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2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Winners Announced

GPHR Winner Ms. Joanna K. Carino

The 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR) Jury has announced this year’s winners. The winner of the main prize is Ms. Joanna K. Carino of the Philippines. Ms. Carino is founder and an advisor of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and also a chairperson of the SELDA Northern Luzon.

Abandoning her professorship at the University of the Philippines Baguio, Ms. Carino started her field activist path when the Marcos dictatorship reached its climax. She was also one of the founders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance for the Defense of Ancestral Domain and Self Determination(CPA) in 1984 and has struggled for over 30 years to enhance indigenous peoples’ rights and protect their rights as well as for democracy and people’s liberation.

She took part in the Dialogue Asia in 1984 and led to the establishment of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and has participated in various networks, including the international Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation in 2010. She was also a key figure in the establishment of the SANDUGO, the national alliance of indigenous peoples and Moro people for Sefl-Determination in 2016.

Because of her tireless and vigorous struggles against the militarization of indigenous communities and various forms of human rights violations, she has suffered from many illegal arrests and detentions and surveillance along with physical threats. In February 2018, the Philippine government filed a lawsuit against 657 persons, including Ms. Carino and CPA leaders, for alleged terrorist acts and in October in the same year, President Duterte ordered the Department of Justice to pursue the proscription case.

Whatever the suppression, however, they failed to stop her continuing courageous actions, inspiring global citizens throughout the world, and thus was selected her as the winner of the 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

SGPHR Winner The Dialita Choir Group

The Jury has also selected the Dialita Choir group as the Special Prize winner of the 2019 Gwanju Prize for Human Rights. The Choir was established in 2011 by the survivors of the Indonesian Massacre between 1965 and 1966 and their family members.

Indonesia has a vibrant political history since its independence in 1945 with different ideologies and interest groups competing for power. This contention culminated in the September 1965 alleged failed coup d’etat which was followed by the purging of many Indonesians through extra-judicial seizure, torture, and executions. This purge effected hundreds of thousands of Indonesians and was never officially acknowledged by the government. Since then, survivors and their families continue to suffer deep stigma and discrimination.

Dialita uses its singing not just for self-healing but also to help their fellow survivors. Its songs convey a message of peace and solidarity, in the hope that it will educate the country of its forgotten past, in particular the young generation.

Dialita’s vision and performance impressed young local artists at the 2015 Yogyakarta Biennale’s opening ceremony who immortalized some of Dialita’s songs through an album, entitled “Dunia Milik Kita”, meaning “the world is ours” by Yesnowave, an independent production company that has many young followers. The launch of the album was followed by a concert in Yogyakarta in October the following year. The album and the concert were a collaboration between two generations, Dialita and young local musicians, vocalizing these historic songs with a more youthful spin, making it more approachable to audiences.

The 2019 GPHR Selection Committee believed that the May 18 Spirit is realized through the actions of Ms. Joanna K. Carino and the Dialita Choir group. It also highly appreciated the actions of Ms. Carino who has relentlessly fought against dictatorial governments regardless of multiple incarcerations and physical threats and the activities of the Dialita Choir that has shown the path to reconciliation and healing through their music, an inspiration to world citizens who yearn for peace and democracy.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation believes that today’s decisions will serve as a momentum to secure the solidarity between world citizens towards the development of democracy and the expansion of human rights.

April 15, 2019
2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Jury Members (In alphabetical order)
Chief: Lim, Seon-suk (Chair / The Gwangju Lawyers’ Association)
Members: An, Sung-un (Vice President / Busan Democratic Movement Memorial Association)
Cho, Young-sun (Secretary General / Attorney at Law)
Jeong, Jin-woo (Vice Chairman / Korea Democracy Foundation)
Jeong, Yeon-sun (Lawyer / Human Rights Foundation)
Lee, Cheol-woo (Chairman / The May 18 Memorial Foundation)
Song, Gapseok (National Assembly Member / The Democratic Party)