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FIHRM-ASIA PACIFIC EVENTS

Members' Events
2022-05-16

Taiwan's Long Walk to Freedom of Speech   Time: Apr. 7th, 2022-Apr. 7th, 2024, 0900-1800, Monday-Sunday Venue: Chang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Permanent Exhibition Hall   In October 1945, after the KMT took over Taiwan, many state violations and suppression of human rights cases occurred. After the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, President Chiang Kai-shek strengthened the authoritarian system with economic and military assistance from the United States, which further suppressed Taiwan's freedom of speech.   It was only after the lifting of martial law in 1987 and the termination of the Period of National Mobilization for the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion in 1991 that the authoritarian regime ended. However, as to freedom of speech, it was until the abolishment of the Betrayers Punishment Act in 1991 and the revision of Article 100 of the Criminal Law in 1992 that the people of Taiwan were free from intimidation from the State. Since then, freedom of speech has been guaranteed.   Taiwan is now an advanced democracy in East Asia, and it ranks among the top in the protection of freedom of speech. "Taiwan's Long Walk to Freedom of Speech" focuses on the progress of freedom of speech in Taiwan. Based on the historical context from 1945 to the present, the exhibition is divided into the following units to present Taiwan's arduous journey from authoritarianism to freedom and democracy.   1. The Formation of the Speech Suppression System 2. 1945-1949: Taiwan's Media Catastrophe and the "April 6 Incident." 3. the 1950s: "Free China" and the Struggle regardless of Provincial Identifications 4. the 1960s: The Fearless Figures under the Suffocation of Speech 5. the 1970s-1980s: Setbacks and Breakthroughs of Dang-Wai Collective Actions 6. 1987-1992: Sacrifice and Crash on the Last Mile 7. Conclusion: Challenges of the New Era

2022-05-16

The Big Waves Stroke: The Truth and Rehabilitation of the “Re-rebellion Cases” of the Green Island New Life Correction Center   The Big Waves Stroke: The Truth and Rehabilitation of the “Re-rebellion Cases” of the Green Island New Life Correction Center   Apr. 15th– Nov. 15th, 2022 Ren-ai Building, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park   In May 1949, the Taiwan Provincial Government enforced Martial Law throughout Taiwan. In the same month, the Legislative Yuan also passed the Statutes for the Punishment of Rebellion. Since then, Taiwan has entered the White Terror period for more than 40 years. In the 1950s, several prisons of political prisoners had so-called Re-insurgency Cases that the authorities claimed, which led to the loss of batches of young souls. Why have political prisoners who fallen into round-the-clock imprisonment could be accused by the authorities of “Re-rebellion to the Government”?   To solve the mystery, the National Human Rights Museum launched a special exhibition: The Big Waves Stroke: The Truth and Rehabilitation of the “Re-rebellion Cases” of the Green Island New Life Correction Center during 1953-1956 in Green Island White Terror Memorial Park in 2021. The special exhibition received favorable reviews. This year, NHRM moved the special exhibition to its Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park. By launching the exhibition, we hope that the truth can be restored and the lost young lives commemorated.

2022-05-16

The Awaken Healers: the Doctor Victims at the White Terror in Taiwan   Time: May 1st, 2022 - Mar. 26th, 2023 Venue: Green Island White Terror Memorial Park   During the White Terror period in Taiwan, there was a group of intellectuals with medical ethics and morality. Their participation in public and social movements caused traumas to themselves and their families. They have left an extraordinary history for the medical profession and democracy and demonstrated the value of human rights. We try to restore the truth and set the unjust right through court judgments, historical materials, and oral histories of political victims and their families.

2022-04-26

Since 1 February 2021, Myanmar has been in turmoil as the Myanmar Army, known as the Tatmadaw, detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint following a general election which Suu Kyi’s NLD party won by a landslide. The coup d’état led by General Min Aung Hlaing brought an end to a decade of semi-democratic rule and returned full power to the military, a state of emergency and gross human rights abuses. Courageously, the population has been resisting and demanding the release of the imprisoned leaders, as well as a booming number of prisoners and the restoration of democratic rule. A massive Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) has emerged and hundreds of thousands continue to take to the streets in spite of the military’s use of lethal force against protesters. Amidst the failure of the international community to take action, atrocities are being committed on an increasing scale, with the opposition National Unity Government (NUG) in exile resorting to form the People Defense Force and justify armed resistance. As of 15 March 2022, 1672 people are confirmed killed by the junta coup and a total of 9625 people are currently under detention. In total, 84 people are sentenced to death, in person and absentia, including two children. In the midst of global worries, it is more crucial than ever to keep Myanmar on the public agenda. In solidarity with the democratic movement in Myanmar, SEA Junction and Human Rights Art Initiative (HuRAI), with the support of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) and Asia Democracy Network (ADN), are therefore organizing the exhibition “Stand for Democracy in Myanmar” on the 3rd floor of Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) from 26 April to 8 May 2022. The thirteen artworks are produced by Marcelo Brodsky, an Argentine artist who advocates visual narratives through photography, installations, monuments, and work that combines text and images. Images of the demonstrations against the coup during the Myanmar Spring triggered him to create work in solidarity with the protesters, creating a visual experience for larger groups to engage—aestheticising the snapshots from the demonstrations, leaving resulting effects for mobilization. He activates personal and collective memory, communicating a message of resistance hoping to connect people across time and space, ending up working at the crossroads between visual art, poetry, and human rights activism. Stand for Democracy in Myanmar leverages visual art to raise public awareness of and to express solidarity with the cause of the civil movement in Myanmar and their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights. The exhibition at the BACC is part of a larger program of art shows and events at art institutions and museums around the globe which mobilize visual artists in support of the CDM and the democratically mandated NUG. Brodsky’s artworks have been exposed at the Tokyo Institute of Photography, Kunsthall 3,14 (Bergen, Norway) and most recently at Photobastei (Zurich, Switzerland).

