Alumni Profiles 2010 - 2011

Chaw El Win Zaw, Burma

Before I joined the program, I was working over two years as a humanitarian worker in an international NGO. As an aids worker, got a chance to meet with vulnerable people who suffered not only for their basic needs, but also for basic human rights. I do really want to empower them to voice out for their rights. However, when I reanalyzed myself how much I know about human rights and freedom, then horribly, I found out that I am also living under uncountable restrictions and hundreds of taboos without enjoying the essence of real human rights. I have to build my capacity and knowledge first before empowering the community.

With the help of EU and Dr. Danielle Celermajer, now I got a chance to join the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific Regional Program) and learn underneath concepts and ideologies of UDHR, gathering tools and tactics to dig the root causes of systematic violations, practicing how to analyse a case from multidimensional viewpoints, enlightening myself by exchanging experiences, knowledge and sharing the common interest as to build a larger freedom within our MHRD society.

After the program, I will go back to my motherland and will practice, apply, share and lend a hand to my fellow Burmese to build the better life in the future. My lifelong goal is to be a worthy humanitarian worker, serving for the being of the human and the nation as well.

Frieda Lee, Australia

Frieda grew up in Sydney and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Laws degree from Macquarie University in 2008. She worked as a graduate for an advertising agency in 2009, but has quit advertising to join the Masters of Human Rights and Democratisation Program. Currently she works for 2RPH Radio for the Print-Handicapped and is the artistic director of a new rights-focused theatre group which is in rehearsal for its first performance.

For her dissertation at Mahidol University Frieda is conducting research on sex-tourism and the prostitutes' rights movement in Thailand. Following her masters, Frieda is interested in studying caste structures in Asia.

Hnin Wut Yee, Burma

Hnin Wut Yee is a Master in Human Rights and Democratization Degree candidate from Burma/Myanmar. She is also a graduate of Master in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. She worked as a field officer with the International Committee of the Red Cross and also as a project coordinator and health educator.

Her research interest is in migration, child rights and women rights. She believes that the MHRD program will enable her and all of her classmates to be equipped with necessary tools and know-how to take collective and individual responsibilities for human rights and democratic promotion at the national, regional and global levels.

Joash Tapiheru, Indonesia

Before I enrolled in the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific Regional Program) at the University of Sydney I worked as a researcher with the Center for Politics and Government Studies at the Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. There, I was involved in various research activities on Local Politics, Public Policy, Democracy and Political Development.

I am interested in the MHRD (Asia Pacific Region) program because I want to improve my academic and practical skill as well in the area of Human Rights and Democratisation. In undertaking this program I also considered the relevance of those two themes, since they have been big issues in Indonesia for more than a decade. We are also still struggling to build firmer bases for democracy in Indonesia. Hopefully with those skills, I will be able to contribute more toward the development of Human Rights and Democracy in Indonesia.

Josephine Mann, Papua New Guinea

Before I was awarded the scholarship to come and do the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation, I was working for the World Vision Development Pacific group as an advocacy officer, dealing with human rights issues such as child rights, rights of people living with HIV and AIDS and the gender based violence.

My interest have always been dealing with the rights of women and children and in regards to the issue of HIV and AIDS and therefore I plan to carry out my research and do more work relating to that issue. I intend to get much exposure and understanding of the human rights so I can make a difference back in my country.

Laura McManus, Australia

The values of social justice, equality and compassion have always been close to my heart. Stemming from this is a keen interest in learning from, understanding and exploring different cultures, peoples and countries. I have been fortunate enough to live and travel in Asia and recently returned from an extended stay in Europe. Despite the globalising currents of the 21st Century, it has become apparent to me that tension and reservations between cultures and nationalities persist both across borders and at intimate settings within.

Having graduated from a Bachelor of Global Studies in 2009, majoring in Asian Studies and Japanese, I found myself wanting to delve much deeper into the discourse of human rights, to gage more readily how far we had come, but more so to understand the obstacles in how far we still have to go. In negotiating the intricacies of the rights framework alongside the arguably contested paradigm of democracy, we are continually challenged to think outside the normative lens, striving for new and innovative ways of thinking. Studying alongside academics, activists, lawyers, UN representatives, journalists, and phychologists is a truly inspiring environment to facilitate this discussion. Combining theoretical knowledge with the practical experiences engenders a space for a richer understanding of concepts and thus hopefully the remedies.

I plan on carrying out research in Nepal on the issue of refugees and education, while trying to get my head around Nepali and the hectic city I hear to be Kathmandu.

Mariah Grant, United States

Mariah graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Oregon (UO) in the United States with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies in June 2010. She also obtained departmental honors and completed a thesis on the Jordanian government's implementation of the United Nations (UN) Trafficking in Persons Protocol. In the process of writing her thesis, she carried out field research in Jordan including interviews with representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, the National Center for Human Rights Anti-Trafficking Unit, and the Jordanian Ministry of Labor. Outside of the Middle East she conducted a research field trip on sustainable tourism to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru during the summer of 2009 under the advisement of UO Department of International Studies faculty. Mariah also studied abroad in Tunis, Tunisia where she studied Arabic and Siem Reap, Cambodia where she studied post-conflict nation building.

