Women Make Waves International Film Festival 2022- Touring Film Screening and Post-screening Talk Series
NHRM collaborates with Women Make Waves International Film Festival 2022 to screen three films on the theme of Taiwanese family and gender roles. There will be a post-screening with the director after each screening. We hope that viewers can have a deeper understanding of the “happening” changes in Taiwanese family relations, role identities, gender equality, and cultural identity.
Film 1: American Girl
Online Registration: https://reurl.cc/bE0KLd
Film 2: Incense Fire
Online Registration: https://reurl.cc/rRMOpE
Film 3: Can You Hear Me?
Online Registration: https://reurl.cc/vWVRyA
A Better Future for Every Child – International Children’s Right Day 2022
To celebrate this year's International Children's Right Day, NHRM has organized a series of diverse types of children's human rights education-themed activities from September to December 2022.
This year marks the third year since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the epidemic slows, many countries have gradually eased the prevention restrictions. Issues of children's rights violations due to the pandemic have also surfaced. Schools closed, and online learning has unexpectedly revealed that students in specific areas lack learning resources; some children even drop out of school. Some children can't be vaccinated. The Russo-Ukrainian War forced countless Ukrainian children to leave their hometowns, away from their caring relatives, and out of school. The safety and rights of children are challenged.
Children worldwide endured the COVID-19 pandemic for the past few years, and some faced war. On International Children's Rights Day, NHRM urges everyone to join us in fighting for children's rights. May there be a better future for every child.
Picture Book Lecture
I am a Child and I Have Rights
Time: Nov. 20th, 2022 1000-1200
Venue: Tourist Center, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
Online registration starts from Nov. 1st
In this Corner of the World
Time: Oct. 22nd, 2022 1330-1630
Venue: Tourist Center, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
Online registration: https://www.accupass.com/event/2208151056297590882710
The German Lesson
Time: Nov. 20th, 2022 1330-1630
Venue: Tourist Center, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
Online registration starts from Nov. 1st
Time: Nov. 20th, 2022 1330-1430
Venue: Auditorium, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
Online registration starts from Nov. 1st
Life Story of Uong'e Yatauyungana
Time: Dec. 10th, 2022 1330-1430
Venue: Auditorium, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
Online registration starts from Nov. 1st
2-Day Workshop for children under 12 and 13-18
Time: Nov. 5th & 6th 0930-1600
Venue: Tourist Center, Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
Online registration: https://www.accupass.com/event/2209120927291847935816
Photo Exhibition "Endless Escape: Fleeing Myanmar to Thailand”
4 October – 6 November 2022 @ Curved Wall, 4th floor, BACC
Since the coup d’état led by General Min Aung Hlaing in February 2021, many have been displaced within Myanmar and across borders. Hostilities and armed conflict in Myanmar, especially Chin State, Sagaing and Magway Regions in northwestern; Karen and Karenni (Kayah) States in southeast, have forced a considerable number of people to flee. According to the UN, in a year and half at least 986,000 people have been newly displaced internally, adding to the 370,000 who had previously left their homes. An additional 47,200 are estimated to have crossed over to neighboring countries or settled along the border.
As of February 2022, the Thai government estimated that 17,000 Myanmar refugees had crossed into Thailand. These can be broadly defined into two groups: internally displaced villagers in bordering states seeking temporary refuge due to intensified conflict; and CDM protestors and high-profile individuals seeking longer-term refuge, whether in Thailand or third countries. The photo exhibition “Endless Escape: Fleeing Myanmar to Thailand,” held by SEA Junction in collaboration with Asia Democracy Network on the 4th floor of BACC, focuses on the first group. Aung Naing Soe, Visual Rebellion, Yan Naing Aung and Zin Koko capture the cross-over into Thailand and the settling along the 1,500 km porous borders when fighting and airstrikes became particularly intense such as in December 2021 and March 2022. Few photos also show Mae La, the largest refugee camp of the nine along the Thai-Myanmar border that was established in 1984 to remind us of the “endless escape” of Myanmar people from violence and the plight of new generations growing up in camps excluded from the wider society.
Realizing this hopefully encourage us to do more to sustain a democratic Myanmar and to integrate displaced peoples and refugees in our midst. On the short term the extensive humanitarian needs of people in temporary settlements along the border including access to safe drinking water, medicine, and sanitation facilities ought to be met.
The exhibition will be officially launched with a discussion on 8 October 2022, 5.00-6.30 pm with the speakers/photographers listed below
- Patrick Phongsathorn, Human Rights Advocacy Specialist at Fortify Rights
- Aung Naing Soe, Multimedia Journalist
- Laure Siegel, Founder of Visual Rebellion Myanmar
- Yan Naing Aung, Photojournalist
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions- from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information, see www.seajunction.org.
