#Chapelhill is About Peace (and brotherhood movement)= CHAPS

Deah with, from left, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha

in a Facebook image.

Let’s all be chaps. I mean friends,not some division of the underpaying, overcharging Ralph Lauren Polo products. First, another prayer (we all pray to the same God ok?) for Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; her husband, Mr. Barakat, 23; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

The real enemies, if anyone at all, are those decimating the earth, getting a major profit from the hard work of underpaid labor in Asia, South America, and, um the USA, not to mention India and the Middle East in Specific.

People of all denominations and spiritual beliefs need to come together to save the earth, demand a living wage, replace the hogs at the top of the status quo, and use democracy (when available) to change the laws to create a system of social safety nets and RESOURCE PRESERVATIION everywhere from the Amazon rain forests to the entire oceans of the world.

Why not take the world’s massive underemployed and unemployed population and have them scoop plastic out of the ocean.

Why not ban plastic, not just plastic bags?  What’s wrong with glass?

The chance now, to not just honor the lives of the victims, but to use this to unite EVERYONE on the planet in a movement to save the planet and create *peace* for everyone not just the gated community people.

For international reader: There is no place better than Chapel Hill to start an NGO, to start an activist movement, to take back the planet for everyone.

Massive changes of laws must occur for this to work out. GATT 2, GATT 1,NAFTA and almost any other free trade agreement is set up to profit from cheap labor.

Labor unions which brought us the best pay and best working conditions and best lives possible, are now powerless as any strike can be met with “ok then we will just move the entire line of manufacturing abroad.”  No More strike ,and no more jobs at all in the USA.

Everyone except the shareho0lder class has been hurt by these pernicious WTO rules which supplant national sovereignty with “all-the-money-to-the-rich” schemes that resemble feudalism.

Fundamentalsim is scary in the Christian world and not exactly helpful anywhere else.  Fundamentalism means “my way or the hiway” or “my way or death to infidels” but that means perpetual war, and the USA has attacked 91 times since World War II, notably in Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Serbia, Iraq (1,2,3) Afghanistan, Pakistan, (where next, Ukraine or Korea again?)

As an American I’m willing to give up my time to prove that as human beings we are as nice as anyone else, and that it is our GOVERNMENT that smells out loud.

This is true for everyone I’ve met either on the International Peace Walk in Russia in 1987 and again in the USA in 1989 or in my work in South Korea, or in the 31 other countries I’ve been in.

But this is about the movement, that should be larger than Occupy because the goals are even more radical in the face of this divided world.  DO NOT LET THE BIG WIGS AT THE TOP DIVIDE US ANY LONGER!

It’s our PLANET, God help us make CHAPS a reality.

Genocide, Slavery, Greed

We cry for the slavery that led to such wealth,

This is not just  the land of the free.

We witness genocide all over this earth.

What can we do to end greed?

We cry for the land, full of modified crops

We must work to save human life.

What will our grandchildren have to live through

Since our appetite causes such strife?

The oil wars that started a decade ago

Have moved toward the Caspian Sea.

We are the dissidents, loud, without fear,

Even if we are cut at the knees.

We cry for the news they keep off TV,

The grapevine could snap any day.

Disinformation is the age we live in,

So who’s going to show us the way?

The answer is simple, we grow as a team,

A new brotherhood in the light.

We must build the village, invite all your friends,

This is no time to give up the fight!

They have all the bombs, the juntas abound,

Monsanto is spraying the poor.

We must dig our hands into arable land

Or genetics will foul every spore.

Profit mongers have sucked the earth dry,

We must reclaim all that we can.

Industrial China, the last frontier,

Soon money will own every man.

The kids on the streets are locked-down together,

Push a bike, and you could get ten years!

All this is forced because we stopped caring,

Yet some offer blood, sweat and tears.

We couldn’t stop bosses from shipping our jobs,

The replacement is for-profit jails.

Our schools are rotting, so teach if you can,

Where it counts, not Harvard or Yale.

The time is upon us, united as friends

We can make anything grow.

Come join the party, sing and dance all the day,

Tomorrow we get out the vote.

We cry for the genocide, slavery, greed

That persists after thousands of years.

It’s late, but there’s time, if we really work hard

We can stop the torrent of tears.

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Harold Lear’s Swan Song

Lear Dancer Lear passes Microphone to Norbert Lear Sings

Harold Lear’s Swan Song

Dr. Bob and the Disco Beaver played its last show ever at Speakeasy on March 6.  It was packed like sardines, which was appropriate, since many were initiated as “Honorary Newfoundlanders” by “kissing the fish” and slamming an insane Canadian whisky named “Screech,” at the end of the night.

Also onstage was the G-Jay band, with a recently revamped line up of Tim Crawford (saxophone), Norbert Morvan (vocals and MC “Royale”), Tony Boyd (bass), Gordon MacKay (guitar), Caleb MacIvor (keys, vocals, songwriter, originator, bandleader, task master and booking agent), Ed McEntee (drums), and Carlos Gentile (percussion).

The packed bar had barely enough room for dancers to improvise.  Couples were spotted doing the Mashed Potato, the Bus Stop, and the dance that has made Speakeasy famous, the “your-place-or-mine?”  And who could resist a swing around the dance floor with the blues-driven, hard-driving guitar riffs of Harold Lear and his accomplished band?