2021-12-30

Ayo! Ayo! Tomorrow Must Be Better Oct. 6th, 2021 - Mar. 27th, 2022 Renai Building, Jingmei White Terror Memorial Park    In 2019, at the ICOM General Conference in Kyoto, the Federation of International Human Rights Museums officially announced the launch of its Asia-Pacific branch (FIHRM-AP), headquartered at Taiwan’s National Human Rights Museum. We build an education platform for our colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region, mainly to share more knowledge on the concept of empowerment, engagement, partnership, and collaboration. In response to the theme for International Museum Day 2020, “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion,” FIHRM-AP invited 14 museums and 15 NGOs in Taiwan and formed the 2020 Co-Learning Group on Migration and Human Rights.   In this exhibition, the National Human Rights Museum and 15 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) further transformed the discussion of "human rights and migration" into a joint curation. We looked into the fact that more than 700,000 migrant workers have become an indispensable labor force of Taiwan, the corresponding basic human rights issues such as religion, language, culture, daily life, and working conditions, however, have not been adequately secured with times.   This exhibition leads the audience to measure the distance between migrant workers and Taiwanese people’s daily lives. Migrant workers, Taiwanese people, and NGOs, there are three kinds of "sense of daily life" that interlinked and formed each other. We try to guide the audience to examine the various difficulties behind the legal system of migrant workers on the surface of "seemingly ordinary daily life." After introducing the objects and services migrant workers produce through product catalogs; we take the audience into the working environment to physically experience their working conditions. Furthermore, through the testimony and exhibits of the migrant workers, the audience can learn about the real needs and expectations of their life in Taiwan. This exhibition finally brings out how NGOs have been working for the human rights of migrant workers/ new residents by presenting the important events of the past 30 years of migrant workers in the memorabilia.   We hope that this special exhibition can act a public platform. We look forward to inviting the audience to notice the existence of migrant workers in their daily life, reflect on policies and systematic problems, and finally take action. Organized by: The National Human Rights Museum, FIHRM-AP   Co-organized by: 1095 Studio The Awakening Foundation Brilliant Time Bookstore The Garden of Hope Foundation Khuôn viên văn hoá Việt Nam National Domestic Workers’ Union Serve the People Association Stella Maris Center, Kaohsiung Taipei Womens’ Rescue Foundation Taiwan Association for Human Rights Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA) Taiwan International Families’ Association (TIFA) Trans Asia Sisters Association, Taiwan Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Immigrants Office of the Catholic Church's Hsinchu Diocese Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union

2021-11-24

The Historical Scenarios of the White Terror in Taiwan: The Exhibition on Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park   Jul. 26th, 2021- Dec. 31st, 2021 Venue: National Human Rights Museum- Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park (131, Fuxing Rd., Xindian, New Taipei City, Taiwan)     The National Human Rights Museum is the first human rights museum in Asia to be located at the site of injustice. Since its establishment in 2018, it has taken "human rights" as its core value to restore and represent the space. Building it into a room for continuous dialogue and reflection is also an essential task of the National Human Rights Museum to promote transformational justice.   The thematic exhibition of Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park is knowledgeable and promotes the public's understanding of the authoritarian regime and allows mutually conflicting opinions obtained in the exhibition hall, providing an opportunity for communication.   The exhibition provides visitors with a structured and contextual introduction of the complex history of the White Terror era that is based on the viewpoint of human rights. It also tries to guide the audience to reflect on the connection with contemporary times after understanding the human rights violations of authoritarian rule.

News
2022-04-15

The Norwegian Network for Democracy and Human Rights Museums wish to welcome all FIHRM members and other colleagues from the international museum community to Norway in September 2022. The conference will be at the following Oslo venues: The Nobel Peace Center, a museum dedicated to the Nobel peace prize, and at the The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies, located on the museum isle Bygdøy. The opening session will take place at the museum Eidsvoll 1814, in the historical house where the Norwegian constituent assembly drafted Norway’s constitution more than two centuries ago. Together we will explore how museums engage with topics of democratic exclusion and inclusion, and also how museums may strive to uphold their autonomy in places where human rights and democratic ideals are under pressure. The conference participants will have good opportunity to explore a wide array of museums, as well as the vibrant cultural scene in Oslo, Norway’s capital city. The program will be released in spring 2022. Detailed information about registration will be given soon, but please save the dates 19 – 21 September 2022. See you in Norway.

2022-04-15

Museums under Pressure: Government, Community, Autonomy The annual conference for the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) will take place in Oslo, Norway, on 19–21 September. An international call for papers is now open and FIHRM welcomes your submissions. FIHRM invites proposals from museums that engage with human rights issues and seek to challenge traditional museum thinking and practice while dealing with sensitive or controversial topics. The call is open to colleagues at museums and other institutions affiliated with FIHRM, as well as institutions related to this field of work, regardless of its size, resources, or location. The FIHRM 2022 conference is organized by the Norwegian museum network for democracy and human rights (Demokratinettverket). Deadline for this open call is June 1st, 2022. If you wish to submit a conference paper, please consider the following: The conference aims to critically discuss the relative autonomy and margins of action for Human Rights museums and related organisations, an urgent topic for museums in several countries today. What types of relations exists between museums, governments, and other power holders? How do such dependencies shape the role of museums and their engagement with subjects considered to be sensitive or controversial? The conference further aims to map the current situation for museums dealing with human rights worldwide that address social, cultural, and political inclusivity/exclusion from different angles. The conference especially welcomes submissions with best practice examples where the goal is to address and negotiate inclusivity, within the museum space and/or in society in general. What approaches or strategies for inclusion have proven to be especially relevant for human rights museums? The objective for all FIRHM conferences is to share experiences of participatory practices, developments of competences and methods, and community-based relationship building. If you have a relevant, inspirational and pioneering project, we urge you send a submission for consideration. The 2022 FIHRM conference will have a global scope and welcomes submissions from all continents. Within the broad diversity of international cases and approaches, the conference will pay particular attention to museums in Eastern Europe and their efforts to maintain autonomy. The conference will also address the severe situation for museums in Ukraine, caused by brute invasion and war. Secondly, museums and museum practices in the Nordic and Scandinavian countries will also be given an increased focus during the conference. Submissions from speakers that can be present at the conference might be given priority, although digital presentations may also be taken into consideration for the programme. Please submit your abstract of 300 words for a 20‐minute paper, along with a short CV, Deadline is extended to August 1st 2022,to: post@demokratinettverket.no For inquiries, please contact the organizing committee: Torleif.Hamre@eidsvoll1814.no A detailed programme for the conference will be published and continually updated here and the Norwegian museum network.