Asia Democracy Network (ADN) is active in more than 40 countries in Asia. Our core values are to promote and practice the principles of democracy through the development of inclusive governance, advancement of human rights, equality and inclusivity, prevention of discrimination, human security, promotion of free, fair and meaningful elections, democracy education, & press freedom and responsibility. For more information, see https://adnasia.org.
Means Without End
Means Without End
Date: Saturday 28 May 2022 to Sunday 17 July 2022
Time: Open 11am to 5pm Wednesday to Saturday, and 1pm to 5pm on Sundays
Location: Counihan Gallery, 233 Sydney Road (inside Brunswick Town Hall), Brunswick
'Means Without End' offers a unique opportunity to view two recent projects by artist Hoda Afshar side by side.
'Remain' (2018) is a series of photographic portraits of men who were detained on Manus Island. The collaborative project involves these men retelling their individual and shared stories through staged images, words, and poetry. 'Agonistes' (2020) is a tribute to whistle-blowers who have spoken out in the name of truth and justice. They did so at a terrible personal cost.
Hoda Afshar was Born in Iran and is now based in Narrm (Melbourne). She began her career as a documentary photographer. This influences her poetic investigation into the representation of gender, marginality, and displacement. Afshar is also a member of Eleven, a collective of contemporary Muslim Australian artists, curators, and writers. Eleven challenges the current politics of representation and power.
This exhibition includes video and sound content. Because of the varied sensory experience on display, this exhibition may be a difficult environment for visitors who experience sensory overload.
Content note: This exhibition includes mentions of suicide, abuse and mental health issues.
Phone: 03 9389 8622
For exhibition updates you can follow the Counihan Gallery Instagram Page. You can also go to the Counihan Gallery Facebook pagethe Counihan Gallery Facebook Page.
Hoda Afshar is represented by Milani Gallery. To find out more, visit the Milani Gallery website.
There is a Counihan Gallery Learning Resource to accompany this exhibition. To download your copy, visit our Learning at the Counuhan Gallery Page.
Means Without End is in the New Gallery.
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
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.
The annual gathering of the ICOM (International Committee of Museum) general conference has just successfully taken a bow, ending its rendition on August 28th in Prague, Czech Republic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after almost three years of waiting, the 28th edition of the general conference, titled 'The Power of Museums,' brought along topics that are not only emergent to the museum communities but also the society. There were four overarching and close-knitted topics put onto the main stage: Purpose: Museums and Civil Society, Sustainability: Museums and Resilience, Vision: Museums and Leadership, Delivery: Museums and New Technologies, seeking to provide a holistic discussion on how museums as a community can better engage in more than cultural events.
As a part of the community, the National Human Rights Museum of Taiwan has also participated in the conference, presenting an in-house participatory education method to our exhibitions, leading the way to foster more understanding and acknowledging the ongoings of transitional justice. During three days of the conference, following the topics ICMEMO (International Committee of Memorial Museums in Remembrance of the Victims of Public Crimes) presented, a few pressing issues were brought up and needed our closer attention.
Museum and Self-empowerment: Providing Aids in The Time of War
On February 24th, the Russian army started to use military force to invade the Eastern part of Ukraine, killing tens of thousands and more. Since then, Ukrainian cultural institutions have been under attack, and archival and memory preservation conditions have become extremely dire. Marta Havryschko, director of the Barby Yarn Interdisciplinary Studies institute, fled from Ukraine to Switzerland, demonstrated a graph of the numbers of pieces of culture that were either eradicated or damaged in the war: 36 museums, 165 buildings of religions, and 219 ancient buildings and counting. The war changed people's lives and living and the way how museums give support to the community. Museums and Institutions in Ukraine like Barby Yarn Memorial Centre started to provide shelter and warm meals, giving up salaries to defend human rights in Ukraine. In addition to providing civil support, the memorial centre started the mission of gathering testimonies against Russia with different law enforcement, such as the international court in the Hague and digitalizing Ukrainian archives. Data digitalization has become one of the most unavoidable and vital tasks in 21st-century museums; it is now proven more so in a time of war. Though the case of Ukraine is something no one would dare and imagine living in, Havryschko's demonstration of how Ukrainian museums and cultural institutions with such adversity indeed show the potentiality of museums being more than a place of learning.
Museum and Propaganda: Political Indoctrination in a Seemingly Neutral Space
As a vessel of culture and knowledge, museums carry a fair share of responsibilities in conveying information and communicating unprejudiced facts within either current or historical events. Ideas related to personal stories and experiences emerge when one is confronted with materials, be it an object or a text. It is shown in different studies that curation in museums or the museum itself is hardly a neutral act. Methods and placements tell a story from specific views. Using his experience founding the Museum of Second World War in Gdansk, Professor Pawel Machcewicz told a compelling example of how the right-wing influences in the state heavily dictated the museum's direction; information that did not display patriotism was a betrayal to the state. The establishing thus came to a halt and was put into more hurdles than ever. Cultural institutions built with state resources and not to say under a totalitarian regime risk the danger of having a single narrative. Following this direction, Voytech Kynci from the Academic Science of the Czech Republic reminded us that the sovietisation of his nation should not be forgotten and should be stressed as a difficult but essential past.
