), whose lifelong work focused on empowering and training the youth of Laos, promoting quality education, and ecologically sustainable development especially in poor rural communities in Laos. Sombath was disappeared on 15 December 2012, shortly after he had helped organise the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) – the first and largest ever international civil society gathering in Laos in October that year. FORUM-ASIA, together with various other organisations, has been campaigning for his safe return since his disappearance in 2012. The award ceremony will be held from 16:00 on 18 May at the May 18th Memorial Center.

FORUM-ASIA will be sharing further information about the different events through its website and social media.