MHRD 2011-2012 Student Profiles (A-M)

Nicholas Leow, Singapore

Growing up and living all my life on the tiny island of Singapore with its material prosperity and the near complete absence of any Human Rights discourses present me with a temptation – to be comfortable with a myopic worldview, an “island mentality” if you will. Thankfully, a university education in sociology has opened my eyes to suffering and injustice around the world, as well as how social institutions perpetuate many of these personal grievances. I began to question the island paradise-like lull in Singapore, itself a product of social engineering. Personal encounters and experiences with sexual minorities at home have also convinced me that all is not alright at home and that the suffering of a few is the suffering of all.

To date, I have been most involved and interested in the oppression of sexual minorities by state and religious institutions, how progressive Christianity in particular presents a platform for greater social justice, as well as the memories and search for justice and reconciliation by former political detainees. I am a fresh graduate entering this wonderful Masters programme filled with experienced people from all over the world. I look forward to a very challenging and illuminating encounter!

Nishandeny Ratnam, Sri Lanka

I belong to an ethnic minority group in Sri Lanka, and human rights, peace and conflict issues have always been my interest of study. Having graduated in bachelors of Law in 2010, I wanted to go deeper in the discourse of Human rights and I am fortunate to be selected for this programme where there is also a chance of learning from, understanding and exploring different cultures, and people.
With the knowledge and experience gained from this course, I look forward to work for the better Human rights situation of Tamil community in Sri Lanka where one section of this community is struggling to achieve a political solution in the post war scenario and the other part of this ethnic group is having problems in fulfilling the very basic needs by being plantation workers.

Nixon Poya, Papua New Guinea

Nixon Poya is 28 years old and was born on the 08th of April 1983 in Mambisanda Lutheran Hospital in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. He is the second born in the family of three girls and two boys. Nixon began his primary education in 1987 to 1992 at Yombikul Primary School and successfully continued his junior high schools at Tambul High School but then transfer to Kompolopa High school and completed in the year 1996, where his father was working as an Assistance District Administrator at Baiyer River District. In the year 1999 Nixon further his studies at Mount Hagen Technical College in Heavy Equipment Diesel Fitting PETT course. While searching for employment Nixon enrolled at university of Papua New Guinea open college to further grade eleven and twelve through matriculation studies. However, with his strong motivation to excel in education has finally prompted him to won a scholarship from the Indonesian Government in 2005 to undertake Bachelors Degree in Applied Science in Social works at Bandung School of Social Welfare (STKS) in Bandung Indonesia and successfully completed his degree and was graduated on the 10th of October 2009.

I’m taking the MHRD course here at Sydney University because I really would like to reiterates firm commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and democratisation in my country. And also would like to empower the universality of human rights, as well as their indivisibility, interdependence, interrelatedness, and reaffirms its intention to continue maintain human rights in achieving universal respect for human democratisation. The promotion and protection of human rights faces significant impediments in the Asia Pacific. In contradistinction to other regions, notably Europe, Africa and the USA; Asia Pacific lacks strong regional institutions and legal frameworks, both in general, and with particular reference to human rights. The failure to respect, promote and protect human rights and the process of democratisation, particularly dire in parts of the region. Therefore I’m interested to study human rights and democratization for the future development and benefits for my developing nation Papua New Guinea.

Och Ganbayar, Mongolia

Coming with a background experience of working at the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, it is an extremely exciting opportunity to be in this year’s cohort for Maters of Human Rights and Democratization at the Sydney Uni.
I believe the course would make enormous contribution to personal development of individuals and to the capacity development of particular institutions in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
I come from a country that is rapidly evolving for ensuring human rights and upholding the principles of democratization. It is both a goal and a challenge. I consider that change for a bette life begins from ourselves, thus, with increasing number of support and global engagement much can be achieved.

Petra Gimbad, Malaysia

Prior to the course, Petra served as a social worker with high-risk and marginalised children and youth. This exposed her to the nature of structural violence and the many rights it violates: particularly where sexual violence, refugee abuse, sex work, drug use and baby trafficking are concerned.

She has taught academic subjects, yoga and basic self-defence in children’s shelters and government high school and volunteered with a theatre project for physically disabled youth. She also provided para-counselling, legal information and advice within feminist and legal organisations.

As a columnist, she enjoys portraying ideas and experiences in everyday language.

Qi Wei Chew, Malaysia

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law in 2009 from Multimedia University, Malaysia. I served the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) for one year as an officer of the Law Reform & International Treaties Working Group.
Prior to this, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Pink Triangle Foundation, a non-governmental organization focusing on communities that are highly prone to HIV/AIDS, as one of the pre-requisites for admission to the Malaysian Bar. My duty is to provide legal advice to these communities and to assist them in the awareness of their rights.
Currently, I am interested in concentrating on prevention of torture and preventive detention laws as these are eminent issues regarding human rights in my country that require urgent address.

