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Bush Institute's Young Leaders are Pioneers for Burmese Democracy (Part 2)
As part of the Bush Institute’s Liberty and Leadership Forum, 18 men and women from Burma experienced the Fourth of July in Washington, DC. After welcoming the class of 2015-2016 to Dallas, our Young Leaders traveled to the nation’s capital where they witnessed American democracy in action, visiting the White House, Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, and the National Archives. After celebrating their first Independence Day in the United States, we asked the Young Leaders what freedom meant to them. Here are some of their answers:
Through the Liberty and Leadership Forum, the Bush Institute equips young men and women with the knowledge and skills they need to lead during a democratic transition. While on a path toward democracy, Burma’s destination is not yet guaranteed. One key to success is ensuring that the country’s young democracy advocates are prepared to be tomorrow’s political and civil society leaders.
The Young Leaders kicked off their participation in the Liberty and Leadership Forum with a three-week seminar in the United States, including coursework at the Bush Institute and a four-day experience tour of Washington, D.C. Their yearlong journey continues through a combination of an intensive curriculum on leadership and democracy, hands-on skill development, and practical application.
Yesterday, we introduced several Young Leaders from the class of 2015-2016. Meet the rest of them:
Salai David is founder of the Ethnic Affairs Institute, which provides voter education and raises awareness about the 2015 general elections in ethnic minority areas of Burma. As a member of the ethnic minority Chin tribe, Salai David was first motivated to start the Ethnic Youth Development Center to promote minority rights in Burma. The organization, which provides capacity training, produces documentaries, and advocates for change in local and central government minority policies, was folded into the Ethnic Affairs Institute in 2015.
Salai David is the current Burmese representative to the Asian-Europe People Forum (ASEAN). He also works with various human rights groups such as the Mekong Peace Journey, the Myanmar Youth Forum, and the Chin Youth Network, and serves as a researcher with the Myanmar Institute for Strategic and International Studies. In 2012, he cofounded the First Myanmar Youth Forum and the Chin Youth Network.
Sawor Mon is a Human Rights Activist in Mon State (Southern Part of Burma), working as the Program Coordinator at The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), and as a consultant for Land Rights Project in Mon Agriculture Center and Development Organization. He is also member of Mon State Ceasefire Monitoring Committee.
As a student at Malwamyine University, Sawor Mon was a member of the Mon Literature and Culture Sub-Committee, organizing Mon university students to teach Mon Language to children in Mon Rural Village.
In 2008, when Cyclone Nargis devastated the Irrawaddy Delta, Sawor Mon volunteered with the Mon Businessmen Donor Aid Support Committee to provide aid to victims.
Sawor Mon as completed a Foreign Affairs Training program offered by Education Initiative in Chaing Mai.
Previously, Sawor Mon taught computer lessons to the Post Ten Students Program, through the Mon National Education Committee.
Soe Soe New
Soe Soe Nwe is general secretary of the Women’s League of Burma and a member of the Tavoyan Women’s Union, through which she advances community mobilization and development. Previously, Soe Soe Nwe worked as an education coordinator for the Migrant Justice Program. After completing a journalism program in 2014, she became a freelance journalist and now writes for Tavoyan Voice to advocate for women’s advancement.
Tayzar San is executive director of the Yone Kyi Yar Knowledge Propagation Society (KPS), an organization founded by young doctors, engineers, and students to promote a knowledge-based society in Burma. KPS engages in political education training, civic affairs workshops, and intellectual seminars. In 2015, he participated in the international conference entitled "Strengthening Democracy in Asia: Inclusion, Participation, and Rights" in New Delhi, India, which was organized by the World Movement for Democracy, the Asia Democracy Network, and the Institute of Social Sciences in India.
In 2011, Tayzar San founded the Beautiful Mind Foundation in Mandalay to provide free health care services to the poor. He chaired the organization in 2011 and 2012, and now serves as an executive committee member and volunteer doctor. In 2012, he re-founded and served as chairman of the Mandalay District All Burma Federation of Students Union . Tayzar San is also founder and secretary of the Art and Literature Association at the University of Medicine, Mandalay, which publishes a quarterly magazine. He graduated with an MBBS degree from the University of Medicine-Mandalay at 2013.
Thin Yu Mon
Thin Yu Mon is a human rights activist and program officer with the Chin Human Rights Organization in Yangon, Burma. She is responsible for programs that promote religious freedom and indigenous rights. She is also a cofounder and management committee member of the Myanmar Indigenous Peoples Network, which is a coalition of 29 indigenous organizations.
As a university student, Thin Yu Mon actively participated in the Chin Literature and Culture Committee, organizing university student activities and events. While completing her master's degree at Yangon University, she served as a translator for the Kumudra Journal. She went on to join the Project Achievement Study Team at the Euro-Burma Office, facilitating ethnic minority acceptance programs throughout Burma. She also joined the Chin Youth Network at this time.