You could see the emotion of playing his last gig in Korea on Harold’s face, but he scored a tenured professorship in New Brunswick, Canada, and could not resist teaching sociology, though his PhD is in Eastern Philosophy. “My masters degree is in sociology, so it’s not a big stretch,” he said with his characteristic smile.  His music and merry-making will be much missed.  He named the night “Saturday Mayhem,” and it was not shocking that many who knew him from his latest stint in Suncheon made the trek to bid him adieu.

Not to be outdone (except notably on drums and guitar) the G-Jay band also got our feet moving, as Norbert toasted the crowd, and the band played funk, reggae and rock numbers from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as Caleb’s soulful originals.  You couldn’t be faulted for thinking this band was formed at a catholic church, what with the Macs and Mcs, and it turns out bassist Tony Boyd hails from Scotland itself, thus not one of the millions that are part of the Irish and Scottish Diaspora.

As a music critic, I’d pick Tim Crawford as the undisputed star of the G-Jay band.  His sax riffs began halfway through the Disco Beaver’s first set (he was in the upstairs pool room, or precisely, in the kitchen/storage room next to it at the time).  His runs, more Charlie Parker than Eric Dolphy, kept going non-stop, except for a brief breathing period to walk downstairs and set his microphone height.  Did he “warm up” during the stage preparation? Yes.  Did his hyperkinetic, beautiful, lyrical alto sax solos continue through everything but other solos?  Indeed.  Was it a distraction to Norbert’s singing? I think not.  Why not?  Because Crawford is good.  Very good.

You can tell these guys love having a gig outside the realm of teaching English, as the pre-show banter was flowing like earth-rumbling splashes emanating from Viagra Falls.  “One night we had a small crown, maybe 12 people, but all 12 were dancing. One dude fell, broke our mike stand and knocked himself out.  We picked him up and he kept dancing,” McIvor said.  “We’ve made it into a Korean documentary, and play just about everywhere we can find.  On the originals I write the music, and Norbert writes the words…the songs grow organically.”

Many of the members are “lifers” in Korea, meaning, once they arrived here and discovered the gentle culture, sincere friendships and positive working conditions, they stayed for life.  Three are married, four are Canadian, two are from the US and one is Scottish.  They play out of Jeon Ju.  “Being right in the middle of the peninsula is an advantage when it comes to playing gigs all over the country,” MacIvor said.  He also said there were no “real leaders” in the band, and that they are “living the dream,” by being able to play so often.

“We changed a lot of songs this year, with new members.  Everyone brings in ideas for cover songs and then I shoot them down,” MacIvor said, laughing.  “We have an advantage because we can play sets of covers with just three members, so we’re flexible in case some people are too tied up to make a gig.”

Dr. Bob and the Disco Beaver played near-perfect renditions of classics like the James Gang’s “Funk 49,” Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and, to allow a little improvisational guitar freedom, Hendrix’ “Voodoo Chile.”  G-Jay then kept the “Groove Thing” going with originals like “Faces,” and a memorable cover of the Specials “(a message for you ) Rudy.”  The trombones were not missed, with Crawford’s sax work, and the appropriate multicultural Specials were great to hear, as it had been a while, since there is nothing like a classic rock or rock station anywhere near Gwangju.  You would think GFN would cater to the tastes of the foreigners in town, with it being the Gwangju Foreigners Network, instead they play KPOP songs that are just as often from the bands managed by the director’s son than from KPOP itself.  There would still be plenty of time for a genuine rock hour or two per day, but helping foreigners feel at home is apparently not the goal of the station. I like what Pete Ross does, but his show is not rock either, but 75% mamby-pamby British obscurities.

This too is why the Disco Beavers will be missed, and why we hope the G-Jay band will be back.  Speakeasy impresario Derek does a great job locating Korea’s talent, and there is little doubt that new bands shall arise from the pool of English teachers.  There is no way any will touch the guitar mastery of Harold Lear though, as his musical resume includes a stint with Ringo Starr, and by golly, if Harold’s good enough to be a tenured sociology professor at New Brunswick, and has the musical chops to be Ringo Starr’s guitarist, that’s one mighty hard act to follow.

First Published in the Gwangju News:  http://www.gwangjunewsgic.com/

Ann Mary Campbell U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees: Afghanistan and Korea

Janey 17 profile for real

The Face of the Generation that could be lost

UPDATE:  Campbell also told me the fate of 2million Pakistanis who became refugees within a six week period in June and July of 2010. American paid mercenaries were making it impossible to that many Pakistanis to remain in their homes, the comparison speaks volumes. It tookabout8 years to create 2 million refugees in a full blown war in Iraq 2003-2011. How did the UYSA clear out so many Pakistanis, thus making local governments impotent, and clearing the way for the last 200 kilometers of the Afgan/Pakistni oil pipeline?  They were calling out the local governments and holding massive town/city meetings and giving the governments a choice:  tell people to clear out,or face the “consequences.”  WOW  Just as in Iraq and elsewhere, all dubious to insane military moves are made by well-paid mercenaries who are NOT on the payroll,nor liable to act under a chain of command. Thus the dirtiest deeds are NOT done by  our military, thus with no responsibility or consequences..

Anne Mary Campbell, the globetrotting United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Seoul seems to always appear during or just before massive refugee crises.

Before working for the United Nations, Campbell pulled four years for a Non-Government Organization (NGO) in Thailand, just as 160,000 refugees were fleeing Pol Pot’s killing fields in Kampuchea (Cambodia). Her work there gave her the experience needed to be placed in Kenya, just as 260,000 refugees poured in from Somalia, and in Mazur, Afghanistan do deal with the uncountable thousands internally displaced Afghans from 2004 to 2007.