In a similar vein, Babara Thimm, the speaker from the former Khmer Rouge prison of S21 in Cambodia, now a museum that documents pains and hurts from the oppressive, dictatorial past under Khmer Rouge, mentioned their directorial method to deal with people questioning their efforts is to provide with factual materials and let the evidence speaks for itself. A refugee fleeing to the United States, Cuban artist Geandy Pavón also warned the public off from believing everything institutions in an oppressive regime could tell us.
Museum and Dialogue: Ever-evolving Exchanges to a Brighter Future
Museums in the 21st century are a space for the public. Despite still being an elite institution in some eyes, more and more educators are bringing participatory and bottom-up methods into museums to include more voices than their own. The museum needs to engage the public and bring in not just more narrative from the citizens but also contexts surrounding an era, historical events, and everyday life of people in the society. Telling stories different from the textbooks, museum practitioners from Portugal and Spain, Aeda Rechna and Almudena Cruz Yeba, both reiterated the importance of continuing to address uncomfortable histories, moreover, inviting the community to participate in memory-building, event-constructing, and re-discovering their cultural heritage. Dialoguing and exchanging discourses have become one of the most valuable tools for building the bridge between the unknown and unheard-of.
In her keynote speech about the museum and civil society, anthropologist and museologist Margarita Reyes Suárez further stressed to be aware of the capitalization and Americanisation of museums in tourism. Cultural heritage needs to be preserved in more ways than just incoming capital. In Suárez's passionate account of restoring the museum's responsibility to the people in the community, she also emphasized decolonizing museums through the western lens and giving more spaces to cultural diversity. "Museums should be a place that listens and where people are heard." She concluded.
In the same spirit, by demystifying queer people's existence in Czech Republic's past, Ladislav Jackson urged the museum community to steer away from heteronormative thinking of gender binary, taking careful but progressive steps in recognizing queer people's rights to life and rights to be remembered. Non-heterosexual people's lives and objects need to be documented and archived, just as every other fragment of history. Therefore, inclusivity for queer museum practitioners and researchers should also be given more weight and attention in the museum realm. Only by opening the channel to the commons and communities on which the museums stand on equality and more truthful documentary can slowly be achieved.
Throughout the development of the museum, starting with Alexandria, collecting and learning have always been its motive and purpose. The modern museum carries this duty with it and takes a more significant and inclusive stride for the citizens and users of the museum space. During the conference, it is shown that collectiveness in a society forms and signifies strength. The modern museums should, now more than ever, be a community and fortify the link between you, me, and everybody else.
Author Profile - Nathaporn Songsawas
Nathaporn Songsawas holds a B.A. in English and minor in Comparative Literature from Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. She is currently an independent writer and Human Rights Research Assistant at Cross Cultural Foundation, a Thailand-based nonprofit foundation working to ensure equal access to justice for all people in Thailand.
About Cross Cultural Foundation
Founded in 2002, The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) is a Thailand-based nonprofit foundation working to ensure equal access to justice for all people in Thailand and working very closely with international human rights networks to empower and include indigenous and minority populations. CrCF has focused on monitoring and investigating human rights abuses; advocating for and promoting a vision of justice that empowers people to understand and realize their rights; preventing torture; protecting human rights through legal strategies; and providing free legal aid and tangible assistance to vulnerable groups in Thailand’s southern border provinces.
“No matter how loud we cry out, they do not hear us.”
This quote is among the messages written on the kite-shaped canvas promising to bring voices from the Deep South of Thailand to other areas. It is one of the interactive art works displayed in Submerged—an art exhibition hosted in Patani, Thailand, during June 10-13th, 2022, to spread information and raise awareness on various human rights violations in the southernmost region of Thailand.
Facing the issue of climate change, what specific steps can museums take as the bridge connecting audiences to social issues? Echoing the theme of ICOM Prague 2022, the Power of Museums, the Federation of International Human Rights Museums-Asia Pacific (FIHRM-AP) continued the co-learning model of the Migration and Human Rights Workshop in 2020 and launched a series of co-learning sessions featuring the theme "Climate Change and Human Rights Issues". Over a period of five months, participants from 12 NGOs and 9 national museums invited by FIHRM-AP carried on their discussions through arrangements like monthly gatherings, field trips and workshops. Together, they formulated action plans in response to climate and human rights issues.