2022-05-11

Author profile - THET OO MAUNG (Filmmaker, Photographer) Thet Oo Maung (a.k.a Stephen Minus) is a dedicated humanitarian, self-taught painter, photographer and videographer. He has used his camera skills to amplify the voices of those who have been maligned, forgotten about, or silenced. His work has dealt with civil war, landmines, people with disabilities, child education, child healthcare, women empowerment, digital rights, illegal logging, land grabbing and environmental degradation. He is now organizing and running the first underground human rights film festival in Burma, the “One Step Film Forum”. About - ONE STEP FILM FORUM One Step Film Forum is dedicated to promoting Humanity in Myanmar through the films. One Step Film Forum is the whistle blowing arena for people who also need to raise their voices for justice. We are promoting the rights to freedom of expression, Freedom of speech, Peace and Harmony through our film screening events. We are sharing the knowledge of Human Rights, Justice and Activism. On the first day of February, 2021, the military junta is abusively taken power from the newly elected NLD government. Many people came out to the street and protested against the Military Coup. The Military kills a lot of youth including women and children to suppress the peaceful protest around the country. In that case, One Step Film Forum is continuing to promote Human Rights, Freedom and Justice. We fight with the power of films. Myanmar (Burma) was declared as a Buddhist state in 1961 by U Nu after its separation from the UK. On 29 August 1961, Parliament passed the State Religion Promotion Act of 1961, initiated by U Nu himself. This act made Buddhism the official state religion of the country, as one of his election campaigns. After Myanmar (Burma) gained independence, some ethnic groups revolted against the newly founded country. Once famous ethnic rebel group is the Karen people, and most of them are Christian. Another is the Burma Communist Party, and the government consider them as non-religious barbarians or anti-Buddhists. The K.I.A (Kachin Independence Army) started a revolt after the declaration of the national religion in 1961, because most of the Kachins were Christian. Since then, a major task of the government has been promoting Buddhism and using Buddhism to unite people under one common belief. On the other hand, the government suppressed in many ways to other religions such as Christianity, Hindu and Islam in the country in the name of promoting the state religion. One of the examples is refusing to save non-Buddhist religious artifacts, despite the fact that all these religions have coexisted in Myanmar for a thousand years. Sometimes, the government intentionally destroysevidence. Many scholars call these acts “Burmanization.” The museums in Myanmar are under full control of the government. They support the government’s state religion policy in their own way, such as excluding other religious artifacts from being saved or exhibited.  Ethnic diversity in Myanmar  Myanmar (also known as Burma) is an ethnically diverse nation, with 135 distinct ethnic groups officially recognized by the Burmese Government. These are grouped into eight "major national ethnic races": Burman, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kayah, Mon, Arakanese and Shan. The "major national ethnic races" are grouped primarily according to region rather than linguistic or ethnic affiliation.    Many unrecognized ethnic groups exist, the largest being the Burmese Chinese and Panthay (who together form 3% of the population), Burmese Indians (who form 2% of the population), Anglo-Burmese, and Gurkha. There are no official statistics regarding the population of the latter two groups, although unofficial estimates place around 52,000 Anglo-Burmese in Burma with around 1.6 million outside the country. The Government of Myanmar (Burma) does not recognize several ethnic groups as being among the list of 135 officially recognized ethnic groups. They are:  ·          Anglo-Burmese people  ·          Burmese Chinese  ·          Panthay  ·          Burmese Indians  ·          Taungtha people  ·          Rohingya people  ·          Burmese Gurkha/Nepalese  Myanmar has very diverse ethnic groups and many different cultural and religious heritages. But most of the historical artifacts, cultural and traditional heritages of both recognized and unrecognized ethnicity groups in Myanmar cannot be seen in major museums. Some of the strong evidence of coexisted religions and cultural relics are purposefully destroyed or hidden. Some of the non-Buddhist artifacts are displayed as Buddhist ones, along with wrong labels. The Nan Phayar in Bagan is one popular relic.  The old sand stone pagoda built as a Hindu shrine in the 11th century has a statue of the Brahma God of Hindu. The three-head statue which crouches on the wall can be seen easily, but the government and religious leaders portray the place as a Buddhist temple. Some of the historical artifacts were intentionallydestroyed to hide the religious facts of Burma.   