What then could be the challenge for such expertise here in the Republic of Korea, which, of its 2500 known applications for refugee status, has only granted 175 people the papers they need to work and live here as refugee asylees?

Rather than meeting the food, shelter, clothing, medical and educational needs of refugees in tent cities, Campbell’s herculean task will be to achieve legislation that formalizes how refugees are accepted in Korea, and, for now, to at least find a way for those seeking refugee status to be able to do so at a port of entry with or without proper paperwork.

Her May 22nd GIC Talk laid out the definition of refugee, the immediate plight of 32 million refugees around the world, and the need for private funding of the UNHCR’s $2 billion annual budget.

Before the talk the Gwangju News (GN) chatted with Campbell and her assistant, Park Yoo Kyoung, the UNHCR Face-To-Face Fundraising Coordinator in Seoul.

“The legislative process is slow in Seoul, but if a refugee act can be passed, we would then work to strengthen the law. In East Asia, only Japan and South Korea have refugee asylum systems,” Campbell said in her native Irish accent. “North Koreans are not considered refugees here because they are given citizenship and assistance with many details of their lives once they arrive. A sign of the importance of foreigners was last year’s Together Day in Seoul in which President Lee spoke about the important roles foreigners play in Korea.”

Since guest workers are such a large part of the economy, it is an anomaly that only 3.5% of those seeking asylum have been granted working papers. South Korea’s prosperity relies on foreigners, but an onslaught of refugees may well be more than the export-driven economy here could handle.

GN: How is the drive to find more private donors to help asylum seekers going in the ROK?

Campbell: It is a brand new initiative, so we’re breaking even with money invested, but the 20-30-year-old age group is responding well.

GN: How can English-speaking readers get involved?

Campbell: You can find us at http://www.unhcr.or.kr . Among the refugees here, most come from Asia. For African refugees, they are on their own in a culture that is very different. For Asians it is much easier.

GN: In March the first recognized refugee ever, a man from Ethiopia, was given citizenship in the ROK. Is this a trend, or an exception?

Campbell: Our goal is to try to assist refugees as much as we can. First we’re working on expedited asylum claims, and looking forward to a refugee reception center that is expected to open in 2012. The Ministry of Justice, UNHCR and National Commission for Human Rights have met with pro bono lawyers representing refugees back when I was in Kenya. This kind of on-the-spot discussion is good. More can happen here, but the Ministry of Justice is already meeting more often with lawyers assisting refugees here.

Campbell’s talk began with an informative 15-minute movie about refugees in Africa and Columbia, both often created by ongoing civil wars. In Africa 5 million have died from war recently, two out of three being women. At its worst, 1000 people per day were dying from wars, notoriously in Rwanda, Sudan and Somalia, but elsewhere as well. The Columbian situation closely mirrors that in Seoul, where refugees are harder to assist, since they are in cities, thus spread out, and melding into large populations.

“In Seoul asylum seekers do not get assistance unless the adjudication process takes over a year. During this time, they do not have the right to work. In 1992 the ROK signed the refugee convention, and received its first asylum seeker in 2001. Many Asian countries never signed the covenant,” Campbell informed. “There are as many as five million Columbian refugees living in Ecuador. Eighty percent go to cities to gain anonymity, as they fear reprisals. Most earn one dollar per day, but the UNHCR has issued three million refugee cards there which gives the children a chance to be schooled. In the barrios (impoverished neighborhoods) 60-70% of the children are displaced.”

The movie also noted that many Koreans were displaced and moved toward Busan in the Korean War. Pictures of wind-driven snowy treks in the winter showed hundreds of Koreans walking toward Busan in the South, and lined up to take trains to Busan from Seoul.

“The will to live is strong during war, but the refugee asylum procedures are harder now than in the post World War II era,” Campbell said. “The UNHCR assists a government when invited to do so. Since World War II, the U.S. and Russia have had a lot of proxy wars, so refugees from the cold war, in addition to Rwanda, Columbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and many other places are internally displaced. You can’t be a refugee in your own country.”

This makes it hard for the UNHCR to help everyone, as certain criteria must be met before the worst atrocities can be handled. Among the most heinous examples: “In Rwanda one million or more were killed and the international community knew the slaughter was coming, but no one did anything until an outsider Tutu came in with his own army,” Campbell said. “In 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnia, a UN ‘Safe Haven’ was set up and protected by 400 Dutch UNPROFOR [United Nations Protection Force] soldiers, who could not prevent the mass murder of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims. In 1996, Albanians in Kosovo were also victims of genocidal Serbs, but the international community’s reaction, a military intervention by NATO, not the UN, made matters worse until the Balkan wars finally ended. In 2000 a poorly planned military intervention in Somalia was too heavy. The result was more bloodshed. So who has responsibility to protect? 1) the government of the county involved 2) the head of State of the country involved and then 3) the international community. But the level of atrocities must rise above human rights violations before international military interventions should be used,” Campbell suggested.

“At the 2007 World Summit, 150 heads-of-state agreed that a human rights problem is not enough to warrant intervention,” she continued. “It must be atrocities, and even then, it must be at a Rwandan level before the intervention could be a military one.

“I have been in the middle of many massive refugee situations. The UNHCR does not want to see anyone pushed back into harm’s way. Every asylum seeker during a war must be given due process and a proper interview,” Campbell said.

Many seeking asylum move due to drought, floods, and economic conditions, Campbell pointed out. “If we want to have control over the movement of people, developed countries must work to help economies grow so people do not need to flee. Those with questions after the meeting asked about what could happen with global climate change, and natural disasters, and how to help those who are forced to move for reasons other than war.