Ravi Prakash Vyas, India

The subject of human rights is about the study, promotion, and effective protection of the inherent dignity and fundamental rights of all human beings. I am doing advocacy on various Human Rights Issues at various forums in India. The various perspectives I have been exposed to in my graduation days and the influence of my work profile and internships have not only enhanced my appreciation of these issues but also boosted my enthusiasm and kind of forced me think that there is so much to be done in the field Human Rights both at the National and International level.
Before coming here, I have had the privilege of working as an intern in National Human Rights Commission of India in Policy Research Projects and Programmes Division and submitted reports on issues related to Child Abuse, Bonded Labour and Child Labour. I was engaged in a landmark case related to rights of women (Reproductive Rights) agitated before the Apex Court of India. (SUCHITA SHRIVASTVA v. CHANDIGARH ADMINISTRATION). I am also the founder member of a Registered NGO DHARAS ® - ‘The Youth Heels The Darkness’ which is around 3 years old. The aforesaid, NGO provides free legal aid to the weaker and down trodden sections of the society.

All this has inspired me to study further in the field of Human Rights and continue my goal of becoming a Human Rights Activist. The MHRD coursework provides me opportunity to widen my knowledge and also allows me to learn the International perspective related to the field of Human Rights.

Rayilai M

A young Uyghur woman from northwest China. Passion and interest made her come to Beijing working as an
assistant to a foreign journalist after university, but the career choice that has shaped her the most is working with one of the
biggest HIV/AIDS NGOs in China, AIZHIXING Institute in Beijing, where she held a position from 2008 till 2010. She has also
studied at the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) in The University of York, with a focus on advocating the rights of minorities in China. See more about her in the following links

Realisa Masardi, Indonesia

Realisa D. Masardi is a researcher in Centre for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS) Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta, Indonesia. From 2008 to 2010, she joined a research project of PLAN Indonesia and International Research on Working Children (IREWOC) Netherland as a researcher. Within this project, she produced two reports about child labours in Indonesia: A case study of Child Labour of Asphalt and Oil Collecting in Cilacap, Central Java and A case study of girls working as Dangdut Band Singers in Yogyakarta. She previously has worked as Lecturer Assistant for tandem class of Department of Cultural Anthropology and Department of International Relation Gadjah Mada University (2007). In term of publication, Realisa has published her research paper in international journal (IREWOC online publication) and some books. She published two books of anthropological research about academic cultures in Indonesia and Germany (2008); and Ethnography of Using Tribe (2005) as contributor author. Furthermore, one paper entitled “Child Rights Issue and Media Coverage in Indonesia”: a Recommendation for Child Rights Protection in Southeast Asia (2010) has been presented in First Southeast Asia Human Rights Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

Focusing on child rights issue, Realisa has been working with children for 8 years by joining Yayasan Sosial Soegijapranata, an organization for street children in Yogyakarta as facilitator. She was also occasionally engaged in a foundation for children with cancer in Sardjito Hospital, Yogyakarta. After Merapi Eruption in 2010, she with some university activists initiated ‘Komunitas Anak Ceria’, a volunteer group for children victims of Merapi Eruption. Beside conducting ‘playing and learning activity’ in several evacuation barracks in the erupting phase, Komunitas Anak Ceria continues advocating children’s development by establishing a library and children corner in one affected mountainside village. Realisa now still performs as one of board for the volunteer community.

Joining Master of Human Rights and Democratisation in University of Sydney, Realisa aspires to enhance her capacity on Human Rights issues especially on Child Rights and Minority Rights issues. As an Indonesian, she is also motivated to take part in forming ‘healthier’ stage of democracy in Indonesia. As an ambition, she dreams of establishing a Centre for Child Rights Studies in Yogyakarta for the benefit of academia and policy intervention regarding child rights issue in Indonesia.

Ridwan, Indonesia

Recently Indonesia has seen the alarming growth of radical Islam. From the radical perspective, concepts of human rights and democracy do not fit with the teachings of Islam. Both of these are seen as products of the West.

I have been working at Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC) at the State Islamic University in Jakarta as the Program Coordinator of Islam and Human Rights. Through training and research I try to introduce the idea that democracy and human rights are not only relevant to modern Indonesia, but essential to its future. Embracing these is the best choice for Indonesia as religiously, ethnically, linguistically and culturally plural society.

I believe that my participation in this prestigious program, the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific Regional Program), will broaden my knowledge and ability to strengthen Indonesia as a democratic country which respects human rights. After completing this program I am committed to continuing my work in these fields, utilizing my enhanced knowledge and skills.

Shiifat Sharmin, Bangladesh

I am Shiffat Sharmin, serving as an associate professor in the Department of Law, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Throughout my teaching career, I have been engaged to transmit a sense of mission towards my students and to disseminate my acquired knowledge among them, who would take the responsibilities for promotion of human rights and democracy in future. Apart from that, I think it is my social responsibility to assist the aggrieved people and so, I am working with BLAST (Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust), an NGO, working very actively to serve the vulnerable section of the society.

My current interest includes implementation of international human rights norms in domestic territories; people’s right to access to justice, specially the issue of women’s accessibility to justice has been the subject where I wish to undergo research activities to find out the effective means to help women to realize their rights in practice.