Articles
2022-05-11

Author profile - Andi Achdian Andi Achdian is an assistant-professor at Sociology Department, Faculty of Social and Political Science, Universitas Nasional.  He is also the head of Omah Munir Foundation.   About Munir Human Rights Museum The Munir Human Rights Museum was originally established with the name Omah Munir (House of Munir) Human Rights Museum by the Omah Munir Human Rights Foundation in 2013 in the city of Batu, East Java, where Munir was born and raised.  The establishment of the Museum is to promote human rights education for Indonesians, especially the youths to nurture peace-loving citizens that respects human rights and upholds the principles of tolerance and equality.  Introduction The New Order regime collapsed in May 1998. After ruling more than three decades, General Suharto resigned, replaced by the vice president B.J. Habibie who is committed to taking Indonesian politics in a democratic direction. With the collapse of the New Order, political parties sprang up like mushrooms. The new era of the multiparty political system has been evolving to be the foundation of the democratization process in Indonesia to this day. However, not all the basic building blocks of the regime disappeared. Some of the regime's legacy persist in contemporary Indonesian politics. One of them is the conception of the history of modern Indonesia that features the role of the military, specifically the army, as a key force to save Indonesia from the communist threat in 1965. This historical narrative span more broadly after the army succeeded in fully controlling political power towards the 1970s. The narrative was no longer about the success of the army in crushing the communist movement but also emphasized that Indonesian independence was the main achievement of the army in struggling against the Dutch. The role of the anti-colonial movement activists such as Sukarno, Hatta, and Sjahrir slowly faded away, replaced by the role of the army and their heroism in the war of independence. In her study of the 20th century modern Indonesian historical narrative, Katherine McGregor (2007) aptly describes it as “history in uniform” to picture how the construction of official Indonesian history that promotes the role of the army was built during the New Order period. This gave us clues that apart from its use for progressive and liberating activism, a museum can also be used by ruling regimes to grease the wheels of the reactionary false historical consciousness of authoritarian rulers. The architect behind it was Nugroho Notosusanto, an academic and military historian who later became the minister of education during the New Order era. Under his direction, the historical narrative is supported by the construction of museums and monuments in various big cities in Indonesia that remind the public of the services and important role of the army. Movement Against Forgetting Under the New Order regime, museums have gone beyond their conventional definition as places to store "objects of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific interest" (Oxford Dictionary), to become an instrument of power that legitimizes the historical role of the regime. There came efforts to dismantle this narrative not long after the 1998 reformation. In early 2000, the narratives promoted by independent historians in Indonesia became polemics. Asvi Warman Adam was one of the main figures who proposed “rectification of history” (Adam, 2004).  In highlighting the role of the army, the official narrative of the 1965 event was then juxtaposed with the narrative of the killing of hundreds of thousands of communists and those accused of being communists in various places in Indonesia. However, this new wave was still limited as an academic discourse circulating in limited circles. The New Order’s official narrative was still the dominant version, supported by history texts in elementary and secondary schools, films, and especially in the New Order’s museums and monuments that remain to the present. Another challenge came from human rights activists and the pro-democracy movement as they attempted to strengthen the public's memory of what happened back in 1998 when Indonesia was under economic and political crisis. On December 10, 2014, activists and academics from the Trisakti University inaugurated the May 12, 1998 Tragedy Monument coinciding with the world human rights commemorates. The monument is made of black ceramic in a 3 meter-height as an effort to commemorate four students shot dead by security forces during a student demonstration on their campus. At the same time, Komnas Perempuan (the National Commission on Violence Against Women) made the May 1998 Tragedy Inscription as part of an effort to remember the violence and rapes against Chinese women. Volunteers conveyed the rapes of Chinese women to the media and the stories became controversial at the beginning of the reformation. The government responded by forming a Joint Fact-Finding Team (TPGF) to explore the facts surrounding the issue. However, they did not find any supporting "evidence" about the mass rape cases, and the government officially denied that it ever happened. Responding to the government's response, Ita Martadinata as a young volunteer, citizen of Chinese descent and a victim in the incident, planned to give testimony before the United States Congress. However, before her departure to the US, she was found murdered, and the story of the mass rape of Chinese women was forgotten. The May 1998 Tragedy Inscription is a witness that reminds the public of this history. Meanwhile, in the westernmost region of Indonesia of Aceh Darussalam, a more phenomenal step was taken by several NGO organizations in 2011 by building the Aceh Human Rights Museum. The museum is small. They built panels in the yard of the Tikar Pandan Community office which displayed narrations of shootings against residents protesting at Simpang KKA, people who went missing during the conflict, and the houses "rumoh geudong" where soldiers tortured people suspected of being the Free Aceh Movement sympathizers. It’s a simple museum, but with a great mission as stated in their manifesto: We believe that small lights will always keep a sign in dark spaces. So, we built a sanctuary of memory; so that we, the women and men of Aceh, who live and die, who are raped and slaughtered, who are tortured and obliterated, raise a voice that goes beyond life and death: Never again! Aceh bek le lagee njan! Aceh never again! In short, political reformation in Indonesia has opened the door for human rights activists and pro-democracy movements in Indonesia to create new historical narratives aside from the official one. They use the main slogan "against forgetting" to respond to the prevailing culture of impunity in Indonesia that allows perpetrators of past human rights crimes to still breathe free air. The movement against forgetting through museums and monuments eventually became an initiative to counter the government's neglect of these crimes. Omah Munir Another account that illustrates how museums become an arena for activism is through the ongoing construction of the Munir Human Rights Museum in Batu City, Malang, East Java. I will describe here briefly from my own point of view as member of Omah Munir Foundation’s member. It starts with the stories on gross human rights violations in Indonesia similar to what happened to Munir Said Talib (1965-2004), a prominent Indonesian human rights lawyer who was murdered on September 7, 2004, on his way to the Netherlands for his further studies. Besides the fact that the reformation has opened the political faucet for democratization in Indonesia, Munir's death is a wake-up call for many Indonesians that the old regime legacies remain entrenched in their contemporary life. His case trials could only imprison the field operators, but key figures coming from high-ranking military and intelligence officials remained free from legal sentences. Impunity