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The May 18 Democratic Uprising 40th Anniversary Messages from former GPHR Laureates


The May 18 Gwangju Uprising of was a landmark event in the struggle against authoritarianism and militarism, and for democratization in Asia. The participation of an entire city in facing great difficulties, with some knowingly sacrificing their lives for the rest of the people's achievement of democracy, is an exceptional manifestation of what patriotism should really mean. This whole experience needs to be better communicated to the rest of Asia and the whole world.
Mr. Basil Fernando
Laureate 2001



I salute to the great Martyrs and the breve children of the Korea who fought for Democracy and against autocracy and sacrificed their present for the future generation of Korea during the May 18 Democratic Uprising in 1980. The Gwangju People’s uprising which is popularly known as May 18 movement is a source of inspiration to the people of Asia and all around the world. As a Gwangju Human Rights Prize Laureate, I vibrantly acknowledge that the Prize itself is a recognition of my struggle for Democracy, Peace and Human rights of the people forced to live in a situation of all kind deprivation. This prize always encourage me to continue my struggle.
Mr. Sushil Pyakurel
Laureate 2010



Today, on the 40th anniversary of the May 18 Uprising in Gwangju, I send you my heartiest congratulations and respect. I thank the May 18 Foundation for its efforts over the past 40 years for its continued suppport to human rights defenders stgruggling for justice in Asia. My husband, Sombath Somphone, also drew inspiration from the Gwangju Uprising for his work in Laos. Even though Sombath Somphone was enforcedly disappeared for his work in 2012, I believe he never regretted that whatever sacrifice he made, it was for a better world for the Lao people, just like those brave Koreans who sacrificed their lives at the May 18 Uprising in Gwangju.
Ms. Shui Meng, Laos
Wife of Sombath Somphone Special-Prize Laureate 2015



As we pass 40 years for the may 18 th Gwangju uprising, it still remains as a unique sign that symbolizes people’s power that cannot be suppressed. The spirit of the uprising resonates not only with Koreans, but also with peoples throughout the world who are fighting for democracy and striving to safeguard democratic values and principle.
Fr. Nandana Manatunga
Laureate 2018



Honoring our heroes and martyrs keeps alive the spirit of the May 18 democratic uprising. Let us always remember, let us never forget!
Ms. Joanna CariÑo
Laureate 2019