FIHRM-AP re-examined the similarities and differences between NGOs and museums
Aiming to facilitate the exchange on climate change and human rights issues, both parties of this program put their heads together to further advocate for the cause and explore action plans. At the first session of this co-learning program, Chen, Shi-ting, a researcher from the Green Citizens Action Alliance shed light on climate issues and demonstrated the advocacy and action advantages of civic groups in areas such as promoting policies, organizing press conferences and delivering training for teachers. On the museum side, Huang, Hsu-tsea, an associate researcher from the National Museum of Natural Science shared the case of curatorial strategy of "When the South Wind Blows--the Documentary Photography of Taixi Village", an exhibition featuring climate issues. By illustrating the museum's approach to the execution, discussion and research on the topic of climate issues, the full picture of the thinking behind the exhibition was provided as an example for reference. The format of a workshop provided the group with opportunities for discussion, allowing both parties to talk about and share the differences between museums and NGOs and the picture they have in mind. The conversation further encouraged the consideration of possible collaboration on joint actions for the same cause.
Playback Theater brought out different styles of communication and perspectives
Furthermore, are there any other methods of communication available for climate change issues besides NGOs' advocacy initiatives and museums' exhibitions? FIHRM-AP invited the Knowing Theater troupe to lead the discussion through improvised enactment on the spot. The power of theater enacting opened up room for more diverse ideas and interactions. Participants were first asked to share the aspects of climate issues which concerned them and with re-enactment as intervention, they reconsidered the day-to-day relationships between climate and people. The performance was presented to the viewers as a way of returning their input. Lastly, the theater leader Kao, Yu-chen and drama lecturer Chen, Cheng-yi shared cases of lesson plans for communities and schools. The format of "performance" offered new perspectives and room for discussion to museums and NGOs to help them communicate with visitors or those who engage with the issues.
About the Author Tadayuki Komai
Komai was born in Gose City City, Nara Prefecture, Japan in 1972. In 1998, he joined the museum as a member of staff since the opening of the Suiheisha History Museum and became the director in 2015. Through initiatives such as the ones organized by FIHRM and the "Memory of the World", he works to spread to the world the founding philosophy of Suiheisha. He is also teaching human rights theory at Kobe College. He co-authored the new editions of The Origin of the Suiheisha (Buraku Liberation Publishing House, 2002), The Heat and Light of Suiheisha Declaration (Buraku Liberation Publishing House, 2012), Buraku Issues in Modern Times ("Lectures on Buraku Issues in Modern Japan 1", Buraku Liberation Publishing House, 2022).
About the Suiheisha History Museum
Inaugurated in May 1998 at the founding site of the Zenkoku Suiheisha (National Levelers' Society), Kashiwabara, Gose City, Nara Prefecture, Japan, the Suiheisha History Museum is dedicated to the advancement of human rights culture and the universalization of human rights philosophy, and works to convey messages about discrimination and human rights issues.
In September 2015, the Suiheisha History Museum participated for the first time in the FIHRM (Federation of International Human Rights Museums) conference in Wellington, New Zealand, and became the first Japanese organization to join FIHRM in December of the same year. From that point on, the Suiheisha History Museum has launched various initiatives to share with the world its founding philosophy of "pursuing human dignity and peace".
In May 2016, the museum announced on both ICOM General Conference and FIHRM Rosario Conference, Argentina the listing of "Suiheisha and Hyeongpyeongsa records of cross-border solidarity between the minorities who had been discriminated against" (the five historical items housed in the Suiheisha History Museum) on the Memory of the World Regional Register For Asia/Pacific and the effort for the documents to be entered into the International Register was underway. On March 3, 2022, as Suiheisha was to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the newly renovated Suiheisha History Museum reopened.
On March 3, 1922, the Zenkoku Suiheisha (National Levelers' Society) was founded at the Kyoto Municipal Public Hall with the aim of pursuing human dignity and peace. The leading founding members were a group of young people who were born and raised in Kashibara, Gosho City, Nara Prefecture.
The founding of the Zenkoku Suiheisha was inspired by the Buraku liberation movement which aims to eliminate discrimination against Buraku people, promote freedom and equality and secure human rights. Many of the predecessors involved in Suiheisha movement passed on this spirit. In order to make the process of their struggle known to future generations, in May 1998, with donations from all over the country, the Suiheisha History House was established in Kashiwabara, the origin place of Suiheisha (renamed as the Suiheisha History Museum in 1999).
The founding philosophy that connects people
The Zenkoku Suiheisha championed that "respect for other people liberates oneself", and promoted its founding declaration, "let there be warmth in human society, let there be light in all human beings". It is the first human rights declaration in Japan, and also the first human rights declaration raised by those who were discriminated against. The founding philosophy of Suiheisha is to build a society where all identities are accepted and one that does no tolerate discrimination. The philosophy did not only speak to Burakumin (Buraku people) but also resonated with many others by inspiring and encouraging human rights movements autonomously initiated by Zainichi Koreans (ethnic Korean citizens or residents of Japan), Uchinanchu (Okinawan people), Ainu people and leprosy survivors. Its influence even reached Baekjeong, an untouchable caste in Korea. Hyeongpyeongsa (Equitable Society) was established in April, 1923 with Baekjeong as its core members. The history of alliance between Suiheisha and Hyeongpyeongsa leaves a legacy of bond built on the basis of universal human values such as human rights, freedom, equality, fraternity and democracy. The historic document of this exchange, "Suiheisha and Hyeongpyeongsa records of cross-border solidarity between the minorities who had been discriminated against" was added to the Memory of the World Regional Register For Asia/Pacific in 2016. Moreover, the establishment of Suiheisha drew the attention of overseas media. The Nation, an American magazine, also published an English translation of the declaration of Suiheisha in an article on September 5, 1923.