was back in power in this case. In 2013, Suciwati contacted me while I had just completed the establishment of a police museum in Indonesia. She expressed a desire to build a museum dedicated to her husband and the struggle for human rights in Indonesia. I know Munir quite closely. He was an old colleague when I worked under his leadership at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute. I saw Suciwati's proposal as a brilliant idea, emphasizing the importance of museums as an “engaged of protest” arena, as exemplified in the establishment of the National Museum of the American Indian in the 1980s and the civil rights movement in the United States (Kyle Message, 2013). The question is how do we finance the plan? Museum is an expensive project with the involvement of architects, construction engineers, and historians, and it became a formidable challenge. The first solution came from Suciwati who gave up her house with the late Munir in Batu City, East Java Province, as a museum. It was a small house of no more than about 400 square meters including a yard and house buildings. Although small, it has a significant historical value and a good underpinning to start the initiative. By mid-2013, Suciwati planned to gain wider support. The idea of building a museum that talks about Munir's life and the history of the human rights struggle in Indonesia has become viral. Young activists joined, as did artists and media celebrities, including politicians and public officials who sympathized with Munir, for example, Lukman Hakim Syaifuddin (who later became Minister of Religion) and Dahlan Iskan, owner of a media network who became Minister of State-Owned Enterprises. The development of museum eventually has provided a kind of engagement of a wider network in democratic movement in Indonesia.   The process of building this museum has finally opened a new way of campaigning for human rights in Indonesia. People previously distant from human rights and democratization issues suddenly appeared to involve by giving their time, energy, and funds in a joint project. This seems to represent Sidney Tarrow’s idea (2011) about modular collective action which brings together various parts previously separated in a joint action among civil society. Entering the end of the year, the museum building was complete, and it was officially opened to the public under the name Omah Munir (literally Munir's House) on December 8, 2013. What was previously just a dream, has finally come true. The Omah Munir Foundation consisting of the initiators of the museum was later established for the purpose of management. Omah Munir is a project that directly challenges the official and conservative historical narrative that has been lasting for decades. The museum provides a counter experience to the established historical narrative. As visitors arrive at the museum, they will meet the bust of Munir donated by a sculptor while the museum was under construction. Visitors are then taken to see a flow of historical narratives presenting about the birth of the human rights movement in Indonesia through the formation of YPHAM (Human Rights Care Foundation) and YLBHI not long after the birth of the New Order. The fact that YPHAM is an organization that actively defends communist political prisoners and campaigns for justice has challenged the official narrative of the army's success in crushing the communist movement. Another story in the museum also features a female worker, Marsinah, who was killed in an interrogation process by the military for her involvement in leading a labor strike. The presentation of her story in Omah Munir is also a reminder for visitors about the achievement of Indonesia's development which must be repaid with the sweat and blood of the workers. Other stories highlight incidents of gross human rights violations in Indonesia, such as enforced disappearances and political killings as in Papua and East Timor (now an independent state). It for certain includes Munir's personal story and his life journey as a human rights defender, and the murder incident against him as well. Since its official opening on December 8, 2013, Omah Munir has received visitors from various backgrounds and of all ages. However, university students and young students make the highest number of visitors. They see their visits as part of the human rights learning process in schools and universities. After five years, it is interesting to reflect that museum could be an effective medium for campaign activities of human rights institutions for instilling important universal human rights norms in the lives of Indonesian people. Munir Human Rights Museum The fact that providing alternative discourse to the conservative historical narrative by a small museum like Omah Munir was undeniably limited. In 2018, Omah Munir management board has begun to consider the importance to develop cooperation with government to enhance and develop Omah Munir’s museum into bigger human rights museum in terms of building, infrastructure, program, as well as support system. This step was quite successful by having the government's commitment to fund the construction of a museum as provided by the East Java provincial government, and land as provided by the Batu city government. In addition, the management board elaborated a wider collaboration with other elements of civil society. There were three main activities on this regard. Firstly, cooperation with Indonesian Architects Association (AAI) to organize museum design competition to build public awareness about the importance of human rights museum. The result was an attractive design by the architect Achmad Deni Tardiyana (Apep) with an eco-friendly and sensitive to diffable. Secondly, Omah Munir Foundation was also collaborating with the Jakarta Arts Institute to hold a competition of creating artworks to be displayed at the museum. Thirdly, Omah Munir has also organized consultative meetings with environmental activists, journalists, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and women activists to explore the possible narrative and themes for the museum. The points from this meeting then resulted in a key issue for museum curatorial development. The first floor is specially designed for children to recognize important values such as tolerance, freedom, and equality in public life. The second floor is for the history of human rights in Indonesia which brings content such as issues of gross human rights violations, the environment, indigenous peoples, women, and press freedom as proposed by civil society groups in Indonesia. The last floor is the stories about Munir and his initiatives such as the campaign about missing persons are on the third floor which is the last room for visitors to reflect on human rights issues in Indonesia. Collaborative works with government undeniably raised some questions about curatorial independency, especially in the issue of human rights. Does the future human rights museum will be able to stand with impartial integrity to the thorny case of gross human rights violence in Indonesia’s history?  Yet, some adjustment and changes did occur during this process. The first was the changing of museum name into Munir Human Rights Museum. But rather than signifying conformity to official view, it was intended to embrace a wider issue of human rights in Indonesia beyond the specific theme of human rights defender stories as represented in the previous museum. In terms of curatorial independency, thankfully the political climate in Indonesia still provides an open room to keep it.  Worst scenario might happen in the future. But one thing is certain from this experience. Museums and historical sites have become an important arena of social activism for human rights activists and pro-democracy movements in the reformation period. Time will tell whether this is an effective method to instill the importance of human rights values in the mind of Indonesia’s younger generation.  