Beyond her academic and research work, Mariah has taken on various internships within international and local organisations. In the winter of 2010 she interned with the Center for Strategic Studies in Amman, Jordan where she drafted appeals for funding from governments and transnational organisations, conducted desk-based and field research, and compiled data on working conditions and installment of worker complaint hotline in the country's Qualified Industrial Zone factories. In the United States she interned with the City of Eugene's Equity and Human Rights Center and volunteered with the organisation Slavery Still Exists.

Mariah is currently interested in researching state and nongovernmental organisation responses to human trafficking in Thailand and will be working on her Master’s dissertation in this field in the coming months.

Maricel Seno, Philippines

Maricel is a former legal officer for the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines - the country’s national human rights institution. She was principally responsible for legal research on human rights complaints brought before the Commission. While working, she also participated as a full scholar in the Hague Academy of International Law External Program and the East-West Center Summer Institute on IHL and Human Rights.

Maricel has a BA in Philosophy from the Ateneo de Manila University and a JD from the University of the Philippines, where she received the University Chancellor’s Award for Academic Achievement for her leadership and success in international law moot court competitions. While earning her law degree, she worked as a research assistant for the University of the Philippines Law Center Institute of International Legal Studies where she developed an interest for international humanitarian and human rights law.

Maricel’s main fields of interest are: legal enforcement mechanisms for economic, social and cultural rights, treaty implementation, migration, conflict resolution, and international humanitarian law and criminal law. She hopes to venture into human rights policy work after she earns her degree.

Niaz Khandir, Pakistan

Before joining this course, I worked as Program Manager with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) for more than five and half years. I worked on the programs related to strengthening political parties, women’s political participation and elections. Prior to this I also worked as a journalist for print media and radio for more than seven years.

I am passionate about this program because it combines the experiences from the field with the academic discourse around the ongoing struggles for democracy, human rights and rule of law with particular focus on the Asia Pacific region.

I am keen to learn the skills that will broaden and complement my experience in this field. I am interested in researching the role of civil society in transitional democracies, with particular focus on Pakistan.

Nick Tobia, Philippines

I served in the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines as the Executive Assistant to the Chairperson, the Hon. Leila M. De Lima. I earned my Juris Doctor at the University of the Philippines and my Bachelor of Arts at the Ateneo De Manila University.

I was a teacher and school administrator before attending law school, and I will always be an educator at heart. Apart from that, I also have a special affection for the outdoors, having been a recreational mountaineer since 1995.

My current research interest involves National Human Rights Institutions and Regional Human Rights Mechanisms.

Ngyuen Anh Tuan, Vietnam.

Nguyen Anh Tuan I obtained my MA in Anthropology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) in Viet Nam in 2006. After I graduated, I worked for two years as a lecturer of General Anthropology and Religion Anthropology in the Department of Ethnic Minority Culture, Hanoi University of Culture. Since 2007, I have been a researcher of the Institute of Anthropology.

At present, I intend to carry out an anthropological study of the human rights for out-streamed people who can hardly access and obtain sustainable education in the mountainous areas in Northern Viet Nam.

Nguyen Thi Kim Cuc, Vietnam

Ms Nguyen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Academy of Journalism and Communication, Vietnam. Prior to attending this course, she spent nearly five years working for local NGOs as a researcher on different social issues related to gender equality, HIV prevention, and infrastructure development projects. She started studying Human Rights and the Environment at Mekong school (in Thailand) in 2009, took part in several activities in a series of Save the Mekong campaign in Vietnam and Thailand soon after and has been focusing on human rights violations, especially the right to information (FPIC) in hydropower dam projects.

This course gathers a diversity of students and provides opportunities to discuss and learn from experts with different background, experience and perspectives which could develop her knowledge and skills in terms of Human Rights and Democratisation, and strengthen her network gradually. She would love to work with communities in dam projects in Mekong region and share with anyone who is interested in this field.

Nimrah Zubair, Pakistan

Born and bred in a country known for a chequered history of social and political mayhem, the human rights situation has always been glanced with suspicion. The social development sector therefore, always held appeal for me. My association with Leadership for Environment And Development (LEAD), and later with UNDP Pakistan, raised my quest for getting formally trained in Human Rights and Democratization.

I feel privileged to be part of the first ever cohort of students from Asia-Pacific region to study the subject, in the midst of an extremely inspirational faculty. Diversified research engagements , especially in the areas of child rights, trafficking and migration, and to be a part of global movement on human rights will continue to be important motivational factors in my life.

Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Burma

A late Burmese postmodern novelist writes “It is either most difficult or easiest to recount one’s life.” I agree with him since I have a long story. But simple facts will only be exposed here. I am one of the Burmese 1996 students’ generation, who had to wait for 4 years to go to university after high school due to the closure of universities. After graduation, I became a journalist learning about Burmese politics and life firsthand. I have also done some field research back home. My aim is to become a researcher on Burma after this MHRD program.