“The UNHCR has 200 offices and a staff of 6500. Our budget is $2 billion per year and our mandate says we must raise funds from private donations. The quickest way to help is to make donations, and the place you can start is by looking at http://www.unhcr.or.kr” Campbell said.

Dr. Binayak Sen, Indian Hero, Wins 2011 Gwangju Human RIghts Award, still relevant

http://www.gwangjunewsgic.com/online/about-us-2/

From a Story in the June 2011 Gwangju News

Photos and story by Doug Stuber

Copy of IMG_6119                                         Copy of IMG_6120

Copy of IMG_6121                                                 IMG_6120

IMG_6275                     IMG_6122

IMG_6123                                                     IMG_6124

IMG_6125                                                            IMG_6127

IMG_6128                                                              IMG_6129

Traditional Music at the Human Rights Award Ceremony

Traditional Music at the Human Rights Award Ceremony

This year’s Gwangju Human Rights Award winner is Binayak Sen, the Indian Medical Doctor who has served local patience in Chhattisgarh while fighting for human rights to the extend that he was given a life sentence by his “the world’s largest democracy.”  Archaic laws and false charges were used against Sen because he worked hard ot protect the original homeland, forest and waters of the indigenous Adivasis.  POSCO, the huge Korean Steel maker has been the driving force behind development that would “steal Iron ore at 60 cents per ton, (the going rate is $120) and not pay the tribe anything, while also setting up a steel factory on the land.

His acceptance speech also covered the massive poverty, with 43% of the children under five are malnourished, the average Indian lives on 50 cents a day, and 863 million Indians living in abject poverty, while India sports the largest number of US dollar billionaires in Asia these days.  He also noted that UNICEF estimates two million children per year die in India due to malnutrition and related diseases.

His work for the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and support of local unions and the land got him accused of helping Maoist rebels, and he was in Gwangju on Parole form the Supreme court, after being arrested and jailed in 2007.

He does not know whether he will be in jail again or not, but it appears the Supreme Court decision, which was influenced by support for Sen ranging from Amnesty International all the way up to Nobel Prize winners.  For a complete rundown of his speech, and the two special prize winners go to  www.gicjournal.wordpress.com

After his speech he went to a different subject and said “can you believe the world will still consider building more nuclear power plants after what happened in Japan?!?”

 IMG_6284

Daniela Kitain and Mazen Faraj, both members of the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group that promotes understanding and peace, along with justice in Palestine/Israel received the Special award this year.  Both have lost family members to each other’s army’s bullets, and their group is working with other families who have lost loved ones to the continued violence in an attempt to build human rights via peace.  Daniela lost a 21-year-old son, and Mazen, who was born in a refugee camp and lived through a hellish young life, had an additional pain applied when his father, at age 62, was gunned down.

As always, human rights activists from around the world attended the ceremonies, including the memorial ceremony at the 518 ceremony.  The night before, an evening overture to a series of seminars, performances, and flat-out crying occurred on Geumnam-no, as congregants of the May 18th Foundation’s 2011 Human Rights Award ceremony filed into the area that saw the worst of the 1980 massacre (along with “Sangmu”) and the last of the massacre (at Provincial Hall).

What began as a peaceful demonstration against the ruling dictatorship of Choi Kyu-hah who served from December 18, 1979 until August 16, 1980, and more to the point, his immediate predecessor, Park Chung Hee, who was in charge for two terms from December 27, 1972 until October 26, 1979, and later Chun Doo Hwan, who kept dictatorships alive against greatly suffering protests. It’s too tragic to list the number of work camps, imprisonments and destruction of lives that occurred to many who resisted the dictators, but once the movement for democracy took place, it was not to be denied.

But denial, until 1987 was handled by Chun Doo Hwan, one of the most vicious dictators, and the one who, though Lee Myung Bak could not manage to come to any but the first possible May 18th celebration in Gwangju, was able to have tea with Lee Myung Bak while he skipped May 18th celebrationsin Gwangjuin Lee’s second year in office..  A sitting president skips the 518 memorial, the first one to do so, yet is able to sit and take tea with Chun Doo Hwan?  The implications are massive.  The policy decision to use forced water cannons on USA Beef protestors in which were, according to Wikipedia were:  “the country’s largest anti-government protests in 20 years,” resulted in eight deaths, and the beef being allowed into South Korea in less than a months after those futile deaths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_US_beef_protest_in_South_Korea

One hopes that the lessons learned on 518 and in 2008 will both be heeded in the upcoming elections.

However, Under Chun, as many know, at least 54 suicides were directly related to the movement for democracy between May 18, 1980 and the gaining of a direct vote in 1987.  The most noted were the students who first published pamphlets about the importance of democracy, and then flung themselves from the library tower at Seoul National University.

Among Gwangju’s deaths was the Chonnam National University Student Union President, Park Gwan Hyeon, who died of a hunger strike in prison in 1982.  A new Liberal Arts building at ChonnDae is named after him.

Such sacrifice was needed, and such sacrifice succeeded.  Sadly, Japan, East Timor and India remain the only democratic or semi-democratic states in Asia.  But the May 18th Foundation has a large group of human rights interns who are schooled in the technical realities of how to foster democracy back in their home countries.

