Human Asia President Changrok Soh elected as the first Korean member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Changrok Soh, President of Human Asia, has been elected as the first Korean member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The election was held on September 17 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Changrok Soh received the support of 117 out of 173 member states of the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). Our President’s entry to the Human is particularly meaningful given the intense competition for the position, with 14 candidates for 9 empty seats. He is further the first Korean to be elected to the committee since Korea ratified the ICCPR, which is a core part of UN human rights mechanisms. The Human Rights Committee consists of 18 international human rights experts, who are responsible for monitoring and advising the implementation of ICCPR by state parties. The committee is a major human rights body that examines the implementation of each state parties of the rights mentioned in ICCPR including the right to life, freedom of body, freedom of conscience and religion, prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, etc. President Soh is a renowned human rights expert who serves as a Professor in Korea University’s Graduate School of International Studies, a member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, and its Working Group on Communications. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “Our government actively supports the entry and support of Korean professionals to international human rights mechanisms, as a part of our contribution to the protection and promotion of international human rights. We look forward to seeing how Professor Soh’s entry into the Human Rights Committee will further contribute to our efforts to protect and promote international human rights.” Human Asia strives to establish a regional human rights protection system which is presently absent only in the Asian region. We aim to achieve a peaceful coexistence based on the recognition of diversity in various parts of Asia. We will continue our efforts to achieve an open Asia free from any kind of discrimination and create a human-centered Human Asia. We greatly appreciate your participation and support in all our activities to create a true “Human” Asia.
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.
Final Research Report Session with UAEM Korea On Thursday 20 August, Human Asia hosted the Final Research Report Review session with UAEM Korea and our Expert Advisory Committee. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the final session was hosted online via Zoom. This year’s Advisory Committee consisted of: Professor Hye-young Kwon (Mokwon University), Professor Sylvia Park (Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs), Dr. Unni Karunakara (Yonsei University, Yale School of Public Health), and Director Seung-beom Hong (ISU Abxis). After introducing UAEM Korea’s advocacy activities throughout 2020, the students presented their research report ‘Access to Orphan Drugs in Korea: A Blind Point in the Korean Health System’ to Human Asia and the Expert Advisory Committee. The report explored weaknesses and potential solutions for the Korean health system in delivering healthcare for rare disease patients. Through three sections - ‘Supply’, ‘Affordability’ and ‘Role of Universities’, the research report focused on how to establish a sustainable supply system of orphan drugs; how to ensure affordable prices of orphan drugs, and what the roles of domestic universities in this issue may be in the future. Unreliable supply systems and high drug prices were deemed to hinder access to orphan drugs in Korea. To improve access, the students suggested that the Korean pharmaceutical industry and government should stimulate domestic production of orphan drugs while implementing policies that relieve the economic burden on patients: through changes within RSAs to guarantee coverage within the national health system, and implementation of a future Korea Orphan Drugs Fund. The paper reiterated that despite different people having different health needs, everyone should be guaranteed to their right to health. Therefore, although there may be potential economic incentives, the Korean pharmaceutical industry and the Korean government should shift their focus from profit alone, to meeting the health needs of the population through access to orphan drugs. We would like to thank our Expert Advisory Committee for providing their invaluable feedback via the Zoom session, and to UAEM Korea for all their hard work in producing this high quality report. Please check Human Asia’s website soon to read the complete research report on ‘Access to Orphan Drugs in Korea: A Blind Point in the Korean Health System.
Human Asia has now joined the Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC) in 2020 to promote more systematic and effective performance in human rights infrastructure development. The Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC) is an association of 140 NGOs engaged in international relief development and humanitarian aid activities. Founded in 1999, KCOC member organizations have more than 10,000 full-time employees, and have been carrying out projects worth about 7 billion won in 96 countries annually. ,As a member of KCOC, Human Asia will contribute to areas such as: - Improving accountability by complying with overseas development cooperation NGO code of conduct, - Promoting more effective program performance by forming a network with international NGOs operating around the world, - Strengthening the capacity of development cooperation personnel, - Sending World Friends NGO Volunteers, - Supporting various organisations, - Ensuring smooth communication when conducting KOICA-related projects; List of KCOC Members: http://ngokcoc.or.kr/theme/ngokcoc/03/member00.php
The 8th Global Human Rights School - The Jangmadang Generation: Young People & Human Rights in North Korea' On Saturday 15 August, Human Asia hosted the 8th Global Human Rights School under the theme of ‘The Jangmadang Generation: Young People & Human Rights in North Korea’. The guest speaker for this year’s event was Sokeel Park, South Korea Country Director at Liberty in North Korea (LiNK). Due to the spread of COVID-19, this year the school was held online via Zoom. After a brief introduction of Human Asia, the session kicked off with Sokeel Park’s lecture on the jangmadang generation. The presentation explored what life is like today for young people growing up in North Korea; the state of human rights violations in North Korea together with the international community’s response and the 2014 COI, and ongoing evolving changes within North Korea, particularly regarding the dissemination of foreign information, marketisation, the importance of the jangmadang generation, and cross border networks. Mr. Park also provided more details on his organisation LiNK, and how ordinary students across the world can act to support change in North Korea. The participating students then gave their own presentations on posters that they had made before the human rights school, based on LiNK’s documentary ‘The Jangmadang Generation’. Each student introduced themselves and described their interpretation of the documentary and the meanings behind their posters. Mr. Park then briefly gave his thoughts on the students’ work. Thank you again to all of our participants who joined us for this year’s Global Human Rights School. We hope to see you again next year!
[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