ASIAN YOUTH CALLS FOR UNITY AND DEMOCRACY RENEWAL IN RESPONSE TO DEMOCRACY CHALLENGES IN ASIA
SEOUL,KOREA – June 14, 2018
Youth democracy and human rights representatives from the Asian region gathered in the Republic of Korea from May 13-24 to attend the Empowering Asia Forum 2018: Youth Leadership Forum for Democracy hosted by the Asia Democracy Network. At the forum, participants shared challenges to democracy in their respective countries and developed a youth strategy to sustain social movements and progress democracy in Asia.
Through the discussions, it was apparent that many Asian countries have become a dangerous place to promote democracy due to the rise of authoritarianism, and intolerance. More often, we are seeing freedom of assembly, association, and expression being compromised in the Asian region. Governments are utilizing draconian laws to limit the space that civil society can act. Information has been extremely blurred to the point where it is difficult to distinguish the truth from lies, becoming a driver of swaying public opinion to be anti-democracy and human rights. In this current state, it is vital for the region to build democratic unity and strengthen solidarity in order to combat these challenges to democracy.
At the occasion of the Empowering Asia 2018 Forum, the youth activists from Asia stand in solidarity to accelerate and confront state-authoritarianism and calls other youth from the region to extend solidarity and demand to the states to restore democracy and uphold a democratic government. The importance of democratic unity in the Asia region was also recognized and taken under by the youth to promote democratic unity and solidarity to progress democracy.
Asia Democracy Network
Summary by the Empowering Asia 2018 Cohort
During the intensive discussions at the Empowering Asia Forum 2018 held in Korea from May 13-24 by the Asia Democracy Network, we focused on the challenges of democracy in Asia and brainstormed strategies on how youth leaders can unite to change and empower Asia.
We have witnessed the progress of democracy throughout the past decades. However, we are currently witnessing democratic recession across the world, even happening right here in Asia. Authoritarian regimes learn from each other through cooperation with like-minded governments. As a result, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association has been further limited. Democracy that many have fought so hard for is not being eroded by abuse of state power and biased judicial power. It is now time for like-minded democracy advocates to cooperate together to respond to these challenges.
Asia has also seen hope in the region. We have seen the rise of youth in Asia creating and sustaining democratic movements. We see fearless students of Thailand go out to the streets to defend their fundamental freedoms and democracy. We saw an increase of people in India aware the exclusion of minorities in their system and now actively being cognizant of minority rights like the Dalits. In Taiwan, the sunflower movement was lead by young people demanding that their democratic system is not compromised. In Gwanghwamun Square, we saw mass peaceful protests prove that the power of the people through peaceful protest can change the history of a country.
Through the workshops we, the Asian youth activists, discussed in great length what we can do for the upcoming future. We concluded that, building democratic unity and solidarity in Asia is vital to bring change. We developed that “Asia Unity” will be achieved through a “triple-track strategy” which is to cooperate on three levels – the national, regional, and the high level.
At the national level, we will cooperate with the local young people. At the regional level, we will cooperate with organizations from countries from across Asia and support each other. At the high level, we want to educate people, and to make democratic values visible and learn to put into practice on all levels of the society.
From today, we will build a platform to gather the power from all the young people of Asia. We want to leave no one behind. We will make fundamental change. We will unite Asia, we will empower Asia.