Robert Kesten, an activist in town for the Human Rights Award ceremonies and seminars, and director of the “People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning,” had an perceptive perspective about May 18.  “Not enough people ever found out about May 18, 1980 in Gwangju in my hoe country of the United States.  By 1980 the U.S. media had changed from a watchdog to a mouthpiece for government.  This problem persists not just in the U.S. and Asia, but in Europe now as well,” he said.  “We have so much more news going on yet hear more about Lindsey Lohan than the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Even form economists all we get is blah, blah blah.”

Kesten describes his Non-Government Organization (NGO) as a human rights corps: “a group of dedicated activists seeking to train people in villages, towns and cities about the importance of human rights.  We are based in New York, but achieved a grant form the Swiss government,” the activist said.  A typical worker in the PDHRE (I don’t know how they got the “D,” but the People, and Human Rights Education appear to be good guesses for the other letters) is not in it for monetary gain, but to instill the importance of human rights at a time when the globalized profit motive has turned billions into wage slaves.  This poverty exacerbates the opportunities for human rights abuses, and amounts to one in itself.

His inadvertent use of corps might make one think of the Peace Corps, but the US Government controlled group couldn’t be further form what Kesten’s and other NGOs are trying to achieve these days.  Other groups such as two form Japan: the Peace Boat (which uses microloans and education to create local economies in impoverished part of Asia) and Bicycle for Everyone’s Environment, the educated about global warming and bicycle use throughout Japan, travelling by bicycle of course, are part of a growing network that is slowly gaining momentum, and acts as a counter-balance to the profit-over-people approach that has failed to create a middle class in most of Asia.

ON the home-grown side, Kim Jung-Kil, the twice-elected Assemblymen from Busan, and former General Affairs minister in Kim Dae Jung’s cabinet, was on hand to usher in a new era that can gain the strength of the democratic movement in time for next year’s elections.  As a “democracy professor” he came to keep the Gwangju flame burning, and looked for all the world, like a presidential candidate as he enjoyed the triangular Kimbop offered by volunteer ajummas on Geumnam-no.

The hope is that more middle schools and high schools and even hagwans create field trips to the events during this week, and encourage participation in more events coming up May 21 and 22 downtown.  SO, Native English Speakers, stuck for a leson plan?  See if you supervisor will let your class visit an activity related to “518.”  Here’s to the spirit of Oh Ee Pal!

This year’s Gwangju Human Rights Award winner is Binayak Sen, the Indian Medical Doctor who has served local patience in Chhattisgarh while fighting for human rights to the extend that he was given a life sentence by his “the world’s largest democracy.”  Archaic laws and false charges were used agai nst Sen because he worked hard ot protect the original homeland, forest and waters of the indigenous Adivasis.  PSOSCO, the huge Korean Steel maker has been the driving force behind development that would “steal Iron ore at 60 cents per ton, (the going rate is $120) and not pay the tribe anything, while also setting up a steel factory on the land.

His acceptance speech also covered the massive poverty, with 43% of the children under five are malnourished, the average Indian lives on 50 cents a day, and 863 million Indians living in abject poverty, while India sports the largest number of US dollar billionaires in Asia these days.  He also noted that UNICEF estimates two million children per year die in India due to malnutrition and related diseases.

His work for the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and support of local unions and the land got him accused of helping Maoist rebels, and he was in Gwangju on Parole form the Supreme court, after being arrested and jailed in 2007.

He does not know whether he will be in jail again or not, but it appears the Supreme Court decision, which was influenced by support for Sen ranging from Amnesty International all the way up to Nobel Prize winners.  For a complete rundown of his speech, and the two special prize winners go to  www.gicjournal.wordpress.com

After his speech he went to a different subject and said “can you believe the world will still consider building more nuclear power plants after what happened in Japan?!?”

Daniela Kitain and Mazen Faraj, both members of the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group that promotes understanding and peace, along with justice in Palestine/Israel received the Special award this year.  Both have lost family members to each other’s army’s bullets, and their group is working with other families who have lost loved ones to the continued violence in an attempt to build human rights via peace.  Daniela lost a 21-year-old son, and Mazen, who was born in a refugee camp and lived through a hellish young life, had an additional pain applied when his father, at age 62, was gunned down.

As always, human rights activists from around the world attended the ceremonies, including the memorial ceremony at the 518 ceremony.  The night before, an evening overture to a series of seminars, performances, and flat-out crying occurred on Geumnam-no, as congregants of the May 18th Foundation’s 2011 Human Rights Award ceremony filed into the area that saw the worst of the 1980 massacre (along with “Sangmu”) and the last of the massacre (at Provincial Hall).

What began as a peaceful demonstration against the ruling dictatorship of Choi Kyu-hah who served from December 18, 1979 until August 16, 1980, and more to the point, his immediate predecessor, Park Chung Hee, who was in charge for two terms from December 27, 1972 until October 26, 1979, and later Chun Doo Hwan, who kept dictatorships alive against greatly suffering protests. It’s too tragic to list the number of work camps, imprisonments and destruction of lives that occurred to many who resisted the dictators, but once the movement for democracy took place, it was not to be denied.

But denial, until 1987 was handled by Chun Doo Hwan, one of the most vicious dictators, and the one who, though Lee Myung Bak could not manage to come any but the first possible May 18th celebration in Gwangju, was able to have tea with Lee Myung Bak.  A sitting president skips the 518 memorial, the first one to do so, yet is able to sit and take tea with Chun Doo Hwan?  The implications are massive.  The policy decision to use forced water cannons on USA Beef protestors in which were, according to Wikipedia were:  “the country’s largest anti-government protests in 20 years,” resulted in eight deaths, and the beef being allowed into South Korea in less than a months after those futile deaths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_US_beef_protest_in_South_Korea

One hopes that the lessons learned on 518 and in 2008 will both be heeded in the upcoming elections.