About the discrimination against Buraku which Suiheisha sought to eliminate
As decreed in its founding declaration, the philosophy of the Zenkoku Suiheisha strives to eliminate the discrimination against the social minority "Burakumin". The root cause of the discrimination against Buraku originated from identity discrimination against people known as "Eta" (an abundance of filth) of social hierarchy in pre-modern Japan. Although Japan abolished the social hierarchy of the legal system after becoming a modern country, and the status of Eta was also nullified in 1871, Buraku people, after being re-included into modern civil society, were still at the receiving end of discrimination. This had become a unique social problem to Japanese. This kind of discrimination against Buraku is similar to the discrimination against the untouchables, outcasts and Dalit in the Indian caste system.
In addition, the discrimination against Buraku was defined as discrimination on the basis of "social status and family background" in Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution promulgated in November 1946. The International Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) defines it as "descent" based discrimination which shows that eliminating discrimination has become an important human rights issue both in Japan and the world.
Japan started the "Meiji Restoration" in 1868, a year which marks as the starting point of Japan as a modern country. However pre-modern identity-based discrimination formed a new order of discrimination in the new society. And discrimination against Burakumin persisted in modern civil society. Especially from around 1900, discrimination against Buraku aggravated over time. In light of this, the government and other agencies attempted to initiate a movement to improve the status of Buraku and promote the inclusion Burakumin with the wider society through top-down policies.
However, Burakumin were not complacent with these moves. After the First World War, they independently launched a emancipation movements in pursuit of liberty, equality, fraternity, hoping to be truly liberated from the discrimination against Buraku. It is the Zenkoku Suiheisha that steered the independent liberation movement of Burakumin.
The pursuit of human dignity
After 1942, although the Zenkoku Suiheisha no longer existed in legal sense, the founding philosophy of the Suiheishawhich pursues human dignity and equality has become an enduring legacy ever since, and the Buraku liberation movement persisted.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which laid down the principles of human rights, initiated United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education in 1995 and has advocated for human rights mainstreaming since 2005. The above actions have led to a considerable impact and the movement to affirm human rights have become a world consensus over time. In addition, at the 2015 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, all member states unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are to create a future in which no one is left behind and all people on earth can live a prosperous and happy life. In order to build sustainable societies, the development of Sustainable Development Goals are anchored to human rights values and set out 17 goals and 169 targets and this resonates with the philosophy laid out inSuiheisha's guidelines: (we) are enlightened by the principles of human nature, and we will march forward in pursuit of the utmost height of human qualities. The Suiheisha History Museum, the first museum to become a member of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM), has spread the philosophy of Suiheisha all over the world through the Memory of the World Register initiative and FIHRM activities.
The Suiheisha History Museum attempts to raise human rights awareness and pursue human dignity through its exhibitions. These efforts has received support from by various organizations. The Suiheisha History Museum Local Support Society was established In Kashiwabara, where the museum is located, in 1999, composed of various groups with the neighborhood council at its center. In order to give the visitors a warm greeting, the Local Support Society renovated the park adjacent to the museum and enhanced greening effort.
In addition, in order to promote and support the various programs of the museum and contribute to the maintenance and development of the museum, organizations from fields such as education, sports, religion, businesses, and labor unions in Nara Prefecture jointly established the Suiheisha History Museum Sponsor Association. One of the groups that joined the Sponsor Association, the Nara Prefecture Buraku Liberation Alliance, was founded on the spirit of the Suiheisha movement and assumed the mantle of the Buraku liberation movement. The Alliance purchases a certain number of Suiheisha History Museum admission tickets to increase the number of museum visits every year. At the same time, as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Suiheisha, when the museum was updating its exhibition, it also worked with parties like the Sponsor Association to review what would go into the exhibition to adopt different points of views for a more inclusive exhibition. As a result, many visitors commented that they are "deeply moved".
Touching messages left by celebrities and "the most unforgettable messages" submitted by ordinary citizens can be found at the Epilogue section of the updated exhibition. Fixed on the wall of the white space are quotes such as "building a human society of warmth" advocated by the Suiheisha written in relief characters (see the picture below). The five large carousel screens set up on the walls display passages of texts which deeply touched the visitors . This special section is also named Language Museum, and will continue to open to submissions such "compelling messages" in the future. We sincerely hope that this exhibition area, where anyone can contribute, would become a space for everyone to share the idea of "respect for human dignity".
