Between 1989 and 2016, a total of 317 human rights advocates from 88 countries attended HRAP. In recent years, advocates have ranged from early career advocates who have cut their teeth in very urgent human rights situations to mid-career advocates who have founded organizations.
Below are the biographies of current Advocates and descriptions by select alumni as to why they became human rights advocates.
To see a list of additional past Advocates click here.
To read about more about the work of our Advocates click here .
Assistant Lecturer, University of Mandalay
I have been teaching at the University of Mandalay for 10 years. Before 2010 in Myanmar, human rights topics were never taught or discussed. Although some rights, such as fundamental rights and child rights were discussed in constitutional law and in children’s law, they were not discussed from a human rights perspective.
Myanmar has received international attention and pressure for various human rights issues and violations. Since the dawn of our democracy, there have been many undemocratic practices infringing on fundamental human rights at the very core of democracy, such as freedom of belief, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, and non-discrimination. While some human rights violations are due to government neglect of its responsibility, some issues have arisen because of people's misunderstanding and disrespect for others' rights.
From witnessing and experiencing what is happening in my country, I realize that we need to learn and teach human rights in Myanmar. In my opinion, we need human rights education for two (at least) reasons. First, we need to educate people about their own rights and the respect for others' rights. Secondly, to do so, we need to train human rights advocates and academics to be able to educate the public at large. As an academic working for a university, my aim is to introduce and teach human rights courses at universities in Myanmar. Universities are the main institution where we produce essential human resources for the country.
Furthermore, as part of the University Human Rights Education in Myanmar project, I participated in a three-day training at Yangon University and in an online course provided by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. To be able to teach human rights courses, the project aims to train junior faculty members in the Department of Law and the Department of International Relations. As a member, I am very glad that I was chosen among the trainees to join the Human Rights Advocates Program together with advocates from various regions around the world. The program gave me the opportunity to share experiences and learn about the activism and work of advocates who are engaging in a variety of human rights issues.
Overall, the program has equipped me with knowledge and several skills for future human rights work. First, my participation in several workshops in various international human rights organizations was key. Among them, I was especially interested in the Human Rights Watch workshops where we solved hypothetical situations based on real human rights cases. We learned how to identify and prioritize human rights issues through fact-finding, using interviewing strategies to deal with various interviewees such as victims and government officials.
The workshops and courses I took also improved the research I am currently engaging in and helped me develop new ideas for future human rights related research. Finally, I will use the network that I established here in furtherance of collaboration between those institutions and my home institutions. By using the network, we can produce human resources and develop the capacities which are needed to develop human rights education in Myanmar.
The skills and knowledge I learned here will be very invaluable for educating, teaching, researching and promoting human rights, and through spreading awareness will contribute to building a peaceful society in my country. I thank ISHR very much for its contribution to the development of human rights education in Myanmar and for giving me such a fruitful opportunity.