Odessa Sta.Maria, Philippines

I am part of an alternative law group in the Philippines called Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (Alternative Legal Assistance Center) or SALIGAN. My work focuses on the use of law to protect marginalised sectors such as women, peasants and the urban poor. This involves precedent-setting litigation, advocacy work, paralegal formation in the countryside, and research.

I represent women in court cases on domestic abuse. I also serve as counsel for farmers’ groups for land, health and environmental cases - the most recent one being a case to put a stop to the aerial spraying of pesticides on banana planting communities. This sparked my research interest in demanding greater corporate accountability for human rights abuses in the third world.

Om Prakash Vyas, India

I am an Officer working in the National Human Rights Commission of India. I joined the Commission in 1995 from the police services. I have investigated several cases in the field on varied issues related to violation of human rights. I was decorated with the “Presidents Police Medal” for meritorious services on republic day of India in 2009.

Besides my duties, I am also an international resource person on human rights visiting various institutes to deliver lectures and to conduct training programs. I did my research in Master of Laws (L.L.M.) on ‘Development of Human Rights Jurisprudence in India: Judicial Contribution’ in 2010. I now intend to do research on the issue of human trafficking in the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation course. My other areas of interest are custodial management and women’s issues.

Parvez Pirzado, Pakistan

I belong to a small village near the world heritage site of Mohen jo daro in Pakistan. I have degree in Education and International Development and since 1995 I have been working with various development organisations on Education and Community Development projects in Pakistan.

My interest in human rights developed when I realised that many rights of people are violated and even they are not aware about their rights. Through my Masters I wish to explore the need and importance of human rights education through schools, in order to promote awareness about human rights in a country like Pakistan.

Patricia Gonzales Masias, Australia.

I am of Peruvian background and have always been interested in current affairs and social justice. My experience in the field started at Botany Multicultural Centre, an Australian institution helping migrants and refugees. Then my ten years experience as a Spanish interpreter allowed me to witness first-hand violations of human rights. But it was my involvement as a Legal Officer with the National Human Rights Consultation carried out by the Australian Government that inspired me to pursue a career in this field.

Along with these desires, I am interested in Indigenous issues, especially in relation to children. I would like to utilise the skills gained in the program to help indigenous people around the world.

Pearl Beaumont, Australia

Pearl Beaumont has a Bachelor in Laws and Bachelor in Arts from Monash University. She has worked as a lawyer at the Aboriginal Legal Services in New South Wales and Broome, Western Australia. She is committed to ensuring indigenous Australians have access to justice and legal representation. She also has worked as an Advocacy Advisor at a local non-governmental organization in Cambodia. This involved working with local Khmers and remote ethnic communities to access their rights in the face of human rights abuses. Her research interests are social justice and indigenous rights, international law and transitional justice.

Pimvadee Keaokiriya, Thailand

I have a background study in International Relations (BA) from Mahidol University, along with voluntary experience in several organisations such as Amnesty, Labor Protection Network and Foundation for Child Development tackling in particular children and migrant issues. I am resolved in my commitment to the betterment of children and migrants in Thailand who are caught in this entangled web of complex social and political instability and therefore deprived of their basic rights, be it through active involvement with NGOs or engaging in research.

I am privileged to be a part of the Human Rights and Democratisation program, a program indispensible to the furtherance of my education so that I, along with this faculty teeming with intelligent like-minded colleagues, may objectively and constructively strengthen human rights in the Asia-Pacific.

Vasuki Jeysankar, Sri Lanka

I am from the North of Sri Lanka and settled in the East after my graduation from the University of Jaffna in Bio Science. From my early teens I have started to express the experiences of survival in war through paintings. This has brought me into the women’s rights circles, where I found the passion of my life - working for women. I worked for local and international organisations in the capacity of a women’s rights/child right expert, especially for the ones experiencing violence in the conflict affected areas of Sri Lanka. This experience brought me to Bangladesh to facilitate developing a case management system for the sex workers. I use my creative ability in the trainings and in bringing out the voices of women.

As many of my sisters around the world, I am searching for ways to stop human rights violations and that is one reason for me to join this program.

‘We should create a Weaponless World for Our Children, if not stop creating Children’.

Zubaida Mannan, Bangladesh

I am Zubaida Mannan from Bangladesh, one of the awardees of the prestigious scholarship of the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation at the University of Sydney. I am a government servant working as Senior Assistant Secretary under the Ministry of Establishment. Before coming here I was Deputy Director in the newly established National Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh.

Human rights are totally a new conception for our people and government policy on this issue is very poor. At the same we lack skilled and efficient manpower to create human rights awareness among the people and force government to formulate appropriate and effective policy. This program will definitely enable me to contribute to formulating and implementing the required policy and create awareness of human rights among my people.