Gwangju Prize for Human Rights
Joanna K. Cariño is the first Filipino to receive the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Credits to Cordillera Peoples Alliance

Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) leader Joanna Cariño was awarded the 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR) – the first time a Filipino received the international prize.

The main prize was given by the May 18 Memorial Foundation of South Korea to Joanna Cariño for championing the rights of indigenous peoples.

LEARN ABOUT Philippine education curricula now including Indigenous Peoples studies

The former University of the Philippines Baguio professor began her human rights work during the period of Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.

READ ABOUT how UP Baguio research is aiding Cordillera weavers and communities

joana cariño

The Gwangju Prize cites Cariño’s struggle for over 30 years “to enhance indigenous peoples’ rights and protect their rights as well as for democracy and people’s liberation.

Joanna Cariño is credited with the following contributions to the defense of human rights:

  1. She took part in the Dialogue Asia in 1984
  2. Led to the establishment of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
  3. Participated in various networks, including the international Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation in 2010
  4. The Cordilleran tribal people’s leader was the founder of and continues to serve as advisor to the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in defending ancestral domains.
  5. The human rights defender is also the chairperson of SELDA Northern Luzon.
  6. She was also a key figure in the establishment of the SANDUGO, the national alliance of indigenous peoples and Moro people for self-determination in 2016.

Joanna Cariño’s Human Rights Prize May 18 Memorial Foundation award commemorating a 1980 pro-democracy movement in the South Korean city of Gwangju comes with a cash award of $ 50,000 USD.

“Whatever the suppression, however, they failed to stop her continuing courageous actions, inspiring global citizens throughout the world, and thus was selected her as the winner of the 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights,” stated the foundation.

In her acceptance speech posted on Cordillera Peoples Alliance socusl media, Joanna Cariño said the award is “a vindication of my lifelong vocation to defend and promote democracy and human rights.”

“I truly identify with the spirit of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising of 1980, and take note of the parallelisms between South Korea and the Philippines as we struggled against dictatorships,” added Cariño recalling how her own human rights were violated as a torture and illegal detention victim during martial law in the 1970s.

joana cariño gwangju prize

“The 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising ultimately resulted in the democratization movement which toppled a dictator and led to the return of civilian rule in South Korea. The 1986 People Power uprising in the Philippines likewise demolished a dictator and put an end to martial law. It would seem that these are clear judgments of history from the people’s point of view,” said the indigenous peoples champion.

“In the face of historical revisionism, and the resurgence of tyranny and dictatorship, let us hold on to the lessons of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising and the 1986 People Power in the Philippines. We should always remember, we should never forget. The people, united, shall never be defeated! Never again to martial law!”

Send your encouraging cheers to Joanna K. Cariño, Indigenous Peoples champion!

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