Build a more loving world
Since the establishment of the Suiheisha in 1992, just like all the other movements which advocate human rights home and abroad, the movement to eliminate the discrimination against Buraku is a historical journey of a century. However, looking at today's Japan, the social minorities who suffered from discrimination and founded the Zenkoku Suiheisha are still experiencing discrimination when making contracts pertaining to marriage and real estate. One cannot firmly say that at present discrimination has been completely eliminated.
In addition, taking advantage of the misunderstanding and the taboo among the general public agains having anything to do with Buraku, nefarious activities are rampant, such as selling high-priced books by claiming that people do not have enough understanding about Buraku issues. These activities all use Buraku issues as the excuse to obtain profits in an dishonest way or demand the other party to perform activities which they are not obliged to. These activities also contribute to bias and misperception. As a result, slanderou comments and attacks against Buraku continue to surface on the internet, which has perpetrated discrimination.
In light of this, Japan re-enacted the "Three Human Rights Bills" in 2016, including the Act on the Promotion of the Elimination of Buraku Discrimination, the Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities and the Hate Speech Act of 2016. In 2019, the Ainu Promotion Act was enacted.
Against the backdrop of the above-mentioned status of Buraku discrimination and human rights-related trends, the Buraku liberation movement established networks by connecting with other human rights movements and local community building. Also, the movement gets its messages across by making Nara as its base with a focus on the efforts of overcoming discrimination. The Suiheisha History Museum also joins forces with this movement and plays the role as the hub for human rights information transmission. It carries out the Zenkoku Suiheisha's philosophy of pursuing equality and human dignity with a steel determination to eliminate discrimination and make this a legacy for the future.
We hope that we all share the founding philosophy of the Suiheisha, that is to build a human society of warmth and strive to realize this goal. The pursuit is to collectively build a tolerant and incusive society, where everyone can be themselves and live freely.
We are convinced that everyone who comes to the Suiheisha History Museum can connect with and agree with this spirit.
"Let there be warmth in human society, let there be light in all human beings"
The guidelines and declaration adopted at the founding assembly of the Suiheisha on March 3, 1922
1. We as Tokushu Burakumin (people of a special community), seek the absolute liberation through our own actions
2. We, as Tokushu Burakumin, demand to obtain absolute economic freedom and occupational freedom from the society
3. We are enlightened by the principles of human nature, and will march forward in pursuit of the utmost height of human qualities.
Tokushu Burakumin throughout the country: Unite!
Long-suffering brothers! Over the past half century, the movements on our behalf by so many people and in such varied ways have yielded no appreciable results. This failure is the punishment we have incurred for permitting ourselves as well as others to debase our own human dignity. Previous movements, though seemingly motivated by compassion, actually corrupted many of our brothers. Thus, it is imperative that we now organize a new collective movement to emancipate ourselves by promoting respect for human dignity.
Brothers! Our ancestors were admirers and practitioners of freedom and equality, victims of ugly class policies, and martyrs of male industry. As a reward for skinning animals, they were stripped of their own living flesh; in return for tearing out the hearts of animals, their own warm human hearts were ripped apart. They were even spat upon with ridicule. Yet, all through these cursed nightmares, their human pride ran deep in their blood. Now, the time has come when we human beings, pulsing with this blood, are soon to regain our divine dignity. The time has come for the victims to throw off their stigma. The time has come for the blessing of the martyrs' crown of thorns.
The time has come when we can be proud of being Eta.
We must never again shame our ancestors and profane humanity through servile words and cowardly deeds. We, who know just how cold human society can be, who know what it is to be pitied, do fervently seek and adore the warmth and light of human life from deep within our hearts.
Thus is the Suiheisha born.
Let there be warmth in human society, let there be light in all human beings
March 3, 1922
FIHRM was established to raise awareness of human rights issues and actively encourage museums to engage in issues of democracy and inclusion. The 2022 FIHRM conference was held in Oslo, Norway in September this year. Hosted by Demokratinetverket, the three-day conference took place at specially selected venues of democratic and human rights significance in Oslo— the Eidsvoll 1814, the Nobel Peace Center and the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies.
The discussion of the conference first focused on how to critically approach the autonomy and flexibility of human rights museums in places where human rights and democratic values are suppressed and the identification of the kind of relationships between museums, the state and communities as well as uncovering the kind of pressure museums faced in terms of development. The discussion also talked about how human rights museums shape their roles and engage in contentious issues. Then the focus turned to mapping out the current status of human rights museums across the globe and finding solutions or strategies to inclusion in the process of addressing social, cultural and political inclusion/exclusion from different angles. Conference participants traveled from Europe, Asia and America, including Hung Shih-Fang, the chair of FIHRM-AP and the director of Taiwan National Human Rights Museum and Tenzin Topdhen, the director of Tibet Museum, also a member of FIHRM-AP. By sharing their practical experiences and methodologies, the participants aspired to address the issue of inclusion in not only the space of museums but also the society as a whole. A museum can function as a starting point for the promotion and building of an equitable society.
