Maria Chin receives Korean human rights award
KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah has been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights by the South Korea May 18 Memorial Foundation.
Maria was prevented from travelling to South Korea to receive the award by the Immigration Department on May 15.
During her acceptance speech at Vistana Hotel yesterday, she thanked all those who supported the fight for free and fair elections, from dozens of NGOs to those who participated in Bersih rallies.
She said they have persevered despite the many challenges the group faced, including being tear gassed, sprayed with chemical-laced water and the latest, violent Red Shirt counter-protests.
“I am very proud to say that Bersih supporters and those in our convoys throughout the country were peaceful and did not fight back (when faced with violence),” Maria said.
She also acknowledged criticism that Bersih 2.0 has not achieved its objectives despite calling for its fourth rally, and the fifth Bersih rally slated for Nov 19.
Maria said the Election Commission had so far only conceded in the use of indelible ink during the 13th general election, and even then the ink’s effectiveness was doubtful.
She said a popular protest was unthinkable in the 80s but the past Bersih rallies drew many participants.
The May 18 Memorial Foundation was formed to honour the Gwangju Democratic Uprising in South Korea in 1980. – by Lee Choon Fai