Posted May. 20, 2013 06:22,
In November 2010, a South Korean lawyer submitted a letter of appeal to the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, an international organization that aims to achieve world peace and security through exchange in education, science and culture.
The appeal drafted by some conservative groups in South Korea suggested that The May 18 Gwangju incident was an armed revolt triggered by some 600 special forces from North Korea. Those who massacred Gwangju citizens are North Korean soldiers, not South Korean martial troops. The May 18 incident is not a democratization movement and hence should not be registered with the UNESCO Memory of the World.
Earlier in January 2010, the May 18 Memorial Foundation, the council of the arrested and injured, the council of bereaved families, the council of the injured, and Gwangju Metropolitan City Government formed a committee to register the May 18 democratization movement with the UNESCO Memory of the World, and submitted an application.
As some South Korean civic groups claimed North Korean militarys involvement in the May 18 incident, the UNESCO demanded the registration committee get consent for preservation and management of records from organizations that are keeping materials on the May 18 incident, such as the U.S. Embassy in South Korea, the South Korean Defense Ministry, and National Assembly Library. The letter of consent suggested that If documentations on the May 18 incident have value as the UNESCO Memory of the World, please preserve them with care.
Upon receiving the request for consent, the U.S. Embassy in South Korea sent UNESCO on Jan. 28, 2011 an official letter, reading, The U.S. will preserve and manage with care documentations on the May 18 democratization movement. In the wake of the incident on May 18, 1980, the U.S. Embassy in South Korea sent wire messages on pressing situations in Gwangju to the U.S. State Department and others every five to 10 minutes. The Embassys letter to UNESCO effectively conveyed the message that The U.S. government considers the May 18 incident a democratization movement.
After taking a verification process in South Korea and elsewhere, UNESCO confirmed that the allegation of the North Korean militarys involvement was groundless, and enlisted through a unanimous vote of 14 review panel members to the UNESCO Memory of the World on May 25, 2011. Documentations on the May 18 incident registered with UNESCO amounts to 858,904 pages and 4,271 books on nine themes.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of an organization to keep human rights records of the Memory of the World held at the Kim Dae-jung Convention Center in Gwangju on Thursday and Friday, UNESCO handed a recently published book on the UNESCO Memory of the World to the committee on the establishment of May 18 Archive (museum). The 608-page book contained 297 cases of memories with huge value and influence, which human beings must preserve together, including documentations on the May 18 incident.
At the Gwangju meeting, among the 297 cases of the Memory of the World, UNESCO agreed to publish a world human rights textbook, which will feature 10 cases, including records on France`s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, Germany`s dismantlement of the Berlin Wall, Poland`s 21 Demands of Gdansk, and documentations on the May 18 incident. The first of its kind, the human rights textbook will be used as reference material for students worldwide.