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Liberty and Leadership Forum Graduate: Ye Win's Vision for Burma
Twenty Burmese Young Leaders in the Bush Institute’s Liberty and Leadership Forum graduated from the program in May. Over the past year, they’ve applied the skills and concepts from the program to help advance Burma’s historic democratic transition. We’re proud of everything our Young Leaders have accomplished and want to share their stories. We talked with Ye Win about his work in Burma, his time in the Forum, and things to come.
1. Describe what you are doing in Burma. What inspired you to do this kind of work and why is it important?
According to the 2014 Population and Household census, Myanmar has more than 2.3 million people with disabilities (PWDs). Only one percent of PWDs have access to higher education. Half of the PWDs population has no access to formal education. Illiteracy is significantly high among PWDs. Without proper education and employment opportunities, PWDs in Myanmar lose fundamental rights.
I am involved in organizations like the National Network for Education Reform (NNER) that are lobbying for national education laws that help PWDs.
Before the 2015 elections in Myanmar, I worked with other organizations to ensure PWDs voter rights were respected.
2. How did the Liberty and Leadership Forum inspire you?
The United States always supported Myanmar’s democratic forces and democratization. For this reason, I always wanted to visit the United States and learn more about democracy and federalism. Thanks to this program, I’ve had interaction with people in the United States and learned about different international experiences with democracy. This inspires me.
3. As you think about the future, what is your vision for Burma and how will you help make it a reality?
I will continue to participate in the democratization process by sharing my knowledge and experience with society. I will advocate for the rights of PWDs as I’d like to initiate an “Inclusive Technology for PWDs” program that exposes Myanmar’s disabled people to the Internet and mobile phones. It would educate PWDs on how to access and utilize these new technologies.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
ICYMI: Bush Institute Young Leader Discusses the Rohingya Crisis on Nightline
Bush Institute Liberty and Leadership Forum young leader Nickey Diamond (Ye Myint Win), of Yangon, Burma, recently spoke to ABC’s Bob Woodruff about the Burmese government’s brutal persecution of the Rohingya people. During the interview, Diamond explained how one-sided messages from the Burmese government and Buddhist leaders manipulate the general public into hating the Rohingya and believing they are terrorists. The segment also enabled Diamond to share his human rights work, which documents Burmese military officers’ crimes against humanity. Diamond has been threatened and often worries for his family’s safety. Still, he told Woodruff, “They’ll never stop what I’m doing.” Watch the full story on ABC Nightline.
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