Buraku Liberation News March 1999 No.107

Summary of the International Conference on Human Rights Education in the Asia-Pacific Region
-Towards Universal Realization of Human Rights-

(the 2nd part of the series)

November 25, 1998

Session 3 - Group A "Human Rights Education Strategies to Address Globalization"

The session for Group A was chaired by Professor Kinhide Mushakoji, the Director of IMADR - Japan Committee. Opening the session, he commented that the issue of oppression/discrimination and the issue of globalization are related to each other, and that he was sorry that this group discussion was being held separately from Group B which was now focusing on "Human Rights Empowerment of the Oppressed and Minorities."

The discussion started with the presentation by Dr. Clarence Dias, President of the International Center for Law in Development based in New York. While clarifying the negative aspects of globalization such as facilitation of deregulation in line with the expansion of business activities by multinational corporations, increase of unemployment rates, deterioration of public services and the widening of gap in the well-being among individuals, he stated that we needed to develop human rights strategies in countering negative aspects of globalization. In doing so, it is essential for us to pursue the question: human rights education about what? directed at whom? why? and how.

Mr. Yoshinori Ikezumi, Director of Global Citizen Education Center based in Osaka, gave the second presentation on the issue. He said that globalization is not new. It has a history. The negative aspects of the recent globalization are caused by the wealthy, and not by the poor. It happened because of the collaboration between money and power. We need to develop human rights education strategies to face globalization of the economy in order to promote globalization of justice and fairness through people's networking. These strategies should also be effective enough to correct globalization of the economy.

There were several opinions raised after the two presentations. "It is dangerous to view globalization of the economy as nothing but evil. The problem does not only rest with giant companies, but also with corrupt and undemocratic governments. It is very important to realize democracy in such governments. We need to establish common values across the boundaries." "It is essential to identify how each social sector has been affected by globalization, so that we can see how each sector has addressed such impacts. This reminded the floor of the comment of Professor Mushakoji made at the beginning of the session."

Session 3 - Group B "Human Rights Empowerment of the Oppressed and Minorities"

With the chairing by Professor Byung-Sun Oh of Sogang University in Seoul, Group B received the presentation from four people. First, Mr. Shigeyuki Kumisaka, President of Buraku Liberation League, talked about the history and achievements of the Buraku liberation movement and the 'Dowa' education. He stated that Buraku Liberation League would continue to work together with other human rights NGOs and seek the enactment of a law for the promotion of human rights education in Japan. There was a question from the floor asking, "One of the main objectives of human rights education is to establish one's identity. Does 'Dowa' (fusion) imply 'assimilation'? In responding to the question, he clearly stated, "Buraku liberation movement has never sought assimilation. It is impossible to realize people's liberation through sympathy." This question arouse a heated discussion among the participants.

Then, Mr. Bhagwan Das, President of Dalit Solidarity Peoples in India, gave his presentation. Discussing about human rights empowerment, he referred to a successful case of the Dalit (the untouchable) movement. In India, the quota system has been introduced to allow reservations for the Scheduled Castes (including Dalit) in the legislature, public services and education system. He decisively said, "Assimilation is not the objective. Change in perception of people and value system is needed."

It was followed by Mr. Jiro Sasamura, Executive Director of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido. He talked about the enactment of 'Ainu New Law' in 1997 stating that it was a fruit of their campaign calling for the correction of the government's claim of "Japan as a mono-ethnic state." It is the law which recognizes the Ainu as a distinct people for the first time in the Japanese's history. He showed the determination of the Ainu people that they would continue their struggle to make the government admit the Ainu's demand as rights inherent to the people.

Then, Ms. Lillan Holt, Director of Center of Indigenous Education of University of Melbourne, was invited to give her presentation about Aboriginal people in Australia. She emphasized the importance of empowerment of the oppressed by saying, "Through human rights education, they should realize that they are also oppressed as the Aborigines are." A participant who is a third-generation of Korean living in Japan and teaches human rights at a college gave her comment, "I share the same opinion as Ms. Holt. It is exactly what I have been thinking of while teaching at school. We are a minority in Japan. As our lives cannot be alienated from those of the majority, our rights will never be respected unless their human rights education gets a real meaning."

In the end, Professor Theo van Boven, a member of the UN Commission for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, gave his remarks, "These efforts made by the oppressed and minorities can make a progress only when the rest of the world watch and appreciate it." It is confirmed that the attitude of the majority holds the key to the future of human rights education.

November 26, 1997

Session 4: Innovation in Human Rights Education

The session was chaired by Professor Yasumasa Hirasawa of Osaka University. First, Ms. Margot Brown, National Co-ordinator of the Global Education Centre based in U.K., was invited to give her presentation about human rights education in schools through the global education programs. Teachers teach the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but not in today's context where conflicts are taking place in many parts of the world which directly or indirectly affect the lives of people in other parts of the world. Indeed, it lacks a global perspective. Global education is to encourage students to see their human rights in the global context.