Museums face internal and external pressures and challenges when addressing human rights issues
In an ideal society, all people are created equal. However, the journey to Utopia is a bumpy ride. When opening the first session on the first day of the conference, Kathrin Pabst, the chair of IC Ethics and senior curator of Vest-Agder Museum, forthright pointed out the challenges that human rights museums may face. The five types of pressure often imposed on museums are disputes between colleagues, the attempt to erase the past, unexpected political interference, war and destruction and the effort to preserve the cultural legacy of a country. The sources of pressure can be divided into internal and external. The internal source of pressure comes from the people within the museum organization and the external source of pressure comes from local government and the state.
However, a crisis also brings opportunity. In the face of all kinds of challenges, the development of human rights museums can also be propelled by pressure. Jette Sandahl, the chair of trustees of European Museum Forum, offered guidance on how museums should respond to challenges. She pointed out that the very fact that museums are under heavy pressure and challenges is the very reason why museums should be more united than ever to get rid of the exceptionalism which has dominated the field for several centuries. No more entrenchment. Museums should step out of their comfort zone and look for like-minded partners. The journey of human rights excludes no one. Museum staff should have the courage to stand up to the passivity or collaborative attitude toward power and resolve challenges and conflicts with relentless conviction and collective strength.
And as to how this solidarity actually works in a museum setting, scholars from the National Museums of Liverpool and University of Leicester gave us actual cases in the field.
Museums and Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Waterfront Transformation
The presenters from the National Museums of Liverpool and University of Leicester talked about their joint Waterfront Transformation project. The project is a perfect example of leveraging collective strength which drives the development of local communities for an equitable society through collaboration and efforts from all sides.
The Waterfront Transformation project strove to maintain the connection between museums and contemporary society. Starting with Liverpool's iconic waterfront, the project links storytelling, heritage, community and hospitality to create a rich visitor experience and will be a catalyst for social and environmental improvements in the area. The project goes beyond collaboration between museums and brings onboard the local residents to create a waterfront city where old and new blend.
Author profile - Erpan Faryadi
Erpan Faryadi is currently the Project Manager for the Advocacy and Research Circle of Borneo (Link-AR Borneo), a community organization engaged in advocacy, campaigning, education, and research on the themes of democracy, human rights, natural resources, climate change, and people's sovereignty in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
About Link-AR Borneo
Link-AR Borneo (Borneo Advocacy and Research Circle) is a non-governmental organization that was established on April 2, 2009. It was established to carry out advocacy to address the massive problem of control over land, forests, and the natural resources above and contained therein by extractive industry. This is caused by political economy interests that prioritize the need for raw materials to supply the world's giant industries. This condition is inseparable from the earth of Borneo which contains abundant natural resources.
Based on this, Link-AR Borneo was established to carry out evidence-based advocacy. This advocacy is a manifestation of Link-AR Borneo's alignment with community interests and sustainable ecological justice. Since its establishment, Link-AR Borneo has been active in making various efforts in upholding and defending human rights, encouraging the improvement of just, sustainable forest and land management, as well as encouraging community independence in forest and land management.
Now is a good time to assess the Indonesian government's policies and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact these policies have on the people, including their impact on the fulfillment and respect of human rights.
Since the beginning of 2020 (January to March 2020), the Indonesian government and government officials have never seriously responded to the presence of COVID-19. They even seem to underestimate and do not believe that COVID-19 exists. The Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia in early 2020, stated that with the prayer of the religious leaders, COVID-19 will not befall Indonesia. Even the President of the Republic of Indonesia in March 2020 misled the people by stating, "The people of Indonesia will be able to contain COVID-19 by drinking herbal medicine." (See CNN Indonesia, 16 March 2020, “Media Asing Soroti Jokowi Minum Jamu Untuk Tangkal Corona”). These unscientific responses are the basis for the Indonesian government's policies in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steps by the Indonesian Government in Handling COVID-19
Since the WHO announcement in March 2020 on COVID-19 as the global pandemic, the government should have started to take systematic steps to prevent transmission in Indonesia, by inviting health experts, especially infectious disease experts (epidemiologists). However, although the main problem is health problems, the views of health experts are rarely listened to by the government. Sometimes it is even underestimated and there are also many cases where the views of health experts are against the government. However, since April 2020, the Indonesian Government employed the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) and the police to lock people in their homes, restrict worship, restrict people's movement and prohibit protests and demonstrations, which invite potential violations of human rights, particularly civil and political rights.
After the determination of the corona as a global pandemic, the Indonesian government took control measures, but without a 'national command'. Public health experts consider Jokowi's steps to be "slow" and not enough to calm the public. (See BBC News Indonesia, 16 March 2020, “Virus corona: Jokowi umumkan langkah pengendalian Covid-19, tapi tanpa komando nasional.”)