However, Under Chun, as many know, at least 54 suicides were directly related to the movement for democracy between May 18, 1980 and the gaining of a direct vote in 1987.  The most noted were the students who first published pamphlets about the importance of democracy, and then flung themselves from the library tower at Seoul National University.

Among Gwangju’s deaths was the Chonnam National University Student Union President, Park Gwan Hyeon, who died of a hunger strike in prison in 1982.  A new Liberal Arts building at ChonnDae is named after him.

Such sacrifice was needed, and such sacrifice succeeded.  Sadly, Japan, East Timor and India remain the only democratic or semi-democratic states in Asia.  But the May 18th Foundation has a large group of human rights interns who are schooled in the technical realities of how to foster democracy back in their home countries.

Robert Kesten, an activist in town for the Human Rights Award ceremonies and seminars, and director of the “People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning,” had an perceptive perspective about May 18.  “Not enough people ever found out about May 18, 1980 in Gwangju in my hoe country of the United States.  By 1980 the U.S. media had changed from a watchdog to a mouthpiece for government.  This problem persists not just in the U.S. and Asia, but in Europe now as well,” he said.  “We have so much more news going on yet hear more about Lindsey Lohan than the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Even form economists all we get is blah, blah blah.”

Kesten describes his Non-Government Organization (NGO) as a human rights corps: “a group of dedicated activists seeking to train people in villages, towns and cities about the importance of human rights.  We are based in New York, but achieved a grant form the Swiss government,” the activist said.  A typical worker in the PDHRE (I don’t know how they got the “D,” but the People, and Human Rights Education appear to be good guesses for the other letters) is not in it for monetary gain, but to instill the importance of human rights at a time when the globalized profit motive has turned billions into wage slaves.  This poverty exacerbates the opportunities for human rights abuses, and amounts to one in itself.

His inadvertent use of corps might make one think of the Peace Corps, but the US Government controlled group couldn’t be further form what Kesten’s and other NGOs are trying to achieve these days.  Other groups such as two form Japan: the Peace Boat (which uses microloans and education to create local economies in impoverished part of Asia) and Bicycle for Everyone’s Environment, the educated about global warming and bicycle use throughout Japan, travelling by bicycle of course, are part of a growing network that is slowly gaining momentum, and acts as a counter-balance to the profit-over-people approach that has failed to create a middle class in most of Asia.

ON the home-grown side, Kim Jung-Kil, the twice-elected Assemblymen from Busan, and former General Affairs minister in Kim Dae Jung’s cabinet, was on hand to usher in a new era that can gain the strength of the democratic movement in time for next year’s elections.  As a “democracy professor” he came to keep the Gwangju flame burning, and looked for all the world, like a presidential candidate as he enjoyed the triangular Kimbop offered by volunteer ajummas on Geumnam-no.

The hope is that more middle schools and high schools and even hagwans create field trips to the events during this week, and encourage participation in more events coming up May 21 and 22 downtown.  SO, Native English Speakers, stuck for a leson plan?  See if you supervisor will let your class visit an activity related to “518.”  Here’s to the spirit of Oh Ee Pal!

Smile to laugh,

Copy of IMG_2642

New Cheer:  “Kick Ass Doug”

Smile to laugh,
gleam to sweat, in last
Gwangju summer, packing one
more time, one more move,
conclusion.

Family may
shrink again, grandmother
struggles, husband not
silent enough, must now make
a life of farming.

Dynamic
bounces from caustic
to tolerant, but stress mounts,
throws Dad for a loop.
Numbers suck

so doctors
check; stress ruins love, kills the
romance. The batting
order is a team of three,
not Kia Tigers.

Pressures ease
as sweat replaces rage for
hot gym rats
and their mascot, our
running, hiding, son.

One semester
to make everything look good,
quell rampant
rumors, teach better,
kiss Gwangju goodbye.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gwangju Biennale Symposium: “Media and Future Politics”

Gwangju Biennale Symposium Series “Sweet Dew, Since 1980”

Media and Future Politics, 29 August 2014, Gwangju South Korea.

The “Burning Down the House” symposium titled “Media and Future Politics” was expansive and educational as expert media analysts and journalists from Thailand, Germany, and South Korea harmonized about the takeover of mass media by big capital, the uneven effectiveness of Social Messaging services as truth-telling devices, and the future of democracy under such conditions.

Moderator Kim Sae Jeong first noted that media laws and have changed the spirit of South Korea from Gwangju’s starting positive democratic changes to democracy moving backward in less than 20 years. Lee Young Woo then explained that the Gwangju Biennale, the oldest biennale in Asia is celebrating 20 years with a series of symposiums meant to broaden the discussion begun by Jessica Morgan’s “Burning Down the House,” a concept that implies that the past must be destroyed in order for a more positive future to be achieved.

Thai journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk, who has recently been detained for a week by the self-empowered Junta in Bangkok, spoke of the effectiveness and weaknesses of using SMS like twitter, Facebook, Line and YouTube when a society faces its second military overthrow in seven years.

“On May 22, 2014 General Prayuth took over, and as Army chief eventually appointed himself Prime Minister. The initial protests against the coup were massive with two weeks of chaos, but the streets quieted down, in part due to the protests moving into social media and away from the streets. In this way SMS helped the Coup retain power, which the Junta in 2006 did not. But this coup was the first in the world in the SMS era,” Pravit said.