2022-02-17

Author profile - Hsuwen Yuan(Emily) Hsuwen (Emily) is a research assistant of the Education Department, National Taiwan Museum(NTM), Taipei, Taiwan. Emily’s research mainly focuses on social inclusion and museum accessibility of international migration in Taiwan. She was assigned to start up the Immigration Docent Project within the museum in 2015. Immigration Docent Project provides multilingual tours (primarily Southeast Asian languages, English and Chinese) and helps the museum connect with migration communities. NTM and migration communities have achieved and initiated art festivals of Southeast Asian countries, exhibitions, educational activities, and interpretation of collections from Southeast Asian countries. The two parties have worked closely since 2016. About National Taiwan Museum National Taiwan Museum, established in 1908, is the oldest museum in Taiwan. In 1915, after two years of construction, the museum was completed, and it is one of the most noteworthy public buildings in Taiwan.For over a century, the museum has been standing in front of the Taipei Railway Station and has a rich collection, and its unique geographical position has made the National Taiwan Museum an essential landmark in Taipei. The collection and research in the museum continue to focus on the research of anthropology, earth sciences, zoology, botany, cultural diversity, and social inclusion to respond to the latest social trends the growing number of cross-national migrations. Through themed exhibitions, educational activities, publications, and various cross-cultural plans, the museum has achieved its educational goal to serve the public with diverse cultural backgrounds. Preface The National Human Rights Museum (NHRM) of Taiwan is a significant memorial place to remind Taiwanese never to forget the White Terror period, critical to Taiwan's democratic development and progress. The museum serves as an education center for the history of human rights violations, supports human rights issues, promotes human rights causes, and instills universal values to safeguard democracy and human rights in Taiwan. An essential affiliation of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) established and based its Asian-Pacific (FIHRM-AP) branch in the National Human Rights Museum of Taiwan with the support and recognition of FIHRN and related organizations, NGOs and professionals, . NHRM and FIHRM-AP now have new missions to put domestic human rights issues under the global context of transnational migration and human rights concerns. The two have been addressing international human rights issues by building networks while serving as a platform/bridge to facilitate dialogues between governments, NGOs, museums, and transnational migration communities in Taiwan. Meanwhile, it is the first time that museum practitioners and NGOs workers engaged in face-to-face discussions, examined and worked together on international migration and human rights issues in Taiwan. The Purpose and Inception of the Forum and Workshop Contemporary museums now face multiple issues imposed by international migration flowing into destination cities. The primary concerns of this forum are how museums welcome migrants and counter stereotypes, discrimination, and xenophobia through cross-cultural dialogues. How do museums build up migration and human rights archives, maintain historical sites and artifacts, and safekeep personal items, stories, and collective memories? After profound discussion throughout this 3-day forum and workshop, a multitude of perspectives and experiences from Taiwan, Australia, India, the USA, Bangladesh, Tibet, and South Sudan informed a wide range of museology based practices, theories, and experiences responding to the rise of global migration and related human rights issues.   Program on October 20th: The Network of Museums for Migrants and Social Justice Session 1: Developing a Program for Communication between Museums, Migrant (Workers) Community and the Public Ms. Rohini Kappadath, General Manager, Immigration Museum, Museums Victoria, Australia, elaborated the following methods as the foundation for museum to practice human rights, such as: Recognizing the new roles of museums; Inspecting the obsolete museum policies Constantly asking ourselves if we are tuned in to the voices of migration communities that we intend to work with in the future. Rohini shared plenty of her work methodologies out her years of experiences at the Immigration Museum in Australia. The following two speakers, Hsu-wen Yuan (Emily) and Ying-Hsuan Li, are from Taiwan. They presented the latest museum policies of the National Taiwan Museum and Kaohsiung Museum of Labor. The first wave of migrant workers from the Southeast Asia (SEA) region arrived in Taiwan in the 1990s. As of 2021, there are over seven hundred thousand migrant workers and three hundred thousand immigrants from the SEA region in Taiwan. Migrant workers came to Taiwan to fulfill the demands from the infrastructure construction, offshore fisheries, manufacture industries, and domestic care. A majority of SEA immigrants came to Taiwan through marriage, and they became the fundamental source of labor and members of family units. However, Taiwan society has been entrenched in a culture of looking down on immigrants from the SEA region. Due to cultural and language barriers, stereotypes, and prejudices, these migrant workers and immigrants (foreign spouses) have been constantly misunderstood and mistreated in Taiwan. One of the oldest museum established in Taiwan, the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei initiated the “Museum Tour in Multiple Languages Project” in 2015 which recruited SEA immigrants as museum docents to offer fellow migrants from the same region a museum experience without language barrier (Figure 1). Moreover, the museum also reached out to the migrant worker communities, and co-organized multicultural festivals with members of the communities hosting and arranging the programs (Figure 2). Thus, the immigrants and migrant workers can freely express and showcase the beauty of their cultures in the National Taiwan Museum.