Shiva Dhungana, Nepal

Shiva K Dhungana is a peacebuilding professional from Nepal. Shiva has more than 15 years of professional experience in the field of community development and peacebuilding and conflict transformation. He is born in a forced migrant family in exile, Assam State of India, and was grown up in rural areas in Eastern Nepal. He is extensively engaged in carrying out peacebuilding research during 2004 to 2008 and peacebuilding research and monitoring and evaluation from 2009 till date. He has done research on local peacebuilding efforts, community security, Nepal India relations in the context of Maoist insurgency in Nepal, trafficking and forced migration. Similarly, he has also done research work on implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Nepal as part of the three country research project in Nepal, Kenya and India and also done some work on refugees and IDPS in Nepal. The work on UNSCR 1325 has been published by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2010. He has published articles, journal papers, monographs and books on various issues in the field of peacebuilding and conflict transformation

Siripa Anuntawong, Thailand

I have conducted the undergraduate thesis “Human Trafficking: Sexual Exploitation of Thai Women in Japan” as a part of my Bachelor’s Degree of Social Science from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. The fact of human trafficking truly brings me become passionate to improve human rights among those whose rights are deprived. Besides, my internship with both government institution and NGO are valuable experience which I have been a part of helper, assisting trafficked persons reintegrate to their society. Since then, I devote my career path related to Human Rights in the issue of elimination of human trafficking.

I choose internship as my second semester pathway in order to explore deeper in area of how states and non-states actors cooperate to carry out mechanisms and practices to eradicate the trafficking networks. With course structure that I can fully perceive human right theory and apply into practice, I am surely able to enhance my capability to fight against all kind of human rights violation.

Sok Seila Bun, Cambodia

Born in 1984, while Cambodia was not fully in peace after Khmer Rouge regime, Sokseila BUN wishes to work as a professional human right advocate in his future career. Seila used to work for several human right NGOs such as International Justice Mission, UNICEF collaborated with Ministry of Justice of Cambodia, and East West Management Institute- Program on Right and Justice. With these NGOs, Seila worked in the several field of human right issues such as anti-human trafficking, sexual exploitation on children and women and labour trafficking, juvenile justice (children in conflict with the law), right to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech as well as right to freedom of association. Seila obtained his BBA in management in 2005. In 2008, he received another Bachelor’s degree in Law in Cambodia and his master’s degree in Law from Graduate School of Law of the Transnational Law and Business University, Korea in 2010.

Surya Raju Mattimalla, India

I am born in a country called INDIA where humans are not humans but humans and sub-humans in front of Hindus/Muslims based on the birth of caste. Hindu communities in India treat me Untouchable/sub-human because I am born in this Untouchable community called MADIGA. We are Untouchables for the last 4000 years. We have to live separately from the distance of Hindus. Our localities called MADIGA GHETTOS/HAMLETS. I am a son of a cobbler (Untouchable profession) father and daily wage laborer mother. I have studied my ALL education from the schools meant for HINDUS by sitting corner. I am a first generation student from this Untouchable/Unseeable/Unapproachable/Unshawdoble MADIGA ghetto/hamlet who studied10th, 12th, B.A., M.A., M.Phil and studied Racism course from Brazil country. I am fighting for the basic human rights of my community such as right to drink, right to sit, right to protect human dignity and self-respect, right to wear foot wears, right to speak and right to walk, right to wear white cotton dress in public spaces in front of Hindus and Muslims in the villages. Unfortunately 85% of India lives in villages. I want to stop atrocities perpetrated by Hindus on my community. According to National Crime Report Bureau, every 1 hour 3 Untouchable girls are getting raped, every 3 hours 5 untouchable boys are getting killed, every 6 hours 7 untouchable houses are getting burnt by the Hindus in India.

N.B: I am able to come here with the financial support of Madam Navitha, a Roman Catholic Tamil Christian and Bharat Bhushan Sir, a Protestant Christian. I am a Christian by religion and faith. Because Colonial British Christians have come to my Untouchable ghettos and touched us and permitted us to read and write with love and affection.

Xiaomeng Qi, China

This is Jenny QI from China. Graduated from a law school and also got a double-degree of International Economics and Trades. Just finished her second-year master of Human Rights Law in China University of Political Science and Law which is the most famous law school in China. With the curiosity of outside world, she volunteered in a Cambodia human rights NGO for five weeks and then came to University of Sydney for this human rights and democratization course during her one year break of master study in China. With the impact of her parents both of whom are doctors, she was always searching for a way to save people not only from their physical diseases but also to meet their mental needs. Finally she made up her mind to be a human rights defender.

Yang Chen, China

Before joining the MHRD program, I majored in Korean and studied at Law School of National University of Seoul for a year. My previous working experience was mainly with international cooperatives. However, charity work and human rights issues have always been one of my passions. Through professional human rights studies and internship at NGOs, I hope I would be able to work independently as a project manager in related field in the future, especially in gender rights, child protection and developmental rights.