Thin Yu Mon is an alumnus of the 2014 International Human Rights Training Program sponsored by EQUITAS (Montreal, Canada) and of UNSCR 1325: Women Peace and Security hosted by Indevelop, the Swedish International Development Agency. Her studies also include a post-graduate diploma course in international relations from Yangon University.
Wah Eh Htoo
Wah Eh Htoo is an advocacy coordinator in Burma with World Vision International, a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organization. His work focuses primarily on children's rights, child soldiers, and human trafficking issues, as well as capacity building for World Vision staff members and over 550 community based organizations. Previously he traveled throughout Burma as a communications expert, reporting on the acute poverty and needs faced by Burmese children. He was among the first responders for natural disasters as a member of World Vision’s emergency rapid response team, including following cyclone Nargis which killed more than 150,000 people in 2008. His stories and photos from Nargis-hit areas were published by leading international media, including CNN and BBC.
Wah Eh Htoo He began his professional life as a journalist with the Myanmar Times in 2003, during the height of Burma's military rule and media censorship. His stories mainly covered the lack of environmental conservation in Burma and the devastating impact on the country’s rich flora and fauna. He is an active member of the Karen Baptist Convention as well as a fellow with the DeBoer Fellowship.
Wint Wady is a radio reporter and producer for BBC Media Action. Her radio show "Lin Let Kyal" encourages Burmese youth to speak out against injustices and become more involved in their communities. She also presents programs on migration, labor rights, gender equality, health care, education, religious conflicts, and the upcoming general elections in 2015.
Wint Wady began her journalism career in print media after obtaining a master’s degree in computer technology from the University of Computer Studies, Yangon. As a writer for the Kumudra Newspaper in 2011, she and her colleagues received the National News Award for the best new story. The prize-winning story covered the U.S. sanctions on Myanmar.
In 2013, Wint Wady received a scholarship to attend a multi-media workshop in Poland, where she gained valuable journalism knowledge and experience. She hopes to increase voter awareness and participation in the upcoming election.
Ye Win is a cofounder of the I-School Myanmar, which advocates for transparency and accountability during Burma's democratic transition. He conducts trainings on civic education, information and communication technology, and citizen journalism for social and political activists. In 2013, he was invited by the U.S. and Malaysian governments to attend the Global Start-Up Youth Camp and Global Entrepreneurship Summit as Burma's representative.
As an advocate for national education reform in Burma, Ye win serves on the National Network for Education Reform (NNER). In 2012, he worked with other educators to draft a new policy for education reform and to advocate for the New National Education Act. As a person with disabilities, Ye Win also advocates for policies to advance the rights of disabled people, who suffer widespread discrimination and marginalization from mainstream society.
Ye Win graduated from university in 2004 and founded a private engineering school. In 2007, he participated in the Saffron Revolution and, following his arrest, was held as a political prisoner for two years. After his released in 2010, Ye Win cofounded the Myanmar Youth Network, which sponsors youth activities and development.
Ying Tzarm is a human rights activist, aspiring graphic designer and photographer. Due to civil war in her home region, Tzarm moved to Thailand with her family at the age of 14.
In 2001, Tzarm joined the Shan Women’s Action Network, participating in advocacy and human rights campaigns, specifically to free political prisoners from Shan State and to stop dam construction at the Salween River.
From 2007 to 2011, Tzarm worked as Assistant Coordinator and then Coordinator for the Women’s League of Burma’s Information, Documentation and Research. In 2008, she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland along with ten other ethnic women from Burma to present alternative reports on discrimination against women to the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Tzarm previously served as an interpreter for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Mae Hong Son, Thailand, from 2011 to 2013.
Currently, Tzarm works as a Partnership Support Officer at The Border Consortium, providing assistance to displaced people and refuges along the Thai-Burma border.
Through self-study and support from family and friends, Tzarm has become proficient in information technology and graphic design. She uses these skills to support women’s organizations in publication design, website updating and documentation. Tzarm is also fluent in Shan, Burmese, Thai and English and has over ten years of translation and interpretation experience. Tzarm hopes to attend university to study computer science in order to use multi-media to promote democracy, human rights and equality for all.
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The Bush Institute’s 23 Liberty and Leadership scholars from Burma are spending three weeks in the United States for Module 2 programming.
Witnessing Burma's Transition Through Its People
Learn how the Liberty and Leadership Scholars, together with others in Burma, are forging a path to democracy and peace, bringing diverse communities together through mutual understanding and respect.
Bush Institute Leaders Are Contributing to Burma's Democratic Transition
Since the launch of the Liberty and Leadership Program, the Bush Institute has engaged 79 men and women from Burma, including former political prisoners, civil society activists, members of parliament, journalists, educators, health practitioners, and other emerging leaders.