2022-02-17

Author Profile - Tracy Puklowski Tracy Puklowski is currently based in Alice Springs, Australia, where she is responsible for the development of the country’s first National Aboriginal Art Gallery. Previously she was the General Manager of Creative Arts and Cultural Services in Launceston, Tasmania, which included Directorship of the Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery, Australia’s largest regional cultural institution.Prior to moving to Australia, Tracy held a range of senior leadership roles in New Zealand’s GLAM sector. She is a graduate of the Getty’s Museum Leadership Institute. About The National Aboriginal Art Gallery The National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Mparntwe/Alice Springs will be an iconic destination presenting stories from the world’s oldest living culture in a new space in the heart of Australia, and will provide a showcase for Aboriginal people to present and celebrate their achievements through art.The Gallery will play a pivotal role in Australia’s journey of truth-telling, and is committed to ensuring majority Aboriginal governance, management and workforce. In this way, the Gallery will be a vehicle for Aboriginal people to tell their stories to the world, investing them with agency to determine how those stories are told. The establishment of FIHRM-Asia Pacific in 2019 was a pivotal moment in the global recognition of the importance of human rights to museum discourse and practice. Regionally focused branches of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums serve to amplify often unheard voices, providing vital platforms for identifying and addressing regionally specific human rights issues. In this article I trace my own involvement with FIHRM and reflect on how tackling human rights issues must shift from the margins to the core, for all of us. When the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM) was launched in 2010 I was honoured to be invited to become an inaugural council member. It was an exciting and timely initiative; social justice issues had been coming increasingly to the fore for museums, but this was the first collective international response to human rights. However, my conscience twinged a little. Did I have the right to claim on behalf of my then-museum, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa), that we were a ‘human rights museum’? What was a human rights museum, anyway? I hoped I hadn’t unwittingly put us in the position of imposter. After reflecting on our history and values as a museum I concluded that being a human rights museum didn’t require a specific human rights mandate. Te Papa’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and a willingness to tackle challenging issues meant that we could rightfully take our place at the table. I wrote about this in 2015 when I chaired the FIHRM conference: “Social justice, human rights, and access in its broadest sense…are not add-ons, opt-ins, or opt-outs for Te Papa. They are at the very heart of the museum’s genealogy, or whakapapa. The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Act was passed in 1992 and laid a firm foundation for a museum that would do things differently… When the Board of the Museum adopted a Bicultural Policy…it resolved to require the expression of biculturalism within all areas of the museum. Add to that the fact that Te Papa’s Vision is Changing Hearts, Changing Minds, Changing Lives, and you have a museum that is hard-wired to engage with the challenging and the uncomfortable, a museum that must be prepared to take a stance if it truly hopes to create transformative experiences for its visitors, its communities, and even for its staff. As the FIHRM website states, human rights museums must be prepared to challenge traditional museum thinking and practice. For this reason, I consider Te Papa to be a human rights museum, and I look forward to welcoming our delegates in September.” [1] It's interesting to note that I had written this based on the premise that some museums might consider human rights a non-essential area and need to be coaxed to see themselves in this light. Perhaps they needed to justify a commitment to human rights, as I had initially found myself doing in 2010. In that same piece I also noted that the context within which museums operate was changing ‘rapidly and dramatically’. At the time I was referring to the cultural and political landscape in New Zealand; I couldn’t possibly have foreseen just how rapid and dramatic things would get in the years to come, for all of us. These ‘things’ are global, life-changing, paradigm shifts with consequences for our shared humanity; and they demand a radical response. The 2019 ICOM project to create a new museum definition was kindled by an acknowledgement that the current definition did not “reflect and express adequately the complexities of the 21st century and the current responsibilities and commitments of museums, nor their challenges and visions for the future”. [2] Many of us observed the resulting squabbles with bemusement and eventual exasperation as words and differing values tumbled into an ideological crevasse. One can only hope that the events of the past two years will serve as a catalyst for museological solidarity at Prague in 2022, when the topic will be debated again. How could it be otherwise? Global events, museum audiences, and communities of interest aren’t sitting around waiting for museums to decide whether we’ve defined ourselves correctly. The changes and challenges of recent years aren’t just on our doorstep – they’re roaming the galleries, inspecting the books, and staring us down. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27: 1 Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. We are all still in the midst of a global pandemic that has changed life as we know it, forever. Museums and galleries have done much more than simply ‘pivot’ in response, they have spun on a dime; navigating lockdowns, directing new energy to online learning, experiences and participation, managing spaces and crowds, and some sadly faced with the reality of having to close for good.  The pandemic is democratic in that no-one is immune from its impact, yet it is also a great friend of inequity, exacerbating poverty and disadvantage. And so it follows that the museums most likely to close permanently are the smaller ones that have always struggled for resources; the ones that hold the memories and tell the stories of small, close-knit communities, and that link people and their communities to their histories and traditions.  We are reminded then, of our responsibility to work and for communities, to preserve their memories, and to share their stories. We must continue to remove barriers to access and to co-create rather than dominate. We have been tasked with the challenge and privilege of working with communities and individuals to capture this extraordinary moment in time for the future, and to help rebuild and heal in the wake of this profound shared human experience. The therapeutic power of art isn’t a new idea, nor is the concept that museums can be safe (and necessary) places to gather in the wake of trauma, or to confront and memorialise traumatic events. But things run far deeper this time; the local has become global, and vice-versa. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 3 Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 25: 1 Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. The global climate emergency is another threat to our way of life and is a significant human rights emergency. Climate change threatens food security, housing, and life itself. Small island nations are the most physically vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, despite making a far smaller contribution to its causes than other countries. This is a very specific threat within the Asia-Pacific region. All museums have a role to play in raising awareness about climate change and taking action, particularly as guardians of evidence within a ‘post-truth’ world where scientists have to defend science facts. When I was the Director of Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery (QVMAG) in Tasmania, our scientists were finding animals (insects) moving further and further south, in response to a warming environment. That evidence, coupled with our local authority’s declaration of a climate emergency [3], made the decision to make climate change a central focus for the museum, an easy one. However, it is not just about collections-based knowledge and evidence, it is about behaviours. The Horniman Museum and Gardens adopted a far-reaching climate change manifesto in early 2020 that focuses not only on working with audiences to raise awareness and change behaviours, but that also challenges the museum to look at its own habits and activities. Museums must consider their own contributions to climate change – how do we use our resources? Are we planning sustainable buildings? Do our sponsors align with our values? Recent debate over fossil fuel companies’ sponsorship of museums aren’t happening in the boardroom; they are happening in public. What about the needs of climate refugees? If you thought that was an issue for the future, you’re wrong. It’s happening now; in 2020 30.7 million people were displaced globally, and over 98% of them were the result of weather-related hazards. [4] Thousands of Marshall Islands residents have been relocated to parts of the US where they face a new challenge of maintaining their connections to culture and tradition. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 7 All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. The use of force by police against people of colour sparked global protests and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Initially focusing on police brutality and violence, the movement broadened in scope as it gained global traction, encompassing issues relating to systemic racism and the long tail of colonialism.  This in turn shone a glaring light on the history and practices of museums. There’s nothing necessarily new about interrogating aspects of museum practice; official calls for the British Museum to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece date back to the early 1980s, and Maurice Berger posed the question Are Art Museums Racist? in 1990. However, these matters have never been as swept up in the zeitgeist as they are at this moment.  Groups such as Decolonize This Place and BP or not BP actively take over museum spaces with performative interventions that call attention to sponsorship, repatriation, acquisition practices, indigenous agency, and working conditions of staff.  Vice media’s The Unfiltered History Tour explores the stories of ‘disputed artefacts’ in the British Museum. [5] Former staff of a number of cultural institutions have spoken out in recent years against workplace inequity and structural racism, including - in a horrible irony - the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The voices of source communities are growing louder as they demand the rightful return of their cultural treasures. In 2018 descendants from Rapa Nui travelled to the British Museum to request the return of Hoa Hakananai’a, their tupuna (ancestor). In The Unfiltered History Tour episode devoted to the colonial theft of Hoa Hakananai’a’, Talita Rapu (descendant and Governor of Rapa Nui) states poignantly, “Rapa Nui have the body but you have the soul. We walk through this world without our soul, as an empty body”[6]. Many of us who have worked with indigenous collections recognise that the spirit of cultural material resides with communities, families, and descendants. But why shouldn’t this be the norm rather than the exception? If the reunion of ‘body and soul’ is the best outcome as determined by the traditional owners, on what grounds can a museum possibly argue? If we are not willing to actively decouple ourselves from the practices of colonialism, then surely we are guilty of compounding its consequences. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Article 3 We have the right to self-determination. We are free to choose our political status and our economic, social and cultural development.   I find myself in the curious position of writing this article whilst living in a country (Australia) that has no Bill of Rights at a Federal level, although individual States are increasingly developing their own responses to ensuring the human rights of their citizens. Whilst the situation might be less than idea, it does place the responsibility of upholding and giving meaning to human rights back to individuals and organisations. I’m also establishing a new cultural entity, a National Aboriginal Art Gallery for Australia. It’s going to be built in Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory. It is a place that is at once beautiful and confronting, distinguished by culture and art, as well as intergenerational disadvantage and trauma. Australia’s First Peoples[7] represent the oldest continuing living culture on earth, with a visual culture that is enduring yet dynamic. When Aboriginal art moved from sand and rock to board and canvas, the course of Australian art history changed irrevocably, capturing the imaginations of audiences worldwide. It provided social, economic, cultural and spiritual benefits for the artists and their communities, brought Aboriginal stories and histories to new audiences, and strengthened cultural connections. To me, the Northern Territory, my current home, is the largest living Art Gallery in the world. The artistic vibrancy is inescapable. The Northern Territory also has the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia, and nearly 45% of all Aboriginal households live below the poverty line. [8] The youth suicide rate is three times the national average.[9] Approximately 85 per cent of the Northern Territory’s prison population are Indigenous people. [10] So the question I pose myself now is not whether a Gallery such as the National Aboriginal Art Gallery (or anyplace, for that matter) should fight for human rights; it’s how we will do that. This will require us to re-imagine and redesign our very ecosystems if we are to have and make meaning. For the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, that means a commitment to First Peoples’ Principles of ensuring majority Aboriginal governance, management, and workforce. It means committing to voice, agency, and shared authority, and to the truth-telling that Australia needs if it is to start healing from the past and heading towards national reconciliation. The usual gallery/museum paradigm with some bits tacked on won’t get close to achieving any of this. We are inexorably connected to the global events and human rights challenges outlined in this paper, regardless of size, location, or purpose. The majority of cultural institutions have been audience-focused for many years, and placing the audience at the heart of our thinking has reaped huge benefits – better engagement, greater relevance, and much more. But it’s time for another step forward now. We must learn to be humanity-focused. And that starts with accepting that human rights and the dignity of all people, is the responsibility of us all.