The government is also fond of introducing new terms and policies every month in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, without any significant meaning for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in Indonesia. This shows the panic and lack of systematic policy direction from the government at all levels in tackling this deadly disease.
Government officials such as Minister of Social Affairs Juliari Batubara also corrupted social assistance (bansos) in the form of basic food packages for the poor in the context of handling COVID-19 in December 2020. This is an act of Indonesian government official who is very embarrassing in the midst of the difficulties the Indonesian people are struggling from COVID-19 pressure.
The situation with the increasing number of COVID-19 patients and the increasing number of deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it increasingly difficult for the Indonesian government to handle it. Whereas the government should guarantee the people's right to health, which is a human rights, including ensuring personal protective equipment for health workers who work on the front lines against COVID-19. Facing the ferocity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government seems helpless as it reports every day the numbers of patients and deaths due to COVID-19 have been increasing since mid-June 2021.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Indonesian People
Since April 2020, the Indonesian government has issued a large-scale social restriction (PSBB) policy aimed at breaking the chain of transmission of COVID-19. The PSBB policy has not achieved its goal at all, namely reducing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing deaths due to COVID-19, in line with the two general goals of handling COVID-19 issued by the WHO. In July 2021, the Corona Virus Disease-2019 or COVID-19 pandemic is getting crazier in Indonesia due to the government's indecisiveness in choosing between people's health versus economic growth.
Throughout July 2021, the Indonesian government implemented an Emergency Enforcement of Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) for the islands of Java and Bali which took effect from 3 – 20 July 2021. Through the Emergency PPKM for Java and Bali, the government hopes to suppress the surge in cases of COVID-19 and reduce the number of deaths due to this pandemic. Meanwhile, outside Java and Bali, the government runs PPKM Micro (Enforcement of Community Activity Restrictions at the micro level such as regency and sub-districts). All of these government policies have no impact on the reduction of COVID-19. In fact, the number of transmission and death of COVID-19 in Indonesia is increasing.
The Role of Civil Society Organizations in COVID-19 in Indonesia
Civil society organizations (CSO) in Indonesia are active organizations since the era of Reformation or post-authoritarian era. Many civil organizations in Indonesia have played active role in the fields of human rights, climate change, health, law reform, food sovereignty, land rights and reform, peasant and workers issues, and others. Civil society organizations in Indonesia are also attracting many groups and individuals to join their actions and campaigns, including doctors, lawyers, agricultural experts and others which make civil society organizations are more credible and experienced in their fields. In essence, civil society organizations in Indonesia are contributing to the process of democracy in Indonesia after post-authoritarian era (post-1998).
Civil society organizations in Indonesia also pay great attention to the handling of COVID-19, including the Citizens' Coalition to Report Covid-19. The Citizens' Coalition for LaporCovid-19 or LaporCovid-19 was formed by a group of individuals who are concerned about citizens' human rights and public health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This coalition was formed in early March 2020, when cases of COVID-19 spread and were officially discovered.
LaporCovid-19 has built a citizen reporting platform that is used as a place to share information about incidents related to COVID-19 that have been discovered by residents, but have so far been out of reach of the government.
Using a crowdsourcing approach that involves the participation of citizens to be involved in recording COVID-19 numbers and reporting issues around COVID-19 in the vicinity, becomes a bridge for recording the number of COVID-19 incidents in the country. LaporCovid-19 is a forum to help the government and other citizens to find out the distribution and magnitude of COVID-19 in Indonesia. The data collected on the LaporCovid-19 channel is input for the government to formulate policies and steps to handle COVID-19 based on data in the field.
LaporCovid-19 is composed of the following civil society organizations in Indonesia: YLBHI, Tempo magazine, Efek Rumah Kaca, Transparency International Indonesia, Lokataru, Hakasasi.id, U-Inspire, STH Jentera, NarasiTV, Rujak Center for Urban Studies, Indonesia Corruption Watch. YLBHI is a human rights group that formed since 1970s to monitor consistently the human rights obligations of the Indonesian government; while Tempo Magazine is a part of Tempo group which focuses on human rights, environment, and corruption.
The chaotic handling of COVID-19 was highlighted by the Civil Society Coalition consisting of LaporCovid-19, ICW, YLBHI, LP3ES, and Lokataru. This coalition assesses that the Jokowi government has failed in handling the pandemic that has been experienced by Indonesia since early March 2020.
LaporCovid-19 criticizes: the government cannot prevent the death rate due to the problematic handling of COVID-19. According to LaporCovid-19, the death toll could have been reduced from the start if the government had implemented prevention and control quickly and strongly. See the article "Kasus Meninggal Melonjak & RS Kolaps, Negara Gagal Tangani COVID?", Tirto.id, 6 July 2021, https://tirto.id/ght5. Even though the government has budgeted Rp 695.2 trillion for the COVID-19 handling strategy in 2020. (See Kompas, 20 December 2020, “Kebijakan Pemerintah Menangani Covid-19 Sepanjang Semester II 2020.”)