He explained that the conflict was really between the Old Elite and the New Elite, and that the poor of Thailand, some 55-60 percent of the people were backing the new elite, while the middle class backed the old elite. Rojanaphruk’s 20 years of reporting for The Nation Newspaper (English) and as a volunteer for the online Thai language publication “prachatai.com made him so influential that the Coup leaders order number 6 was that he present himself to the “National Council for Peace and Order” t be detained. While behind bars he noted that left wing activists and business leaders were detained in the same camp, and became friends with his jailers.

“I made over 6000 new twitter followers without being able to send out a single tweet,” he said with a chuckle. “Many activists fled to as far away as Europe rather than face detention by the Coup. But I asked a guard if I could at least see my twitter account and he showed it to me on his phone, and I warned them that they can’t stop social media. Later they contacted the Norwegian company that administers Facebook in Thailand, and shut down Facebook for 45 minutes. The outrage was huge and swift as nearly one third of Thai people have Facebook accounts, and there are more cell phones I Thailand than there are people.

The drawbacks are that all the anger can be funneled into cyberspace and not on the streets. No matter how much SMS was used to fuel the Arab Spring, it was people on the streets that caused the changes, he noted. The bigger problem is that social media can be used by governments to spy on people. But, if the TV and man newspapers are censoring themselves out of fear of a Junta, then social media is what we have left to spread the news in varying levels of truth and emotion.

“A Colonel in the Army asked if I would add him as a friend on Facebook while I was detained. I did.

“The public in Thailand is somewhat divided as about 15 percent supported the coup. The coup itself was tactful not to arrest too many people, as, after a while, both the protestors and the army were simply tired out, Rojanaphruk said. “The Monarchy is still in existence in Thailand, and there are laws against saying anything against the monarchy, but this year’s coup is an expression of the old elite being overthrown by the new elite, it’s similar to the Chosun Dynasty be challenged here. I can’t say much more than that or I will be in prison again.”

IN the Q and A, Professor Kim Nam See of Ehwa Women’s University mentioned that Korea has a national agency that sets up multiple SMS accounts to sway public opinion. They also have a large staff monitoring social media, and tens of thousands of sites and accounts have been blocked. Rojanaphruk’s response: “I’ve had tweets that demand that I be arrested on one hand, on the other, the Coup Leader Prayuth has written a song called “Returning Happiness to the Thai People,” and you hear it everywhere and all the time, he said with a wry smile.

Thoug Jurgen Muller’s examples were more historical, he hit home with the Media’s triumphs and failures from the French Revolution to the backlash against Der Speigel newspaper when it reported that Germany was in effect defenseless in 1962, and editors and journalists were jailed, and the police seized mounds of papers and microfilm. The Media in conflict with government often loses such conflict, and loses its ability to be a watchdog of government corruption.

As Plato, the founding thinker of democracy, said, “Democracy does not work in an uneducated society,” to which must be added, ESPECIALLY a society uneducated about its government.

Muller then used the photographs, taken on cell phones, at Abu Ghraib to show how important citizen journalism can be. Most famously reported by The New Yorker magazine’s Seymour Hersh, who also exposed the Mi Lai massacre in Vietnam. But the images went beyond the New Yorker, and were amplified on SMS. He pointed out that in wars there is a strong tendency of the mass media in countries to turn patriotic. “”Political and economic powers have an enormous interest in the exclusion of elements which might irritate our ideologically shaped views of the world and the world of wars.”
He failed to remind us though, that no matter how horrific the tortures were at Abu Ghraib and other “extraordinary rendition” sites around the world were, the media so squelched the wrongdoing that George Bush was re-elected 1.5 years AFTER the tortures took place partly because the mass media in the USA depicted him as the more “moral leader,” then John Kerry because Kerry favored legalized abortion. Thus, when big business and big government collude to create red herrings like gay marriage and abortion and “tough on crime” those same issues can be used over and over to assure conservative, bloodthirsty, in effect fascist leaders continue to be elected.

Muller rightly pointed out that when the media gets too cozy with government, corruption is inevitable. He also rightly stated that in order for social media truth-tellers to remain free, they are going to have to find ways to hide their identities and which computers or phones they send their tweets and posts out on.

He ended with a story about how the Bild newspaper went overboard in digging up unsubstantiated facts about ousted German President Christian Wulff. “This excessive procedure feeding the voyeuristic greed of the public came along with a media competition of journalists to be the first to publish the ‘latest’ sensational aspect of the crisis. Newspapers and print media did not make use of their reflective and abstaining potential in relation to the much faster digital and social media.” Maybe they went too far, but at least they tried to hold power responsible for its actions. The last time anything like investigative journalism worked in the USA was Watergate, which forced President Nixon to resign in 1974. (OK, other than for false investigative journalism used to defame progressives by liars like Fox News.)

His best point being that if newspapers want to survive at all, they should slow down and take the time to analyze and dig deeper into the issues than the often emotional SMS world does.

Later, panel discussion member Han Seon, a research professor of the May 18th Foundation at Chonnam National University pointed out that in Korea 70 percent of the print media is conservative, and only 10 percent is progressive. This, in effect, vetoes independent reporting in South Korea. But big capital and Big Government laws are and even larger interference to the media playing its role as a watchdog of government.

There was a general dislike of reporters moving on to become spokes-people for the Blue House, or, in the case of the USA, a White House Press Secretary (George Stefanopolos) becoming a news star for ABC Network news.