Current Events
2021-08-16

Jul. 29th 2021-Aug. 13th 2022 Shared Journeys History is often presented as a single narrative that unfolds on a linear path, from one event to another. These ‘grand narratives’ of history are often shaped by entrenched ideologies, victors’ perspectives, colonial legacies, patriarchal values, and contested identities.   The Shared Journeys exhibition aims to decolonize the mind and the exclusive history, by bringing to light hidden, marginalized, or lost histories, and the stories of people that have lived them. The Shared Journeys exhibition includes the work of 12 member organizations of the Asian and Pacific Sites of Conscience Network, representing seven countries.   Afghanistan The Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, AHRDO, initiated the “Memory Boxes” project in 2011 that is to collect records of thousands of items, such as the victim’s belongings, narratives, and stories from different conflicting periods at various locations, in order to challenges the deep-seated culture of impunity, public amnesia and a policy of forgetting the past.   Participating Organizations: The Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization     Tibet In the seven decades since 1951, the rise in the number of Tibetans protesting and committing self-immolation, the religious repression and cultural genocide continues within Tibet; monitoring and surveillance of citizens’ activities is at unprecedented levels; language rights are denied; and enforced disappearances and arrests are commonplace. The Exhibits highlight hidden histories that contest the CCP’s narratives.   Participating Organizations: Tibet Museum     Taiwan In 1989, Taiwan introduced the first group of migrant workers from Southeast Asia and it has steadily grown since the passing of the Employment Services Act in 1992. Today the migrant worker population in Taiwan exceeds 710,000. Despite being an important driver of the economy, they are either invisible to the general public or simply treated as work-horses who when they are no longer fit to work, run away rather than being repatriated to resort to a life of crime or become victims of violence. Through the oral histories of four migrant workers and their life stories, this exhibit contests that popular narrative.   Participating Organizations: National Human Rights Museum     Cambodia The exhibits from Cambodia focus on survivors’ narratives from the period of history dominated by the Khmer Rouge, especially the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, and the continuing need for memorializing the victims of violence through inter-generational dialogue   Participating Organizations: The Peace Institute of Cambodia Youth for Peace Cambodia Kdei-Karuna     Bangladesh During the Liberation war of 1971, the Pakistani Army, together with their local collaborators used sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war. The objective was cultural genocide, a change in ethno-linguistic identity through Pakistani children born to Bengali women. This exhibition showcases the stories of survivors of sexual and gender based violence that speak their truths to demystify the humiliation and public shame placed on the victim.   Participating Organizations: Liberation War Museum     Sri Lanka After 26 years of conflicts, “The Herstories Project” of Sri Lanka archived with 285 women’s stories collected between 2012 and 2013. It is a deliberate effort to narratives of war and to give voice to women in conflict. “The International Centre for Ethnic Studies” uses comics as a means of creating a space for irrevocably divided communities. This oral history project by the Institute for “Social Development” captures stories of re-migration and internal displacement of estate-sector Tamil communities. This exhibit traces the history of migration through three stories of (re)migration.   Participating Organizations: The Herstories Project The International Centre for Ethnic Studies The Institute for Social Development     Nepal The human toll of the ‘People’s War’ (1996-2006) in Nepal was profound; over 17,000 people were killed, 1,500 disappeared and an estimated 20,000 tortured. Almost eight years passed before any transitional justice mechanism was formalized when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances were legally mandated by Parliament. Both the commissions failed to address the need of the victims’ families. Both, the Network of Families of the Disappeared and Voices of Women Nepal work on transitional justice issues and believe in advocating for a victim-centered approach. Their work contests historical memories of the conflict through story-telling.    Participating Organizations: Network of Families of the Disappeared, Nepal Voices of Women Media   This exhibition serves to remind us that history is also perspective. These stories are not unique, and their impact is not just localized to a specific country. They are histories of our world.