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7th Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists
 Human Asia (humanasia@humanasia.org)     2011년 11월 07일    2,445  

These reviews were originally published on March 2011 Human Asia Newsletter on the 7th Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists that took place on February 23~25th, 2011.

[Review 1] A Whole New World
Written by Changho Lee (Former volunteer at Human Asia, working in Cambodia as of October 2011)

I got to participate in the 7th Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists, mostly by chance. As I looked back on what I have learned about human rights during my twenty-something years, I realized I learned almost nothing. I only learned about math formulae—now-forgotten—and English grammar. For a good reason, I was partially thrilled (and anxious) about the Workshop. On the train to Seoul, I pondered upon human rights and mumbled “human rights…human rights…human rights…”, but I could only recall surveys for the promotion of human rights in the military frequently conducted in the army. Now as I look back, I think I was more thrilled about meeting famous people in the human rights field at the workshop.

Yet, on the first day of workshop, the 6th Asia Human Rights Forum, my expectation was totally shattered. Initially, I imagined human rights workshop to be small gathering of people—sort of human rights maniac. And I expected that the majority of those maniacs would be nodding off to sleep. I was quite taken aback by the fact that lots of people were interested in human rights. To be frank, I was skeptical, thinking how many would actually attend the conference that was to start very early morning, just to listen to lectures on human rights. But as the Forum began, the number of people increased and some even had to stand as there were no seats left.

This year’s Asia Human Rights Forum was on ethnic minorities in Asia. Because of the heavy and serious subject matter, the overall atmosphere of the first day (Forum) was rather rigid and tense. From the second day, the workshop program commenced and we worked in our designated groups. We were able to enjoy the time and actively participate, as the lectures and trainings were closely related to our interest. We listened to ethnic minority refugee situations in neighboring countries and international human rights trend, told by actual activists in the field. On the last day, each group presented on different ethnic minorities in Asia. Unlike my initial expectation, I came to realize that human rights issue is not a topic unapproachable; it is our own story.
One thing I was disappointed about, was the general lack of interest in human rights amongst young males in their twenties. The fact that they are prospective leaders (including women of course), mostly ignorant of their potential to bring about positive changes in human rights field, depressed me a bit. Honestly, what I learned through the Workshop was not so much about the various human rights issues of Asia, but the existence of sincere interests and concerns for human rights. I discovered that human rights are not a far-off subject and discovered a new perspective to view the world, learning to see things in a whole new way. This workshop inspired me to read a book on human rights that had been gathering dust on my shelf, and it was a priceless opportunity to meet many mentors. As I repeated the word human rights on the train back home, I felt a small light flickering inside me, which will help ignite and spread the light of human rights throughout Asia.

Written by Changho Lee, Forum/Workshop Volunteer at the ACHR
Translated by Minju Yang, Program Assistant at the ACHR
Edited by Jooyea Lee, Program Officer at the ACHR

[Review 2] My experience at the 7th Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists
Written by Yeonju Shin, Former volunteer at Human Asia

Human rights, although very important to us, is rarely mentioned in our daily life. At least that’s what I thought before I participated in the workshop. I scarcely talked about human rights with my friends even when I read a news article on human rights. When I participated in the 7th Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists, I realized that my thoughts were wrong. 

“Those who agree with dispatching the UN forces, please raise your paper.”

Our first lecture at workshop was about Libya crisis that I had only heard about on the television. The topic I had only deemed as mere democratization was the main topic of the lecture. As Mr. Euntae Go, member of International Executive Committee of Amnesty International, posed the question whether to dispatch the UN forces, we voted according to our opinion. With more approval than disapproval, students began to explain their rationale. Among reasons of disapproval, one remains in my memory: if the UN forces intervene and citizens of Libya cannot gain democratization by themselves, the country may become subject to other countries’ influence. On the other hand, advocates of dispatching the UN forces cited massacre of citizens by Libyan army and voiced the importance of human rights protection. Thus, as we viewed a current topic from human rights perspective, I realized the extensive connection between human rights and our everyday life.

In Human Rights Case Study Training, I learned how human rights and an individual are closely linked. Our group was on publicizing criminal record, and we discussed our right to know and our right to privacy. ‘Can our right to privacy be restricted?’ ‘Can human rights be restricted by the government?’ In the beginning I disagreed with publicizing criminal record, but as I debated with other participants, I came to understand that it could be revealed to defend a particular human rights factor.
Even now, two weeks after the workshop, I can vividly remember the moment. Tables with black microphones arranged in a circular way, friendly conversation with participants, our smiles and the moments we busily took notes during lectures and trainings. I gained a lot from the workshop. Before, when I watched news on human rights violation, I wanted to help the people because they were ‘suffering’. Now, however, I think we should help them because their basic human rights are being violated. Through the workshop I was able to contemplate on human rights and view international organizations’ response in regard to human rights. Also, I realized that human rights are inalienable from my life. In this sense, I was lucky to have been able to participate in the 7th Workshop for Young Human Rights Activists.

Written by Yeon Joo Shin, Forum/Workshop Volunteer at the ACHR
Translated by Minju Yang, Program Assistant at the ACHR
Edited by Jooyea Lee, Program Officer at the ACHR