Choi Jinbong was more on point with a speech titled “The Conservative Government’s Control over the Media and the Crisis of Democracy.” Pointedly he said “The media tryn to construct reality for people who don’t have first-hand experience. Government uses the media and the media is used to control public opinion. The Communication professor at Sunhonghoe University (where else?) who has also been a professor at Texas State University, returned to Korea after 13 years I the USA, said that “the gatekeepers (of news) are gone, and anyone can make a post, so who has the power? Many issues are not covered that should be.”

“Lee Myung Bak started his administration by putting the Korean Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission under the direct control of the President. This led to three papers (Dong –A, Chosun and Choong Ang) dominating the media on the print side, and legalizing large conglomerates as owners of broadcast media.” The result being corporate news, and only corporate news, for 90 percent or more of the people who care to look at or read the news.

“There are two types of control in South Korean Media that lower the level of democracy: big money and government,” Choi said. The laws passed over opposition that went so far as court cases were ruled illegal, but never overturned by the court. Illegal, but allowed to stand. Later, the National Assembly never even looked at whether these laws were legal or not, and the proxy voting that created news channels that attack individuals and political parties alike.”

“It’s like watching North Korean TV, anyone who opposes the government is defamed. The ruling party controls 13 of the 15 members of the broadcasting commission. This should be slplit evenly if we are to gain any measure of fairness in the media,” he continued. “Exaggerated and even false information distributed on their airwaves all went against the basic rules and principles of Korean journalism, misguiding the entire society.”

This problem continues, of course.

“Lack of media fairness initiated by MBC correspondents’ refusal to produce any content, were followed by the company-wide strikes in 2012… Park (GH) could be elected though she stems from Lee’s political ideology which disregarded and failed to communicate with the public, because domestic broadcasters, conservative newspapers and general programming channels made explicitly biased reports during the campaign period,” Choi said.

“Broadcasters are organizations that play a role in our society including observing and checking the authorities and forming public opinions after collecting different views. Therefore, they should be supervised by an independent organization free from any influence of the authorities, including government,“ he scolded.

“KBS’s reporting of the Sewol Ferry tragedy plainly showed how the Park government was skillfully reigning in and controlling public broadcast. KBS continued to release biased and false reports and omitted reports about government faults,” he added.

In the age of globalization, corporate and big money control of the media gives the public a biased view of the world, and almost no valid reporting about the plight of the impoverished, the real damage being done to our environment or the importance of independent investigative journalists playing their role as watchdogs in a democracy. Later, in the panel discussion he added that changing society or journalism from the bottom up will not work, and it is those at the top that have to be changed. “Capital has a huge influence over the media, and regulations have been eased to improve profits,” he said. Improved profits yes, more truth in the media, no.

Another panelist, Hyuph Namgun, said that we have to change the way we consume the news, and consume in general. He warned that the older+ generation contradicts itself when seeing the young consumerism as vulgar, when in reality, people in their 40s and 50s also have to stop over consuming, and demand that the stories about the suffering in the world be passed down to younger generations otherwise the suffering will grow larger in the future.

Panelist Yoon SHuk-Nyun pointed out that cross ownership of media causes a very cozy relationship between government and media, leaving no voice for the poor and powerless. “Conservative outlets ignore the issues of the underprivileged.

Han Seon added that the media showed the smiling faces of Israelis after their government attacked civilians in Palestine, and this warps the realities of war. She pointed out that journalists should have more autonomy and be able to write stories whether their publishers like them or not, if they are true.

Panelist Joo Chngmin noted that checks and balances are gone in the media. This leads to the public not getting accurate information

Panelist Kanf Chul-Soo also noted inaccuracies, in his case, in exit polls and the way the media covers elections in general. ““Leading candidates are allowed to duck debates,” (while lesser-known candidates are not interviewed at all).

Lastly, a questioner from Joengju, Kim So Gi, noted that in “Burning Down the House” itself, the work of Hong Song Dan had been excluded due to worries that it was too controversial. Three other artists had pulled out due to the decision to exclude the art. Apparently Mayor Yoon was worried about continued funding of the Biennale if certain art was allowed to be hung. “Empty Spaces are now where art could be at the Gwangju Museum of Art,” she said. Her point was that even art could be controlled by the government, and Pravit Rojanaphruk ended the discussion with a point about SMS reaities:

“Where is the truth,” he said, “Is it Surreal, Impressionist, Expressionist, or realist? IN SMS we get them all.” Muller added: “It’s a type of romantic reality.”

Every one of the presenters showed a different side of how the media is controlled by big business and big government in the age of globalization. There were few definitive answers as to how to changes this, but some good suggestions as to how to try. The almost sold-out room mostly stayed until the end, about an hour over the prescribed time.

C.I.A. Dog

C.I.A. Dog

Walking out Waimuri way
Goes the lost retriever.
She trots a bit, a nervous sway,
Eyes anxious, nostrils flared
In search of the deceiver.

No way to know how she got here,
No maps outside, inside fear.
She couldn’t know this place is a dot
Or two no one thinks about.
Her placement reeks of a Pacific plot.

Next week she’ll board a boat
To blow a hole in her wooden keel.
Transformed into one hundred pounds
Of bomb that barks and sounds
Like any other golden: look she floats!

Or parts of her do, blown astray.
She had no idea life would shorten
Or be abused, or cause harm
In such an evil way.
The worst she knew, back on the farm

Were cats playing hackey-sack
With mice about to be a meal,
Or Bob Dylan singing “how does it feel?”
Now she’s flotsam in the bloody sea,
One more boat down for Greenpeace.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 1994. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.