Mr. Yoshimasa Koike, a member of the Permanent Committee of the National Dowa Educators Association, followed her as the second speaker. When he was a teacher at a school located near a Buraku community in Osaka, many Buraku children disclosed that they were from Buraku before their classmates. It encouraged Korean children to identify themselves as Korean with their real Korean names. It even helped Japanese children understand the issues of discrimination against the Buraku and Korean residents. Eventually, it also contributed to the promotion of a campaign for children with disabilities in the community.

As the third speaker, Mr. Robert Garcia of PEPE (Popular Education for People's Empowerment) talked about their participatory human rights education programs. In his presentation, Mr. Garcia described Popular Education as dialogues which began with exchange of ideas and experiences among learners. He also said that learners could stand against the oppressor on the basis of what they have learned through popular education programs.

Ms. Robin Sclafani from Anti-Defamation League based in the U.S. was invited as the last speaker. She mentioned that Diversity Education made people realize differences among different people and led to mutual understanding and respect. She also remarked the importance of the incorporation of Diversity Education into formal school curriculum. Following the dispute about 'Dowa' of the previous day, a Korean participant argued, "Dowa means to streamline everybody into one direction. It is against diversity."

Ms. Sclafani answered that in that sense Diversity Education also called on learners to follow the value of Diversity, which was essentially contradictory. Society as a whole is diverse. Through education, people need to learn that oppressors can sometimes be the oppressed in diverse society.

Session 5 - Group A Human Rights Education for the Public Security Officers

With the chair by Professor Wan Exiang of Wuhan University, Ms. Zenaida Quezada-Reyes, Assistant Professor at the Graduate College of Philippine Normal University, gave her presentation about human rights education programs for public security officers in the Philippines. The program is process-oriented, and designed by her and her colleagues. It starts with exercises for relaxing. Trainees should call each other by their own names, not by titles of their positions in the military system. These should help them face their values and attitudes towards human rights. They may find that their values confront the concept of peace and human rights. The program is designed to make them realize that their duty is to ensure public safety of civilians. Participants were very interested to know how such a project was implemented successfully. The experience in the Philippines can be a good model in formulating training for other targets.

Following her presentation, Att'y Yasuhiro Kanaizuka from Osaka Bar Association, pointed out a lack of human rights education for legal professionals in Japan. Under the current school education system, students are encouraged to memorize as much knowledge as possible so that they can win the severe bar examination contest. Some of those who win the contest become professionals in the law enforcement system without being given any human rights education. One of participants also supported his comment by saying, "In Japanese colleges, human rights is discussed only in the international law course. It indicates little interest in human rights education in school."

Session 5 - Group B Companies and Human Rights Education

The session was chaired by Ms. Kayuri Kim, Director of Osaka YWCA Education Research Institute. Mr. Nobuyuki Shimizu, Advisor of Kansai Paint, gave his presentation about the experiences of Japanese companies in human rights training for their employees. Many participants pointed out the difficulty in involving companies into human rights training. It was said: "Companies hold human rights training once a year. But they consider it as a time to sit down in patience, because it is a matter of two or three hours," or "When we invite companies to hold a human rights seminar, they usually answer that it is waste of time with no distinctive effects." Mr. Shimizu said, "In the recent bad economic environment, it is true that companies are not willing to spend time for human rights training. Thus, it is more effective to approach the top management and convince them that they will eventually find human rights training profitable."

To make more companies interested in human rights training, Robin Sclafani from ADL of the U.S.A. gave the following suggestions: 1) to investigate the human rights practices of a company and make findings public, 2) to boycott products or services of a company, and 3) to lobby for introduction of law or ordinance which requires private companies to give human rights education to their employees. In the U.S., companies are becoming more sensitive to human rights. Some companies hire experts of human rights, and others employ more people with different sexual orientation or single mothers, for example. Companies advertise these practices. It shows that human rights training is taking root in American companies. The fact that an increasing number of cases of sexual harassment brought into the court in the U.S. also contributes to this trend.

Session 5 - Group C Human Rights Education for NGO Workers

Group C had discussions based on a presentation given by Ms. Jane Corpz-Brock, Director of Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) in Sydney. DTP believes that human rights and human relation are deeply connected to each other. In human relation, diplomacy plays an important role. To develop diplomatic skills for negotiation or lobbying, DTP provides training program for NGO workers. Jane stated that human rights education was a tool for developing a culture of peace, tolerance and harmony in the world. It is a means of promoting empowerment of people, while being used as a tool against globalization.

A participant from India asked a question, "What about a program towards social changes. Is DTP's human rights education program designed for that?" Jane answered, "Cultural tolerance does not mean to tolerate all cultural practices. Training for tolerance should eventually lead to a drastic solution of evil social practices. DTP designs a training program according to the conditions of each country in the region." To the suggestion of Jane to eliminate '-ism,' a participant from Sri Lanka raised her hand saying, "If '-ism' is to be eliminated, what could be an alternative? It is important to develop special skills through human rights education, but at the same time it is also important to maintain dynamism in actions." There was also suggestion from the floor to involve ourselves into the mid-term review over the UN Decade.

(to be continued)